Theses - German and Dutch


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  • ItemOpen Access
    Narratives of Normalisation: War Discourses in German Politics and Literature After Unification
    Wunderlich, Kathrin
    My thesis focuses on the Federal Republic’s foreign policy ‘normalisation’ after unification, specifically Germany’s gradual re-militarisation and participation in offensive military engagements abroad, and investigates to what extent German authors – through their literary writing and in their role as public intellectuals – have participated in, advanced or even shaped the narratives that supported this ‘normalisation’. Extant scholarship on literature in the context of ‘normalisation’ has largely focused on literary representations of ‘normalisation’ in the context of unification and the legacy of National Socialism. Meanwhile, existing research on literary writing that engages with the events that precipitated Germany’s foreign policy ‘normalisation’ mostly centres around the literary representation of these events. Expanding on this research, this thesis aims to advance readings of contemporary German-language texts through the lens of ‘normalisation’ and to demonstrate the extent to which they can be read as articulations of war discourses and thus become narratives of ‘normalisation’ in their own right. The structure of this thesis is guided by a chronology of events. Based on the work of Marcus Hawel, three ‘normalisation’ milestones have been identified, namely the Yugoslav Wars, the terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001 in the United States and the War in Afghanistan. In preparation for the discussion of these milestones, a prologue chapter will offer a thorough introduction to the subject of Germany’s ‘normalisation’. Extant definitions and conceptualisations of ‘normalisation’ will be considered and synthesised to advance a novel understanding of ‘normalisation’ for the purpose of this thesis. Following that, each milestone will be discussed in a dedicated chapter, which provides context by giving an overview of events and identifying the core strands of the political ‘normalisation’ discourse before moving on a discussion of how these core strands have entered, are reproduced or advanced in the literary realm. This approach allows not only for a consideration of these milestone events in isolation but also offers a diachronic perspective into how war discourses evolved over time in both the political and the literary realm.
  • ItemControlled Access
    Analysing Contemporary German-Language Literature through a Translingual-Intermedial Framework
    Dooley, Lauren
    Within the translingual analytical framework, scholars have frequently come to focus on the ‘how’ behind linguistic mixture in literary texts. While the field has expanded to include Eastern European writers like Katja Petrowskaja and more unique examples like Yoko Tawada, there remains a void in the scholarship when it comes to Iberian and Latin American writers living and working in Germany. This dissertation seeks to fill this gap through an application of translingual analytical paradigms to three Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking writers: José F. A. Oliver (born in Hausach to Spanish Gastarbeiter parents in 1961), Bettina Isabel Rocha (born in 1970 to a German mother and Spanish father) and Zé do Rock (born in 1956 in Porto Alegre, home to the largest German-speaking minority in Brazil). The dissertation centres on three key themes –– belonging, exoticisation and democratisation of language –– to explore how translingual writing strategies enable writers of mixed linguistic backgrounds to push the boundaries of linguistic borders, challenge traditional conceptions of these three themes, and, ultimately, create positive zones of cooperative contact between cultural spheres. The dissertation combines translingual analysis with an attention to intermedial features in order to explain how fluidity of both language and media allows writers to further challenge contemporary writing conventions, while aiding scholars in understanding the effects of such fluidity on both writer and reader alike. The intermedial element in particular enhances the immersive capacities of translingual writing strategies, thus increasing interactivity between text and reader and, ultimately, creating a type of literature that overcomes the limitations of written language and/or a single literary genre in representing the realities of a multicultural existence.
