Guide to the Geza von Molnar (1932-2001) Papers

Collection Title: Geza von Molnar (1932-2001) Papers
Dates: 1967-2002
Identification: 11/3/15/5
Creator: Molnár, Géza von, 1932-
Extent: 18 Boxes
Language of Materials: English, German
Abstract: The von Molnár Papers fill eighteen boxes, spanning the years 1967 to 2002. The greater part of the papers relate to von Molnár's work in the German Department of Northwestern University including numerous student papers, course related materials and many handwritten research and lecture notes. The following seven subseries divide the papers: Biographical Materials, Correspondence, Teaching files, Committees, Research Notes, Student Work & Publications. Many of the items are in German.
Acquisition Information: The Géza von Molnár Papers comprise a number of accessions. The following materials were donated to the University Archives by Geza von Molnar: Accession Numbers 94-130 (July 15, 1994), 94-188 (October 19, 1994), 97-133 (August 12, 1997), 98-161(August 31, 1998), 98-188 (June 15, 1998), 99-138 (August 11, 1999), 99-157 (September 2, 1999), 00-260 (September 18, 2000), and 01-10 (January 16, 2001). Barbara von Molnár donated additional papers on November 14, 2002, as Accession Number 02-163, and the Department of German transferred materials on July 7, 2003 as Accession Number 03-102.
Processing Information: Belinda Summers; summer 2003.
Separated Materials: Two and one-third cubic feet of duplicate materials were discarded. A photograph of George Edward and colleagues was transferred to the George Edward file in the Archives' Photograph Collection.
Conditions Governing Access: Permission to use the files containing student papers must be obtained from the University Archivist.
Repository: Northwestern University Archives
Deering Library, Room 110
1970 Campus Dr.
Evanston, IL, 60208-2300
Phone: 847-491-3354

Biographical/Historical Information

Born in Leipzig in 1932 of Hungarian and Jewish-German ancestry, Géza von Molnár, a respected scholar and beloved teacher, grew up in Nazi Germany. Von Molnar established Northwestern University's Graduate Program in German Literature and Critical Thought as well as the Undergraduate Program in European Thought and Culture. His research interests included Goethe, Kant, and the moral structure of Germany's national relationship with

Von Molnar was sent to a Hungarian boarding school during the Nazi regime and credits his survival to a governess and a Hungarian farmer, who hid him during the war. Von Molnár graduated magna cum laude from Hunter College in New York City in 1958. Two years later he received his Masters degree in German Literature from Stanford University, and was awarded his PhD from the same institution in 1966.

The list of his awards and honors is extensive, including a Scholarship, Fellowship and Research Grant from Stanford and three Research grants from Northwestern University. While he taught at Northwestern University, von Molnár received four Outstanding Teaching Awards.

Von Molnár joined the faculty of Northwestern University in 1963. After he taught at Dartmouth College for a year in the 1970s, he returned to Northwestern University and served as Chair of the Department of German, teaching at NU for a total of ten years. He established Northwestern's Graduate program in German Literature and Critical Thought, while co-founding and directing the Undergraduate program in European Thought and Culture.

Beginning with an essay published in 1979, “Die Fragwürdigkeit des Fragezeichens: Eine Überlebungen zur Paktszene,” von Molnár published some ten essays and an independent monograph on the relationship between Goethe's work and the Critical Philosophy of Kant and Fichte. Von Molnár was the author of three books: Novalis' Fichte Studies (1970), Romantic Vision, Ethical Contest: Novalis and Artistic Autonomy (1987), and Goethe's Kantstudien (1994). His research sought to link the ethical dimensions of Enlightenment thought with the aesthetic vision of Romantic Idealism. The ethical considerations of his work also led von Molnár to investigate the moral vacuum that structured Germany's tragic relationship with European Jewry.

Everything he did seemed to issue from an ethical conviction so generous in its regard for family, friends, students, and colleagues that he came to embody the very spirit of poesy that was the subject of his writing

Géza von Molnár died in Evanston, Illinois, on July 27, 2001, survived by Barbara von Molnár, his wife of forty-three years; two daughters, Karen and Anina; a brother, Stephen; and a granddaughter.

Scope and Content

The von Molnár Papers fill eighteen boxes, spanning the years 1967 to 2002. The greater part of the papers relate to von Molnár's work in the German Department of Northwestern University including numerous student papers, course related materials and many handwritten research and lecture notes. The following seven subseries divide the papers: Biographical Materials, Correspondence, Teaching files, Committees, Research Notes, Student Work & Publications. Many of the items are in German.

