IASH Fellows’ Speaker Series: 'Kafka and His Readers'

Neil Christian Pages, associate professor, departments of German and Russian Studies and of Comparative Literature, will present “Kafka and His Readers” from noon-1 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 31, in the Harpur Dean’s Conference Room, LN-2403. Franz Kafka (1883-1924) is arguably the most famous writer of German Modernism. His influence has been so great as to inspire an idiom in English (and other languages), the “Kafkaesque.” Kafka’s life and work continue to inspire contemporary cultural productions ranging from the graphic/comic work of R.Crumb to the installation art of Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller, the musical compositions of Carsten Nicolai and Poul Ruders, the films of Woody Allen, Steven Soderbergh and Michael Haneke, and the literary texts of authors like Jonathan Franzen, Haruki Murakami and J.M. Coetzee. The translation of Kafka’s texts provokes heated debates as does the management of his literary and material legacy. From the tourists in Prague’s Old Town to the Israeli government to scholarly disciplines and other disciples, diverse constituencies claim and appropriate “Kafka.” This presentation will address in broad terms the function of “Kafka” as an object of scholarly and pedagogical investment and consider the way the Kafkan text works in the classroom and beyond.