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Guide to the Wolfgang Iser Papers MS.C.006
MS.C.006  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Accruals
  • Processing History
  • Biography
  • Biographical Chronology
  • Course Chronology
  • Collection Scope and Content Summary
  • Collection Arrangement
  • Related Collections

  • Title: Wolfgang Iser papers
    Identifier/Call Number: MS.C.006
    Contributing Institution: Special Collections and Archives, University of California, Irvine Libraries
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 12.2 Linear feet (32 boxes) and 0.2 unprocessed linear feet
    Date: 1952-2000
    Abstract: This collection contains professional and private correspondence, papers presented at conferences, course reading and lecture notes, videorecordings, and unpublished and published writings documenting the work of literary theorist Wolfgang Iser as a teacher and scholar. The papers reflect Iser's main interests as a professor of English literature. The bulk of the material dates from after his appointment in 1967 as a professor at the University of Konstanz, in Germany. Some material documents his teaching at the University of California, Irvine from 1978 to 1998.
    Creator: Iser, Wolfgang

    Access

    The collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    Property rights reside with the University of California. Copyrights are retained by the creators of the records and their heirs. For permission to reproduce or to publish, please contact the Head of Special Collections and Archives.

    Preferred Citation

    Wolfgang Iser papers. MS-C006. Special Collections and Archives, The UC Irvine Libraries, Irvine, California. Date accessed.
    For the benefit of current and future researchers, please cite any additional information about sources consulted in this collection, including permanent URLs, item or folder descriptions, and box/folder locations.

    Acquisition Information

    Gift of Wolfgang Iser, 1992, 1998-1999.

    Accruals

    Additional accruals are expected.

    Processing History

    Processed by Marcus Keller, 1999 and 2001. Finding aid updated in 2007 by Michelle Light.

    Biography

    Wolfgang Iser was born on July 22, 1926, in Marienberg (Saxony), Germany, the son of Paul and Else (Steinbach) Iser. From 1933 to 1944 he attended elementary and high school. He was drafted into the German army in 1944, and released from a prisoner of war camp in 1945. At the age of 19, he enrolled as a student of English, Philosophy, and German at the University of Leipzig, after the "Vorsemester" required for enrollment of students who graduated from high school in the later war years. At the end of his first year he transferred to the University of Tübingen and later to the University of Heidelberg, where he earned his Ph.D. in Anglistik (English philology and literature) in 1950 and joined the first generation of West German postwar graduates. From that point onward Iser's academic career took a straight and very successful course, which in many ways was typical for a young scholar of his generation. After his graduation and a short teaching appointment in Heidelberg, he became an assistant lecturer in 1952 in Glasgow, Scotland, teaching German for the next three years. Just before his departure he married Lore Reichert, who continued to assist Iser in his academic endeavors.
    Upon his return to Germany in 1955, Iser was appointed to a position equivalent to an assistant professorship in the English Department of the University of Heidelberg, where he earned his "Habilitation" in 1957 with a work on the aesthetics of Walter Pater. This postdoctoral degree is the final step in the German academic system in becoming a full professor. After three more years of teaching at the University of Heidelberg, Iser was appointed full professor of English at the University of Würzburg in 1960.
    After this appointment and another at the University of Köln during the mid-1960s, Iser finally took a position in the Department of Literature at the newly founded University of Konstanz in 1967. Konstanz belonged to the numerous new "reform" campuses created in West Germany in the late 1960s and early 1970s in order to provide higher education for the burgeoning postwar generation of students and to fill West Germany's need for professionals in all fields. This rapid growth in the West German educational system was accompanied by deep reforms of traditional structures and teaching methods, and Wolfgang Iser was a significant participant in this reform project. He was a member of the founding council of the University of Bielefeld, another reform campus known at the time for its innovative structures. He became chairman of the Planning Committee for the University of Konstanz in 1971, a crucial position in the shaping of this new school, maintaining this post until his retirement as professor emeritus in 1991. Throughout his career Iser has been in great demand as an academic consultant in Germany, most recently as the chairman of the committee for establishing the "Grossbritannien-Zentrum" (i.e., British Studies Center) at the Humboldt-University in Berlin.
    In the 1970s Iser established himself as one of the leading figures in literary theory with such works as Der implizite Leser (1972, English ed. The Implied Reader) and Der Akt des Lesens (1976, English ed. The Act of Reading). As a result, he was associated with "reception theory," which was very influential in literary studies during the 1970s; it was especially well-received in the United States, along with "reader-response" criticism. With Hans-Robert Jauss, Iser is considered to be the founding father of the Konstanz School of Reception Aesthetics. It was also during these years that Iser intensified his contacts with the North American academic community, which became over the years his second academic home. In the 1970s Iser held two fellowships and three visiting appointments at U.S. and Canadian institutions, including a visiting appointment in the German Department at the University of California, Irvine in 1976. In 1978 Iser became a faculty member of the Department of English and Comparative Literature at UCI, teaching classes regularly in English literature and literary theory.
    Beginning in the mid-1980s Iser's research was oriented more and more toward the issues of literary anthropology. A large research project investigating these issues was established in the Department of Literature at the University of Konstanz, which is still in place. Books such as Prospecting: From Reader Response to Literary Anthropology (1989) and Das Fiktive und das Imaginäre (1991, English ed. The Fictive and the Imaginary) are representative of this phase in Iser's theoretical research.
    Wolfgang Iser pursued an international and highly successful career, with numerous appointments and lectureships in Europe, North America, and Asia. He served on boards of prestigious academic and cultural institutions and has instigated a number of research and editiorial projects such as the series Poetik und Hermeneutik. His international reputation was indicated by his numerous memberships and honorary memberships in academic associations such as the Modern Language Association, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Heidelberg Academy of Arts and Sciences, revealed his international reputation.
    Iser died in Konstanz, Germany on January 24, 2007.

