Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy Live!

Over 400 hours of free lecture audio with transcripts

“Rosenstock-Huessy! When he speaks, it’s like lightning!”

—Paul Tillich to Phillip Chamberlin, 1967

Sample Single Lecture Recordings

Rosenstock-Huessy commanded the magic and music of speech. He prepared lectures when giving a course for the first time and afterwards spoke freely; the content was always his own original thought. Rosenstock-Huessy tailored every lecture to his audience—in these lectures, mostly all male undergraduates whom he regarded as uninformed as well as unformed. His stated goal was to teach them what they would need to know twenty or thirty years later, when they might have become leaders in society.

He digressed often, but never lost direction. He employed every rhetorical device of a great teacher, including emphasis and anecdote. But he didn’t always finish every sentence; his grammar and syntax were rough; he often interrupted himself, not least to interrogate his students. These lectures and their transcripts capture him live, with all the flaws of all ex tempore speech.

Rosenstock-Huessy changed his approach to his subjects from year to year; he did not address specific topics as much as use them as points of inspiration. So although there are several lecture series with the title “Universal History,” he covers a unique set of themes in each series, and each series offers material not found in the others. Taken together, these lectures capture Rosenstock-Huessy expressing in English much of what he published only in German. Major components of what became his Soziologie and Die Sprache des Menschengeschlechts were first expressed in his Dartmouth lectures.

The early lectures were recorded with very primitive equipment in Dartmouth College classrooms, but in fact all the recordings are best understood with the transcripts in hand. Statements that may seem ambiguous or opaque in print are often perfectly clear when heard spoken, and the transcripts often make clear what may be hard to understand in the recordings.

In 2016, the Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy Literary Heirs generously agreed to make all the lecture recordings available for free download on the Fund’s website; they ask that you consider making a donation to the Fund in lieu of payment for listening to or downloading the lecture audio (and transcripts).

Rosenstock-Huessy​’s​ Lecture Courses (1949-1968)

Sample Single Lecture Recordings

About half of the 400 hours of surviving audio was recorded in Dartmouth classrooms by students and former students organized by C. Russell Keep (D’49). He recorded the first lecture course himself in 1949 and then found others to continue his work, beginning a custom of recording that others continued until 1968, whether it was Rosenstock-Huessy’s lectures at the University of Münster in 1958 or the lectures and talks his student Page Smith arranged for him to give at various University of California campuses. There was no choice but to record Rosenstock-Huessy on the move in the lecture hall, including his recurring interruptions, his pacing on the dais, and his utter lack of concern for the microphone or its location.

After arranging for the ongoing taping of his teacher’s lecture courses, Keep invited Rosenstock-Huessy to read some of his lecture material in a recording studio to capture a better quality recording. The result were two LPs, “Make Bold to Be Ashamed” and “History Must Be Told.” While both the dynamic range of Rosenstock-Huessy speaking ex tempore and the response in the hall are missing, the two recordings are well worth listening to.

In 1985, the Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy Fund commissioned Mark and Frances Huessy to make transcripts of the collected lecture recordings and to work on improving the quality of the recordings. Frances Huessy transcribed the lectures with Mark’s help, and Mark Huessy remastered the lectures with the help of his friend, Fred Williams, before converting the improved audio to the MP3 files available on this website. Frances and Mark finished the last of the transcriptions in 1993.

The work began with seed funding from the University of Florida, where Harold Stahmer, a former student of Rosenstock-Huessy’s, was a professor of religion. The bulk of the funding came later, mainly from Cynthia and Leo Oudejans-Harris, but from the Swiss foundation Omina Freundeshilfe and other sponsors as well.

The Oudejans Harrises also provided the major funding for the microfilming of Rosenstock-Huessy’s published and unpublished works, and the later publication of that material as the “Collected Works” on DVD. The work that Mark Huessy and Jonathan Bauerschmidt did to create the DVD underlies all the search functions on this website, and the microfilm images are the source of the many PDFs offered for reading and search.

The last contributions the Oudejans Harrises made before Cynthia’s death was the initial funding for the Digital Archive, again accompanied by major support from Omina Freundeshilfe. The Digital Archive was finished with funding from the German Foreign Office, which supports work to preserve German cultural heritage abroad.