The biographical materials, dated from 1979 to 2001, start with von Molnár's personal Background Narrative and Statement of Plans and include CVs and obituaries.

Correspondence includes both general and subject files. The general correspondence files, dating from 1967 to 2001, concern mainly interdepartmental business and student affairs, including Northwestern University German Department correspondence, correspondence with other universities' German departments, committee-related correspondence, correspondence with publishers, and personal correspondence.

The subject correspondence files are arranged first by subject alphabetically and then chronologically within each specific subject.

The Athenäum file contains correspondence between von Molnár and Publisher Athenäum regarding the Jahrbüch für Romantik for the year of 1997. This discourse is conducted entirely in German. Following this, the Aufbau newspaper folder contains a few letters spanning approximately one year from May 1991 to April 1992.

The Avalon Professorship in the Humanities file deals largely with correspondence seeking to appoint a candidate for a permanent position as the Chair. The Consortium on Institutional Cooperation file consists mainly of statistical information.

In the Chicago YIVO file, von Molnár is invited to (and accepts) lend his name as an honorary academic sponsor of the exhibit “A Century of Ambivalence: The Views of Russia and the Soviet Union 1881 to the present.” The said exhibit attracted over 30,000 people to the galleries at the new Harold Washington Library. The Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (German Academic Exchange Service) folder covers the years 1976-1989. Géza von Molnár is invited to participate (and accepts) in the DAAD Conference “German Studies in the US: A Critique of 'Germanistik'?” in Tempe, Arizona. Other correspondence in this folder is conducted in German.

The Goethe-Gesellschaft file (Goethe Organization, based in Weimar, Germany), 1971-1991, is conducted entirely in German. In the Festschrift/John Fetzer file, von Molnár is invited to contribute to a Festschrift for John Fetzer. He accepts and his manuscript is included in this file.

The following four files are limited to specific individuals with whom von Molnár conducts personal correspondence. In the Lake Forest College folder von Molnár is asked to serve as an external examiner for student Arthur Rohr who was involved in a project in self-directed study. Von Molnár accepts the request. The following three files contain personal correspondence between von Molnár and specific individuals.

Correspondence in the next file between von Molnár and the publishers Mouton & Co., based in the Netherlands, deals with the publishing of his book – Novalis' Fichte Studies.

The Modern Language Association papers span approximately a year and a half, February 1985 – July 1986, and chiefly relates to the 1986 MLA Annual Convention. The National Endowment for the Humanities folder holds letters to and from von Molnár and applications for fellowships. The Department of Comparative Literature file consists of many letters to and from von Molnár relating to Northwestern University's Department of Comparative Literature. However, the correspondence is not limited to Northwestern University. Included are several letters to and from Yale University, Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst, John Hopkins University, Loyola University, Memphis State University and Buffalo University.

The Novalis file contains correspondence to and from Professor von Molnár and the International Novalis Organization conducted mostly in German.

The German Department papers, spanning 20 years, consists of mainly interdepartmental correspondence. These are followed by the University of California file, in which Professor von Molnár and Professor Winder McConnell discuss von Molnár's contribution to John Fetzer's Festschrift. In the University of Kentucky file, an invitation to Professor von Molnár to participate in a German Studies Workshop at the University is confirmed. The final folder in this category contains personal correspondence to and from Fred Vesper.

Teaching files, relating to courses von Molnár taught while at Northwestern University, are arranged in course number order starting with A04-6 and continuing to D04-D51. The next folder contains two of Professor von Molnár's grade books from the years 1969 and 1970. The German Department class schedules are for the years 1999-2001. The file containing the course and teacher evaluations forms span the years 1977-1985. The Humanities Committee folders, dating from 1978 to 1994, reflect von Molnár's involvement in this program and contain correspondence with other faculty members, proposals for the Humanities Program, and course descriptions. The Northwestern University German Department programs date from 1979 to 1981 and include yearly class schedules, teaching assignments and German Department inter-office correspondence.

The following category is student work. All files corresponding to this category are in alphabetical order. Some individual papers are dated. There are seventeen folders in this category.

Von Molnár's role as a graduate student advisor is reflected in the majors and graduate student files. The BA/MA exams file contains drafts and proposals for BA and MA examinations in both German and English. Similarly, in the PhD qualifying file, there are many drafts and completed PhD examination questions for the Northwestern University German Department. In the German major file are the names of German major students from 1983 to 1984. The last file in the teaching files is the recommendations file in which von Molnár composed letters of recommendations for students applying to graduate school.

