Scholar Hans Vaget returns to offer thoughts on Wagner’s relationship with America. This lecture offers a condensed English version of Prof. Vaget’s recent book, Richard Wagners Amerika. Eine Ausgrabung (2022). Examining Wagner’s repeatedly stated intention to emigrate to America, and drawing on the privately printed Reminiscences of his American dentist, N.S. Jenkins, we can now reassess the role of America in Wagner’s imagination. Dr. Jenkins was a much sought-after cutting edge dentist who treated Wagner and became a friend. Prof. Vaget highlights the lasting, though largely obscured attachment of the creator of The Ring to the revolutionary heritage of the United States. He shines a light on the prominent role of American dentistry in Europe, and illuminates a little-known but surprisingly revealing aspect of German American cultural relations in the Nineteenth Century.
In-person, followed by a social hour with refreshments, and livestreamed (viewable up to 36 hours after the start of the event). WSNY Members will receive livestream link automatically by e-mail; no need to pre-register.
About the speaker: Hans Rudolf Vaget, a native of Marienbad (Czechoslovakia), received his academic training at the universities of Munich, Tuebingen, Cardiff (Wales), and Columbia University, New York, where he earned a PhD in German literature. From 1967 to 2004 he taught German Studies and Comparative Literature at Smith College. He is the author of books on Goethe, Thomas Mann, and Wagner; most recently (2022): Richard Wagners Amerika. Eine Ausgrabung (Excavating Wagner’s America). Associated with the WSNY since the 1980s, he served, from 2005 to 2013, as co-editor of wagnerspectrum, the first independent journal of Wagner Studies; he also contributes regularly to The Wagner Journal and Wagner Notes. He first visited the Bayreuth Festival in 1959 and returned frequently.