    Biographical Chronology

    1926 Born on July 22 in Marienberg (Saxony), Germany.
    1946 Student at the University of Leipzig.
    1946-1947 Student at the University of Tübingen.
    1947-1950 Student at the University of Heidelberg.
    1950 Die Weltanschauung Henry Fieldings
    1951-1952 Instructor, English Department, University of Heidelberg.
    1952 Die Weltanschauung Henry Fieldings
    1952-1955 Assistant Lecturer, German Department, University of Glasgow.
    1955-1957 Wissenschaftlicher Assistent (equivalent to an assistant professorship), English Department, University of Heidelberg.
    1957 Habilitation (postdoctoral degree), University of Heidelberg.
    1957-1960 Privatdozent (equivalent to a non-tenured associate professorship), English Department, University of Heidelberg.
    1960 Walter Pater: Die Autonomie des Ästhetischen
    1960 Britannica: Festschrift für Hermann M. Flasdieck
    1960-1963 Professor of English, English Department, University of Würzburg.
    1963-1967 Professor of English, English Department, University of Köln.
    1963-1982 Founding member and member of the Board of the Research Unit "Poetik und Hermeneutik."
    1963-1994 Theorie und Geschichte der Literatur und der Schönen Künste: Texte und Abhandlungen
    1966 Immanente Ästhetik - Ästhetische Reflexionen: Lyrik als Paradigma der Moderne
    1967-1972 Member of the Council for establishing the University of Bielefeld.
    1967-1991 Professor of English and Comparative Literature, Department of Literature, University of Konstanz.
    1968 Visiting appointment, English Department, Colgate University, Hamilton, New York.
    1970-1971 Fellow at the Center of the Humanities, Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut.
    1970 Die Appellstruktur der Texte: Unbestimmtheit als Wirkungsbedingung literarischer Prosa
    1970 Spensers Arkadien: Fiktion und Geschichte in der englischen Renaissance
    1970 Dargestellte Geschichte in der europäischen Literatur des 19. Jahrhunderts
    1971-1991 Chairman of the Planning Committee of the University of Konstanz.
    1972 Der implizite Leser: Kommunikationsformen des Romans von Bunyan bis Beckett
    1972 Henry Fielding und der englische Roman des 18. Jahrhunderts
    1973-1974 Fellow at the Center of Advanced Studies in the Humanities and Social Sciences, Wassenaar, Holland.
    1974 Visiting appointment, Graduate Program of Comparative Literature, University of Toronto, Ontario.
    1975 Fellow of the Heidelberg Academy of Arts and Sciences.
    1976 Visiting appointment, German Department, University of California, Irvine.
    1976 Poggioli Lecture, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
    1976 Der Akt des Lesens: Theorie ästhetischer Wirkung
    1978 Professor of English, Department of English and Comparative Literature, University of California, Irvine.
    1978 Teaching Fellow, School of Criticism and Theory, University of California, Irvine.
    1978 Senior Old Dominion Fellow, Council of the Humanities, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey.
    1979 Honorary Member of the British Comparative Literature Association, Cambridge, England.
    1979 Die Artistik des Mißlingens: Ersticktes Lachen im Theater Becketts
    1982 Theorien der Kunst
    1983-1984 Visiting appointment, English Department, University of Zürich.
    1984-1998 Member of the Selection Committee of the Alexander von Humboldt-Foundation, Bonn-Bad Godesberg.
    1985 Honorary Member of the Modern Language Association of America, New York.
    1985 Hanes-Willis-Lectures, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
    1985-1986 Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study, Hebrew University, Jerusalem.
    1987 Honorary Foreign Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Boston, Massachusetts.
    1987 Laurence Sternes "Tristram Shandy": Inszenierte Subjektivität
    1988-1991 Co-Director of the research project "Institutions of Interpretation," sponsored by the German-Israeli Foundation for Scientific Research & Development, Jerusalem.
    1988 Shakespeares Historien: Genesis und Geltung
    1989 Walker-Ames Lectureship, University of Washington, Seattle.
    1989 Keynote speaker at Hanyang University, Seoul, Korea, on the occasion of its 50th anniversary celebration.
    1989 Languages of the Unsayable: The Play of Negativity in Literature and Literary Theory
    1989 Prospecting: From Reader Response to Literary Anthropology
    1989 Theodor A. Meyer: Das Stilgesetz der Poesie
    1990-1996 Member of the Board of the Franz-Rosenzweig-Center for German-Jewish Literature and Cultural History, Hebrew University, Jerusalem.
    1990 Fingieren als anthropologische Dimension der Literatur
    1991 Member of the Academia Europaea, London.
    1991 Professor emeritus as of October 1, 1991, at the University of Konstanz.
    1991 Scholar at the Rockefeller Study and Conference Center, Bellagio, Italy.
    1991 Das Fiktive und das Imaginäre: Perspektiven literarischer Anthropologie
    1992 Theorie der Literatur: Eine Zeitperspektive
    1993 Spielstrukturen in Shakespeares Komödien: "Sommernachtstraum"-"Was ihr wollt"
    1993-1994 Chairman of the committee for establishing the "Großbritannien-Zentrum" at the Humboldt-University, Berlin.
    1994 Wellek Library Lecturer at the University of California, Irvine.
    1994-1999 Co-Director of the International Conference of Humanistic Discourse research project, sponsored by the Alexander von Humboldt-Foundation, Bonn, and University of California, Irvine.
    1995 Visiting appointment, University of Basel.
    1995 Das Großbritannien-Zentrum in kulturwissenschaftlicher Sicht
    1996 The Translatability of Cultures: Figurations of the Space Between
    1998 Stepping Forward: Essays, Lectures and Interviews
    2000 The Range of Interpretation
    2000 Presidential Lecture, Stanford University, California.
    2000 Ph.D., Honoris Causa, New Bulgarian University, Sofia, Bulgaria.
    2000 Werner Heisenberg Medal, Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung, Bonn.
    2000-2001 Senior Distinguished Andrew W. Mellon Fellow, National Humanities Center, North Carolina.
    2001 Corresponding Fellow, British Academy, London.
    2001 Senior Fellow for Life, School of Advanced Study, University of London, 2001.
    2005 Professor emeritus at University of California, Irvine.
    2006 How to Do Theory
    2007 Died in Konstanz, Germany.