  • ItemEmbargo
    Conceptions of Hearing in German Modernist Writing
    Roberts, Syamala
    This thesis traces the emergence of an ‘aural imaginary’ in German-language writing of the early twentieth century, c. 1899 – 1934. This period of historical and cultural transition ushered in the need to reframe personal, political and artistic identity, to respond to innovations in culture and media, and to adapt to new social realities. Drawing on a wide range of genres, I examine the effect of these changes upon the modernist sensorium. The contribution of this thesis is distinct from, but builds upon, scholarship that has sought to investigate the new media cultures of the early twentieth century; how sound is represented by and incorporated into literary writing; and studies of music, noise and performativity in literature. By shifting the focus to hearing and listening rather than sound, I offer a new way of conceptualising a classic problem of German literary modernism: the artist as subject and creator of their work. My analyses indicate, firstly, that the aural was an important source of inspiration and imagination for these writers, and secondly, that this aural impulse produced a complex poetics of hearing, to which readers must remain attentive. The first two chapters establish hearing as a form of discourse, working in parallel and in exchange with other orders of expression and experience, such as the visual, the gestural, and speech. Chapter 1 examines two aural figures from Rainer Maria Rilke’s early poetry: prayer (an appeal to the ear of God) and the Annunciation (the Virgin Mary’s reception of the Angel Gabriel’s message). I then follow the figure of the Annunciation into the painting of Paula Modersohn-Becker, an artist with whom Rilke discussed this motif. The life and writings of Modersohn-Becker form the focus of Chapter 2, which shows how her aesthetic aims and techniques were inspired by theories of vibration widespread in the era. I extrapolate Modersohn-Becker’s aesthetics of vibration to propose a theory of feminine vibratory subjectivity. Chapter 3 employs a Freudian model to establish the idea of the acoustical primal scene, transformed in this period by the new medium of the telephone. I suggest that Franz Kafka and Walter Benjamin understood the telephone as part of a longer tradition of listening, specifically to the sea shell, and that this blending of tradition with contemporary media discourse gave unique expression to their respective literary preoccupations. Chapter 4 explores the representation and poetological functions of overhearing and eavesdropping in texts by Robert Walser, Franz Kafka and Thomas Mann. Using approaches from queer and affect theory, I develop a notion of overhearing as generating an ambivalent form of intimacy and community. This intimacy arises in response to, then integrates, the barriers that it encounters. Overall, this thesis challenges the abiding critical focus in literary sound studies upon the representation and integration of sound in literature (the so-called ‘objects’ of hearing), to emphasise instead the subjectivity of hearing: how writers conceive of hearing and transfigure it by means of the literary text. By taking a literary-critical approach to texts which are not traditionally considered literature (diaries; letters) and incorporating material from other genres (painting; photography), I also aim to expand the scope of the modernist literary canon, underlining its diverse and intermedial nature.
  • ItemEmbargo
    Narratives of Citizenship in the German Novel, 1926-1959
    Mandelbaum, Melina
    This dissertation explores narratives of citizenship in the German novel from the Weimar Republic to the post-war era, 1926 – 1959. As an inherently contested concept, citizenship presented an important terrain for many of the twentieth century’s key political struggles. The main body of the dissertation is divided into three parts, each of which interweaves close readings of one or two novels with the discussion of a major change in German citizenship law and the historically informed study of a theme or concept that relates to citizenship also beyond the temporal and local bounds of the dissertation. In the first chapter, in which I discuss Marieluise Fleißer’s Mehlreisende Frieda Geier (1931) and Irmgard Keun’s Gilgi, eine von uns (1931), I analyse the place of gender and the body in the politics of citizenship during the period following the introduction of the female franchise in Weimar Germany, and investigate an historic connection between narratives of sexual violence and the constitution of sovereignty. In the second chapter, based on readings of B. Traven’s Das Totenschiff (1926) and Anna Seghers’ Transit (1944), I look at the history and narratives of the passport as the primary bureaucratic signifier of citizenship, as well as the conscious production of statelessness under National Socialism. In the final chapter, in which I discuss Uwe Johnson’s Mutmassungen über Jakob (1959), I explore the nexus between socialist citizenship, ideologies of progress, and phenomena of psycho-social division. The three chapters are embedded in a broader historical analysis provided in the introduction and conclusion. In approaching citizenship through the lens of creative fiction and the intimate insight into socio-cultural imaginaries and practices it offers, I aim to contribute to the growing field of interdisciplinary citizenship studies and to promote a deeper understanding of how contestations over citizenship have been staged not only administratively and physically, but also symbolically.
