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Study Trip to Frankfurt on 12 December 2012

Part I: “Heroisms and Hero Collective in German Democratic History” (Visit to the Paulskirche)
Part II: “Romantic Heroizations in the Fine Arts at the Turn of the 19th Century” (Visit to the Exhibition “Dark Romanticism – From Goya to Max Ernst” at the Städel Museum)

The excursion began with a tour of Paulskirche and its assembly room. In preparation the group discussed the Paulskirche’s part in German democratic history and especially looked for potential heroization processes. In the discussion at the church it became clear that Paulskirche is bound up with not only national history but also the city of Frankfurt’s history. The group found the kind of memorialization, as it is manifested currently, slightly austere and consciously non-heroizing, especially since the members of the Paulskirche Parliament do not lend themselves to being heroized.

The group then visited the exhibition “Dark Romanticism – From Goya to Max Ernst” at the Städel Museum, first being introduced to the history of the Museum and the aesthetic principles of Romanticism. In the discussion on heroization phenomena, the concept of the sublime came up in addition to the question which figures have the potential to be heroized. In the paintings by Henry Fuseli the group was shown, for example, the painter deals with John Milton’s Paradise Lost (1667), which turns the figure of Satan into one who heroically suffers from his own transgressions and certainly calls for the sympathy of the readers. Fuseli’s depictions of Satan, for instance, in Satan Starting, Touched by Ithuriel's Spear, in turn then also show an aestheticized manly body. Strategies in the portrayal of sublimity and heroism were recurring themes in the exhibition.