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Nietzsche and the Germans


Admission requirements

Some background in philosophy is strongly recommended for students from other departments, because we shall do a lot of close reading of Nietzsche’s texts.
Toehoorders / à la carte-studenten hebben alleen toegang tot deze cursus met toestemming van de docent.


Nietzsche is still often thought of as a propagator of German nationalism and ‘proto-Nazi’ due to his sister’s alliance with Hitler. However, in the 19th century, there was hardly a stronger critique of German culture, philosophy, and politics than Friedrich Nietzsche.

In the first half of this course, we shall closely read Nietzsche’s texts in order to detect his perceptions of the Germans. We shall focus on his reception of Weimar Classicism (Humboldt’s Ideal of Bildung; Goethe’s and Schiller’s aestheticis), German Romanticism (Schopenhauer, Wagner, Schelling), Idealism (Kant, Hegel), Humanism (Feuerbach) and seek to determine its workings throughout Nietzsche’s work.

In the second half of the course, we shall focus on the reception of Nietzsche by German politics (Nazi ideologists such as Baeumler and Nazi top figures Goebbels and Hitler), and the role of Nietzsche’s sister Elisabeth in this. We shall do this in the context of 19th-century German politics and anti-Semitism. Then we shall continue with Nietzsche’s influence on German philosophy (Heidegger, Sloterdijk), literature (Thomas Mann, Elfriede Jelinek), and music (Strauss, Rhim). Towards the end of the course, you will have a thorough knowledge of Nietzsche’s philosophy, seen from the perspective of his reflections on the Germans, in the context of 19th-century German art and culture, and his role in the development of (early) 20th-century German culture.

Course objectives

Course objectives will be posted on Blackboard by the start of the course.


See Collegeroosters Wijsbegeerte 2012-2013, BA Wijsbegeerte, derde jaar.
See Timetables Philosophy 2012-2013 , Undergraduate Courses in English.

Mode of instruction

Lectures for background and contextual knowledge and seminars for thorough group discussions of reading materials.

Assessment method

  • Midterm: conference paper abstract

  • Final paper

  • Presentation at student conference

  • Participation in seminars

More than two absences in total are not allowed.
Students can receive an extra half point for active participation during the group discussion and organization of the conference.


Blackboard will be used for uploading all information about the course, course materials, uploading your papers and group discussions out of the class room.

Reading list

  • Friedrich Nietzsche, Sämtliche Werke. Kritische Studienausgabe in 15 Volumes. Dtv/De Gruyter, vol. 1-6 (and/or: the Cambridge edition of Nietzsche’s published works).

Students are required to acquire the correct German/English editions of Nietzsche’s works before the start of the course.
Additional materials (Goethe, Schiller etc.) will be provided by the teacher. Some texts (e.g. Thomas Mann) students will have to buy or loan from the library.
More information on the reading list will be provided at the start of the course.


Please register for this course on uSis.
See Inschrijven voor cursussen en tentamens

Exchange students and Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply. See also Registration for courses and examinations

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Aanmelden voor Contractonderwijs via:
Aanmelden voor Toehoorderschap via:

Na aanmelding ook inschrijven voor cursus en tentamen via uSis

Contact information

Dr. M.S. Prange
Office hours for students: Thursday 11:00-13.00 and by appointment.