  • ItemControlled Access
    Visions of Dystopia in German Literature, 1913-1957
    Crew, Thomas
    The following study investigates German dystopian literature. Until now, such literature has been subsumed under the much broader and poorly defined utopian genre. As a result, German dystopianism has not yet been identified as a coherent cultural phenomenon. A primary aim of the project is therefore to establish the field of dystopian research in the German context. At the heart of the dissertation are four works, which I consider representative of the genre: Bernhard Kellermann’s novel Der Tunnel (1913), Georg Kaiser’s Gas plays (1917–1920), and two works by Ernst Jünger: Der Arbeiter (1932) and Gläserne Bienen (1957). Besides novelists and playwrights, close attention is paid to various contemporary thinkers, from the industrialist Walther Rathenau and the anarchist Gustav Landauer to the conservative philosophers Friedrich Georg Jünger and Martin Heidegger. In many cases, such figures were in direct contact with my primary authors. Georg Kaiser routinely ran his manuscripts past Landauer, while the work of Heidegger and the Jünger brothers is closely interrelated. The latter two were both in the audience when Heidegger first presented his ‘Frage nach der Technik’ in Munich in 1953. Following this interdisciplinary approach, the dissertation also contains 35 images, including contemporary stage designs and examples from Jünger’s numerous photo anthologies. As my research shows, German dystopias are characterised by a set of recurring themes: massification and the end of the individual, the (social) engineer or technocrat, anti-rationalism, and technology. The genre turns against the progressivist optimism of the nineteenth century and takes inspiration from both Rathenau’s notion of the “mechanization of the world” (coined in 1912) and the contemporary reception of America (“Americanism”). The latter phenomenon turns out to be central to the development of dystopian literature across Europe. A further, defining characteristic of the genre is a widely denied anti-utopianism. The reflexive denial of this characteristic in the scholarship points, not least, towards a sloppy understanding of utopia as a concept. Far from a benign longing for a better world, the term denotes the desire to re-engineer humanity, which is conceived as dangerously deficient in the utopian imagination. The thesis thus challenges prevailing conceptions of utopia, which is revealed as fundamentally misanthropic.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Activist Intellectuals and Counterterrorism Debates in the Federal Republic of Germany (1968-77)
    Corke, Catriona
    During the 1970s, the Federal Republic of Germany faced a series of attacks by groups motivated by left-wing revolutionary goals, the most famous example being the Red Army Faction (RAF). Much has been written about these groups and their actions, but this thesis situates the phenomenon of left-wing political violence in its historical and cultural context by focussing on the heated debate that ensued in the public sphere. Intellectuals (such as authors, journalists, and academics) who intervened in these debates were often labelled as ‘sympathisers’ by the CDU/CSU alliance and in the Springer press. The thesis builds on previous scholarship on the so-called sympathiser debate by looking at the role of the ‘sympathiser’ in less passive terms; many intellectuals felt absolutely compelled to intervene as a means of holding the West German Rechtsstaat to account. The way that the Federal German government treated suspected and convicted members of terrorist groups, especially once imprisoned, for example, was seen by some as a sore reminder of how West Germany was yet to divest itself of its Nazi past and prove itself a legitimate German state. This thesis explores where activist intellectuals stood in relation to the public sphere(s), the political establishment (both the SPD-led government and the CDU/CSU opposition parties), as well as to the prison system in the Federal Republic, exploring the motivations that drove writers to campaign on behalf of the radical Left. The contrast between the assumed and actual motivations of intellectuals who intervened in counterterrorism debates in the 1970s exposes among other things the Federal Republic’s uncertain place in the world at the time. Terrorism was an international phenomenon, yet the domestic debates in response tell a specifically West German story.