    Course Chronology

    The following chronology of courses taught by Wolfgang Iser at the University of Konstanz and at the University of California, Irvine was assembled with the assistance of Dr. Rolf Eichler and Christa Schellhammer (Konstanz) and Arielle Read (Irvine). Although every effort has been made to list every course taught by Iser at these institutions, this chronology is not definitive. Course titles frequently do not exactly match the titles supplied by Iser for the course materials in Series 2 of this finding aid. At Konstanz, courses are offered during Winter (Oct.-March) and Summer (April-Sept.) semesters. Also at Konstanz, Iser frequently taught Doktorandenkolloquium (doctoral colloquia), for which individual titles were not available for this chronology. At Irvine courses are offered during Fall (Oct.-Dec.), Winter (Jan.-March), and Spring (April-June) quarters.
    Courses taught at UCI are explicitly noted; all other courses were taught at Konstanz.
    Winter 1968 Der englische Roman der Aufklärung
      Joyce und Beckett
      Moderne ästhetische Theorien. Intention und Leistung
    Summer 1969 Shakespeares Tragödien
      Shepheardes Calender
      Moderne ästhetische Theorien. Intention und Leistung II
    Winter 1969 Der moderne englische Roman. Einübung in praktische Literaturkritik
      Romantische Odendichtung
      Kolloquium für Aufbaustudenten über Kunsttheorien des Pragmatismus und der Semiotik
    Summer 1970 Modernes englisches Drama
      Waste Land</title> und Ezra Pounds <title ns2:type="simple">Cantos
      Kolloquium für Aufbaustudenten über Kritik ästhetischer Theorieentwürfe
    Summer 1971 Theorie literarischer Kommunikation
      Tristram Shandy
      Kritik ästhetischer Theorieentwürfe (Rader, Krieger/Vivas, Margolis)
    Winter 1971 Shakespeares Historien
      Fiktion in der Tradition des Empirismus und in der Literatur
    Summer 1972 Der viktorianische Roman
      Arkadien in der Literatur der Renaissance
    Winter 1972 Englische und amerikanische Lyrik des 20. Jahrhunderts
      Der Fiktionsbegriff in der Tradition des Empirismus
    Summer 1973 Bürgerliches Trauerspiel und sentimentale Komödie
      Fiktion und Fiktionstheorie von der Aufklärung bis zur Gegenwart
    Summer 1974 Der englische Roman des 18. Jahrhunderts
      Phänomenologie des Lesens
    Winter 1974 Shakespeares Historien
      Kunsttheorien der Gegenwart
    Summer 1975 Moderne englische Lyrik
      Becketts Dramen
    Winter 1975 Shakespeares Tragödien
      Romantische Odendichtung
      Fiktion und Fiktionstheorie von der Aufklärung bis zur Gegenwart
    Winter 1976 Dickens und Thackeray
      Modernes englisches Drama
      Kunsttheorien der Gegenwart
    Summer 1977 Shakespeares Historien
      Schäferdichtung der Renaissance
    Winter 1977 Dickens und Thackeray
      Entblößte Fiktion
      Vorlesungskurs: Moderne englische Lyrik
    Winter 1978 Romantische Odendichtung
      Shakespeares Tragödien
      Kunsttheorien der Moderne
    Summer 1979 The Ambassadors</title> und Joseph Conrad: <title ns2:type="simple">Lord Jim
      Das englische Drama des 20. Jahrhunderts