The succeeding three files compile the committee category. The Fulbright Scholarships Committee and applications file consists of completed applications, acceptances and recommendations for the Fulbright Scholarship and spans the years 1972 to 1992.

The Division III Committee covers the period of 1976/1977. Géza was elected to serve on the Committee in November of 1976. Information regarding the Committee ceases after 1977.

In the research notes category, there are six folders of von Molnár's undated handwritten notes in both German and English.

The last category is publications, included in which are signed courtesy articles sent to von Molnár between 1973 and 2000. Following this is a paper entitled “The Eternal Jew” in both German and English. Undated papers and speeches presented by Professor von Molnár are in the next two files. Two folders of reprints spanning the years 1970 to 2002 follow these. Many of these materials are undated.

The final file in this series is a galley proof of Novalis: Fichte Studies, published in 1970. In addition, this box contains a folder of copies of title pages and inscriptions of gift books to von Molnár, and notes removed from von Molnár's books plus copies of title pages from the corresponding books. Notes and title pages fill two more boxes. These are foldered individually by book, including a photocopy of each book's title page, and arranged alphabetically by the surname of the author.

Two record cartons contain books from von Molnár's collection filled with his annotations and numerous handwritten insertions.

Arrangement of Materials

The following seven subseries divide the papers: Biographical Materials, Correspondence, Teaching files, Committees, Research Notes, Student Work & Publications.


Corporate Name

Northwestern University (Evanston, Ill.). German Department--Faculty

Personal Name

Molnár, Géza von, 1932-


German literature--Study and teaching (Higher)--Illinois--Evanston

Romanticism--Germany--Study and teaching (Higher)

