McCarthy teaches courses not only in the Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages on the long eighteenth century (Aufklärung, Empfindsamkeit, Sturm und Drang, Weimarer Klassik; Lyrik, Roman)but also in English, European Studies and Religious Studies. His courses range from the idea of Europe in historical perspective, to European and German Enlightenment, European literature of self-discovery, Nietzsche and crisis consciousness, science and literature, systems theory (chaos and complexity theory), and to the nature and representation of evil in film and text. His teaching and research interests also extend to Wissenschaftsgeschichte (in particular the history of German Studies in the USA), the theory and practice of censorship, and empirical readership studies. Standing courses include.
courses taught at vanderbilt university
represent a wide range of topics on cultural history and discourse theory in German (for graduate students and advanced undergraduate students) and in English (for graduate students in Comparative Literature, History, Religious Studies) as well as for freshman and continuing adult education students on such topics as the European Enlightenment, Sturm und Drang, Weimar Classicism, The Author as Moral Therapist, Complexity and Creativity, Beyond Good and Evil, 18th-century narrative, Faust, Schiller as Historiographer and Theorist, Identity Creation, Interconnections Between Science and Literature, the Essay, Creativity and Metaphor, Sex and Sensibility, European Realism, and The Idea of Europe from Antiquity to Restoration.
GER 389 Goethe’s Faust / Goethe’s Modernisms
This course is dedicated to an in-depth study of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's masterpiece, Faust I & II, with reference to the Urfaust and other adaptations of the Faust theme prior and subsequent to Goethe (such as the chapbook and the film version of Thomas Mann's Dr. Faustus. I. Szabo's Mephisto, or Gustaf Gründgens Faust). The work will be examined as a reflection of the philosophical and social themes of the era (which reach back to Humanism and the Reformation) as well as of the broad spectrum of aesthetic and scientific innovation 1770-1830. In other words, the opus will be treated as a critical reflection upon the ideals of the Enlightenment, Storm and Stress, Romanticism, the French Revolution, reevaluation of Greek antiquity, and scientific developments/concepts (e.g., preformation, Neptunism, metamorphosis, color theory). The significance of the work for our own era will be framed in philosophical, aesthetic, and scientific terms. Nietzsche's concept of the free spirit will be accorded special attention. Special attention will, therefore, be accorded Goethe’s modernisms (Tantillo 2010). These represent, in fact, some of the themes for individual and group study projects. In lieu of writing a term paper, first-year graduate students may substitute a final take-home essay examination.
EUS 151Confronting the Self - Defining the Self
EUS 151 is a version of the Great Books course, although we will not be dealing with just books or just "great" books. EUS 151 examines the modern period in European literary culture from the Renaissance to the 20th century. The Renaissance saw an emphatic refocusing of writers and thinkers on the place and potential of the individual as a maker of his/her own fate. The emphasis on the individual occasioned a shift in value formation, which proved exhilarating in its opportunity for emancipatory experiences but also frightening in its potential for failure. Our deliberations will be informed by the view that culture is process, and literature is its primary vehicle of expression. We will use that vehicle to fathom human modes of being viewed from the European perspective rather than to determine the essentiality of the human being (cf. José Ortega y Gasset). Using a variety of philosophical and literary texts, we will trace the shifting modes of being human from the age of optimism (Renaissance-Enlightenment) to the age of subjectivity (18th-century sensibility, Romanticism), to the positivistic determinism of the 19th century (Realism, Nihilism, Naturalism), the spiritual dislocation and disillusionment following WWI, and finally to the existentialistic plight resultant of WWII and of modern science (e.g., relativity, psychoanalysis, cultural conflict). In other words, we will read the selected texts against the backdrop of Einstein’s general theory of relativity (1905), Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own (1929) and Freud's Civilization and its Discontents (1930). Yet each work will be read for the pleasure the individual text itself presents. Our effort will be directed at "materializing the pleasures of the text," as Roland Barthes urges us to do in Le Plaisir du texte (1973). And we will bear in mind R. W. Emerson's comment on nature, which is not without its significance for the continuing challenge of the humanities in general: "There is never a beginning; there is never an end ... but always circular power returning into itse
lf" ("The American Scholar" 47).
EUS 203 The Idea of Europe
EUS 203 is foundational to European Studies. A logical complement to EUS 201 (Western Europe), PSCI 211 (European Union), and EUS 250 (capstone seminar), it is specifically designed to enable students think transnationally and transculturally in their pursuit of a major or minor in European Studies. Europe has never been indifferent to its own meaning and significance. In this course we examine Europe not as a given but as an evolving entity dependent upon its various contexts. Hence, the focus is on the historical, political, economic, religious, philosophical, and cultural developments that have affected the construction of European identity since Antiquity. The course traces these developments from Herodotus up to the laying of the foundation of the European Union in the post-1945 period. In addition to serving as an introduction to historical turning points in the evolution of the idea of Europe as a definable space and cultural construct, this course offers students an opportunity to develop a multifaceted, interdisciplinary understanding of the European continent as a complex and dynamic region.