    Winter 1979 Bürgerliches Trauerspiel
      Shakespeares Historien
    Winter 1980 Dickens und Thackeray
      Der englische Roman der Aufklärung
    Winter 1981 The Ambassadors</title> und Joseph Conrad: <title ns2:type="simple">Lord Jim
      Englische Lyrik der Moderne
      Kunsttheorie der Gegenwart
    Summer 1982 Bürgerliches Trauerspiel
      Shakespeares Historien
      Europäische Bukolik: Zur historischen Genese der literarischen Fiktion
    Winter 1982 Romantische Odendichtung
      Shakespeares Tragödien
      Idole, Fiktionen und Fiktionsbegriffe in der Tradition des Empirismus
    Winter 1983 Modernes englisches Drama: Vom Naturalismus bis zum absurden Theater
    Summer 1984 Der englische Roman der Aufklärung
    Winter 1984 Shakespeares Historien
      Idole, Fiktionen und Fiktionsbegriffe in der Tradition des Empirismus
    Winter 1985 English 210: Representation in Narrative (UCI)
    Summer 1985 Englische Lyrik der Moderne
      Tristram Shandy</title> und <title ns2:type="simple">Jacques le fataliste
    Winter 1985 Shakespeares Tragödien
      Literatur und Spielbegriff
    Winter 1986 Humanities 270: Theories of Art (UCI)
    Winter 1986 Der englische Roman der Aufklärung
      Phantasie und Phantasietheorien
    Winter 1987 English 225: Fictionality in Philosophy and Literature (UCI)
    Summer 1987 Dickens und Thackeray
      Shakespeares Historien
    Winter 1988 Das Fiktive und das Imaginäre: Grundzüge einer Literaturanthropologie. Teil I: Fiktionalität
      Spielstrukturen in Shakespeares Komödien
    Winter 1989 Humanities 270: The Play of the Text (UCI)
    Summer 1989 Das Fiktive und das Imaginäre: Grundzüge einer Literaturanthropologie. Teil II: das Imaginäre
      Kanonbildung von der Aufklärung zur Moderne: Dr. Johnson, Matthew Arnold, T.S. Eliot
    Winter 1989 Englische Lyrik der Moderne
    Winter 1990 Humanities 270: Theories of Art and their Consequences for Interpretations: Phenomenology, Gestalt, Hermeneutics, and Semiotics (UCI)
    Winter 1990 Shakespeares Tragödien
      Dramatische Literatur der englischen Renaissance: Shakespeares Zeitgenossen
    Summer 1991 Institutionen der Interpretation
      Thomas Carlyle: Die übersetzbarkeit von Kulturen
    Winter 1992 Humanities 270: The Fictive and the Imaginary (UCI)
    Spring 1992 English 210: Institutions of Interpretation (UCI)
    Winter 1993 Criticism 240: Translatability of Discourses (UCI)
    Winter 1994 Humanities 270: Anatomy of Interpretation (UCI)
    Spring 1994 Criticism 240: Modern Theories of Art (UCI)
    Winter 1995 Humanities 270: Conceptions of Culture (UCI)
    Winter 1996 Humanities 270: Interpretive Procedures: Readings of Sealed and Open Canons; Hermeneutics, Cybernetics, and the Differential (UCI)
    Winter 1997 Humanities 270: Modern Theories of Art (UCI)
    Winter 1998 Humanities 270: Unfolding Interpretation: Iterations of Translatability (UCI)
    Winter 1999 Humanities 270: Conceptions of Culture in Ethnographical and Anthropological Perspective (UCI)
    Spring 1999 Humanities 270: Beckett and Theory (UCI)
    Winter 2002 Humanities 270: Culture as an Emergent Phenomenon (UCI)

