German gallery talk: Peasant revolt

By Miriam Weisburg
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, October 13, 2005

UA German studies professor Steven Martinson will be lecturing today about the works of Kathe Kollwitz. One cycle of Kollwitz's etchings depicts political scenes from Germany's peasant revolt in the 16th century.

Martinson, author of the book "Between Luther and Muntzer: The Peasant Revolt in German Drama and Thought," emphasizes the need for audience participation in his lectures so that he can also learn from his students, as well as involve his audience to reinforce their understanding.

"Dialogue is at the heart of education. Participants will be encouraged to engage in a discussion of Kollwitz's life and work," Martinson said.

His book is a study of the philosophical view into the religious and political history that occurred during the time of religious revolutionary Martin Luther and revolutionary Thomas Muntzer, and their roles in the peasant revolt.

"The study assesses the nature of debates among intellectuals and representations of the Peasant Revolt by German dramatists from the time of Goethe to today," Martinson said.

"The lecture and discussion will center around Kollwitz's cycle of etchings on the Peasant Revolt of 1525, which she completed between 1902 and 1908," Martinson said. "The talk will address three contexts: the historical context of the peasant revolt, the contexts in which Kollwitz was working, and our own contemporary context."

Kollwitz's art is important as it pertains to the political revolt and thought of the 16th century and how expressionism and the study of the revolt and its philosophies affect our culture in present time, Martinson said.

Martinson is currently working on a book about Friedrich Nietzsche and his teachings, because Martinson considers Nietzsche one of the three most influential philosophers of modern times, with Sigmund Freud and Albert Einstein.

Martinson explained that little has been written about the young Nietzsche and his early works, so Martinson is ready to delve into this part of his life and create a book that will show his great influence in modern thought from the entire spectrum of his life.

"Nietzsche's writings have had a powerful impact on 20th-century philosophy, art and literature, including Expressionism," Martinson said.

Martinson expects his lecture to be a fun and interactive experience, and expects his German studies colleagues, Tucson residents, German scholars and hopefully any other interested parties to attend.

The Gallery Talk is open to the public and starts at 2 p.m. today on the second floor of the UA Museum of Art, near the intersection of Speedway Boulevard and Park Avenue. Admission is free.