Mediating the Universal and Particular: Herder’s Tone and its Pastoral Performance

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The article examines the constitutive role played by Herder’s theories of tone and aurality, as practiced as in his sermons, for his foundational concepts of universal and culturally particular communities. The author examines Herder’s project as pastor of creating a particular, rarified cultural code separate from the Latinate, Roman Catholic tradition or that of actors, both in his sermons and song books. The focus is on Herder’s performance as pastor in Weimar, which has posed a lacuna in scholarship, in part due to the paucity of textual material available as he resisted the publication of his sermons. The author uses archival sources in order to open up new methodologies beyond traditional textual interpretation to study the interactive and performative dimensions of Herder’s preaching, and their formation of publics. While largely taken as secular in contemporary scholarly accounts throughout the humanities, Herder’s worldly concepts of community, the author argues, emerge from the Lutheran two-kingdoms doctrine (Zwei-Reichs Lehre). It is in the pastor’s performance that the binary of the visible and invisible kingdom is disrupted and assumes a dialectical form; the pastor’s language is to aid in mediating grace to a universal humanity such that they enter the Kingdom of Christ. The author’s reading destabilizes several influential narratives concerning the format of the sermon and the role of aurality in the eighteenth-century, and calls to question the narrative of the decline of the preacher during the Enlightenment starting from the period of the Reformation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-22
Number of pages22
JournalThe Germanic Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Yonsei University Research Grant of 2020.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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