Container List / Contents

  • Correspondence
    • General, 1967-1983Box 1, Folder 2
    • General, 11/83-6/91Box 1, Folder 3
    • General, 1991-2001Box 2, Folder 1
    • General, n.d.Box 2, Folder 2
  • Subject Correspondence
    • American Council of Learned Societies (A.C.L.S.), 9/72-2/75Box 2, Folder 3
    • Athenäum, "Jahrbüch für Romantik", 1997-1997Box 2, Folder 4
    • "Aufbau" Newspaper, n.d.Box 2, Folder 5
    • Avalon Professorship in the Humanities, 1999-1999Box 2, Folder 6
    • Chicago YIVO Society, 1991-1992Box 2, Folder 7
    • Consortium on Institutional Cooperation, 1971-1973Box 2, Folder 8
    • Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (D.A.A.D.), 1976-1989Box 2, Folder 9
    • Festschrift – Fetzer, John, 1994-1995Box 2, Folder 10
    • Goethe-Gesellschaft, 1/71-2/91Box 2, Folder 11
    • Harrison, Mary, 1989-1999Box 2, Folder 12
    • Hemming, Hans, 1/85-1989Box 2, Folder 13
    • Kast, Dorethea, 11/95-9/97Box 2, Folder 14
    • Kluender, Robert, 1971-1973Box 3, Folder 1
    • Lake Forest College, 1969-1970Box 3, Folder 2
    • Lehmann, Peter, 1971-1985Box 3, Folder 3
    • Mähl, Hans-Joachim, 1963-2001Box 3, Folder 4
    • McCumber, John, 1991-1991Box 3, Folder 5
    • Modern Language Association, 1985-1986Box 3, Folder 6
    • Mouton & Co., 4/68-8/74Box 3, Folder 7
    • National Endowment for the Humanities, 1988-1999Box 3, Folder 8
    • Northwestern Dept. of Comparative Literature, 1967-1988Box 3, Folder 9
    • Northwestern German Dept, 1967-1987Box 3, Folder 10
    • Northwestern German Dept, 1987-1991Box 3, Folder 11
    • N.U. German Dept Meetings, 1980-1983Box 3, Folder 12
    • "Novalis", 1993-2001Box 3, Folder 13
    • Taylor, Ronald, 1977-1991Box 3, Folder 14
    • Rosenblatt, Peter, 9/76-10/93Box 3, Folder 15
    • Stott, David, 1972-1985Box 3, Folder 16
    • University of California, 1995-1995Box 3, Folder 17
    • University of Kentucky, 1994-1994Box 3, Folder 18
    • Vesper, Fred, 1989-1992Box 3, Folder 19
  • Teaching Files
    • Course A04-6, 1983-2000Box 4, Folder 1
    • Course B01-1, 1978-1994Box 4, Folder 2
    • Courses B000-B16, 1979-1982Box 4, Folder 3
    • Courses B15+B17, 1979-2001Box 4, Folder 4
    • Course B33-3, 1983-1996Box 4, Folder 5
    • Courses B40+B41, 1989-2000Box 4, Folder 6
    • Courses C10-C54, 1976-2001Box 4, Folder 7
    • Course D10, 1994-1996Box 4, Folder 8
    • Course D24, 1992-1994Box 4, Folder 9
    • Courses D04-D51, 1976-1987Box 4, Folder 10
    • Grade Books, 1969-1970Box 4, Folder 11
    • N. U. German Dept. Class Schedules, 1999-2001Box 5, Folder 1
    • Course and Teacher Evaluations, 1977-1985Box 5, Folder 2
    • Northwestern University Humanities Program, 1978-1991Box 5, Folder 3
    • Northwestern University Humanities Program, 1991-1994Box 5, Folder 4
    • German Dept. Programs, 1979-1986Box 5, Folder 5
  • Student Work
    • Grimm, Catherine, n.d.Box 5, Folder 6
    • Lehmann, Peter, n.d.Box 5, Folder 7
    • Niederhauser, Janet, 1/75-6/89Box 5, Folder 8
    • Sgarlata, David, n.d.Box 5, Folder 9
    • Shae, Michael, 1990-1991Box 6, Folder 1
    • Stephan, Renate - Dissertation Ch. 3, n.d.Box 6, Folder 2
    • Stephan, Renate - Dissertation Ch. 4, n.dBox 6, Folder 3
    • Winters, Julie - Dissertation Proposal & Dissertation., n.dBox 6, Folder 4
    • Winters, Julie - Dissertation, 1993Box 6, Folder 5
    • Winters, Julie - Dissertation Ch. 5, n.d.Box 6, Folder 6
    • Winters, Julie - Papers and correspondence, 1992-1993Box 6, Folder 7
    • Student Papers: A-BBox 6, Folder 8
    • Student Papers: B-FBox 7, Folder 1
    • Student Papers: F-KBox 7, Folder 2
    • Student Papers: L-NBox 7, Folder 3
    • Student Papers: N-WBox 8, Folder 1
    • Student Papers: W-Z & unidentifiedBox 8, Folder 2
    • Student Papers: unidentifiedBox 8, Folder 3
  • Majors and Graduate Students
    • BA, MA Exams, 1971-1980Box 8, Folder 4
    • PHD Qualifying Exams, 1979-1988Box 9, Folder 1
    • German Majors, 1983-1984Box 9, Folder 2
    • Graduate Recommendations, 1976-1988Box 9, Folder 3
  • Committees
    • Fulbright Scholarships Committee & Applications, 1972-1992Box 9, Folder 4
    • Committees/Searches, 1990-1993Box 9, Folder 5
    • Division III Committee Council, 1976-1977Box 9, Folder 6
  • Research
    • Personal – Hand written, n.dBox 9, Folder 7
    • Personal – Hand written, n.d.Box 10, Folder 1
    • Personal – Hand written, n.d.Box 10, Folder 2
    • Personal – Hand written, n.d.Box 10, Folder 3
    • Personal – Hand written, n.d.Box 10, Folder 4
    • Personal – Hand written, n.d.Box 10, Folder 5
    • Grants & Budgets, 2/84-7/92Box 11, Folder 1
  • Publications
    • Signed Courtesy Articles, 1973-1979Box 11, Folder 2
    • Signed Courtesy Articles, 1979-2000Box 11, Folder 3
    • “The Eternal Jew” (German, with English translation), n.d.Box 11, Folder 4
    • Papers and Speeches, n.d.Box 12, Folder 1
    • Papers and Speeches, n.d.Box 12, Folder 2
    • Reprints, 1970-2002Box 13, Folder 1
    • Reprints, n.dBox 13, Folder 2
    • “Goethe and Critical Philosophy” (English and German), typescripts and notes, n.d.Box 13, Folder 3
    • "Novalis - Fichte Studies" Galley, n.d.Box 13, Folder 4
  • Notes Removed from Von Molnar's Books
    • Notes (with copy of title page)
    • Notes (with copy of title page)
    • Notes (with copy of title page)
    • Books with von Molnár's annotations
    • Books with von Molnár's annotations
    • Copies of title pages and inscriptions of gift books to von Molnár
  • Biographical Materials, 1970-2001Box 1, Folder 1