    Collection Scope and Content Summary

    This collection contains professional and private correspondence, papers presented at conferences, course reading and lecture notes, videorecordings, and unpublished and published writings documenting the work of literary theorist Wolfgang Iser as a teacher and scholar. The papers reflect Iser's main interests as a professor of English literature. The bulk of the material dates from after his appointment in 1967 as a professor at the University of Konstanz, in Germany. Some material documents his teaching at the University of California, Irvine from 1978 to 1998.
    The papers are composed chiefly of handwritten or typed notes, approximately two thirds in German and one third in English. Especially noteworthy in the collection are Iser's notes on special topics such as reader-response criticism, fictionality, the imaginary, staging, and aesthetics. Also represented in the collection are notes on authors such as Thomas Carlyle, Henry Fielding, William Shakespeare, Philip Sidney, and Edmund Spenser, and on English literary periods and genres such as the English novel of the Enlightenment and English pastoral poetry.

    Collection Arrangement

    This collection is arranged in three series.
    • Series 1. Professional activities and biographical material, 1952-1994. 1.6 linear feet
    • Series 2. Teaching material, 1957-1998. 7.6 linear feet
    • Series 3. Writings, 1964-2000. 3.0 linear feet

    Related Collections

    Papers relating to Wolfgang Iser's tenure as a professor at the University of Konstanz have been deposited in the archive there by Professor Iser.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Carlyle, Thomas, 1795-1881 -- Criticism and interpretation
    Fielding, Henry, 1707-1754 -- Criticism and interpretation
    Iser, Wolfgang -- Archives
    Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616
    Sidney, Philip, 1554-1586
    Spenser, Edmund, 1552?-1599
    University of California, Irvine. -- Faculty -- Archives
    Critical theory -- Archives.
    Criticism -- History -- Sources
    Fictions, Theory of
    Imagination in literature
    Literary critics.
    Literature -- Aesthetics
    Literature -- History and criticism
    Pastoral poetry, English -- History and criticism
    Theorists.
    Video recordings