  • ItemOpen Access
    The (im)materiality of Goethe's geology
    Caisley, Jennifer; Caisley, Jennifer [0000-0003-0112-8877]
    My PhD project explores Goethe’s writings on geology from the perspective of the interplay between materiality and immateriality. Specifically, I posit that Goethe’s descriptions of mountains, mines and rocks focus in equal part on the material and immaterial characteristics of the object in question, without privileging one or the other. Drawing on Goethe’s presentation of the role of the imagination in geological enquiry, his belief in the existence of generative forces within geological masses and his colour theory, inter alia, I demonstrate that Goethe’s geological writings are shaped by the monist duality of (im)materiality. I explore this hypothesis with reference to Goethe’s engagement with the project to reopen the mine at Ilmenau, which was a deeply formative experience for the development of his geological theories. My thesis makes a contribution to two separate fields of enquiry. Firstly, within the sphere of Goethe studies, it sheds light on Goethe’s geological work in general, which has been greatly under-researched compared to his endeavours in other scientific fields. In so doing, it also seeks to being together the arguments pursued by many critics to date, who have primarily focused on either the material or the immaterial in Goethe’s work, without attempting to create a synthesis of both. Secondly, it also represents a new avenue of enquiry for the burgeoning field of immateriality studies, which has primarily focused on disciplines such as anthropology and archaeology to date. In light of Goethe’s explicit emphasis on holism in his studies of the natural sciences, I contend that research on his geological writings (and, indeed, on the rest of his scientific output) should approach questions of materiality and immateriality with an eye to the same holism. In so doing, this paints a detailed picture both of Goethe’s engagement with the issue of (im)materiality and of his understanding of the geological world.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Hands-On Realism: Perception, Imagination, and Speech in Brecht's Poetry
    Britten, Robert
    Brecht’s somewhat idiosyncratic conception of realist art appears to pit “Erlebnisse” unfavourably against “Kenntnisse”. With all that is encompassed by the term Verfremdung, Brecht is understood to have looked to thwart would-be passive spectators. But while it is tempting to think of Brecht in opposition to experience-based art, and to draw sharp distinctions between supposedly naïve experience and critical thought, or between passive spectating and active intervention, my thesis highlights the shortcomings of this approach. Even many of Brecht’s most politically acute poems are in fact remarkably evocative of rich perceptual experience. Landscapes in and between seasons, everyday scenes and objects, trees, clouds, bodies of water, form the backdrop to large-scale historical events. Crucially, the figures that populate these poems are precisely not just spectators, but they are keen and active perceivers: they squint their eyes or turn their heads, they notice one thing and not another, they are not limited to what happens to be in view any given moment, but supplement what they encounter with recollections from the past and simulations of possible futures. In such poems, against the tempting fiction of the passive spectator, Brecht shows us perceivers in action, who bring reality dynamically and critically into view. Chapter 1 outlines the striking echo of such poems in recent work on perception and action in psychology and the philosophy of mind. Against the still pervasive idea that perceiving is a kind of spectating in relation to a head-internal theatre, in which perceptual information accrues to form a picture of the external world, theorists of the so-called pragmatic turn situate perception in much closer proximity to action: perceivers are not passive spectators of a world from which they are at a remove, but engage with one that ‘shows up for us in experience only insofar as we know how to make contact with it, […] only insofar as we are able to bring it into focus’ (Noë). The following two chapters attend to poems that thematise or are structured around acts of mental simulation (2) and acts of speech (3). Where those that speak in Brecht’s poems imagine or remember, they meet the world half-way, self-generating alternative contexts that open up space for critical reflection. Where Brecht exhibits, juxtaposes and critically examines the utterances made by different speakers from different perspectives, he reminds us that the function of language is not exhausted in naming, or in representing different objects in the world, but that, with language, we do things. Chapter 4, finally, brings this idea of active world-engagement to the question of Verfremdung. If Brecht was wary of excessive familiarity that would bias readers and audiences into accepting the reality that simply presents itself, this is not a concern about passive or impotent perceivers, but about highly efficient ones: familiarity and habit determine everyday perception precisely because skilled and active perceivers reach out to the world and bring their own expectations and prior knowledge to bear on the encounter. Framed in this way, however, Verfremdung does not side-step such perceptual mechanisms: surprise and shock, uncertainty, attention – all themselves felt as striking or peculiar experiences – are built into a perceptual apparatus that is efficient, but also, at need, flexible and adaptable.
  • ItemControlled Access
    Creating Liberal Germany From Empire to Exile: The Fischer Circle
    Tiessen, Margarete
    The thesis focusses on the history and political thought of the Fischer circle, a group of journalists, theorists, and writers associated with the Berlin publishing house S. Fischer and its monthly review journal, Die Neue Rundschau. In their opposition to the German Empire’s government; as the intellectual architects of the Weimar Republic; as publishers of exiled German writers in Sweden and the US; or as the Allies’ partners in building up a new Germany after 1945 these intellectuals were among the leading representatives of Germany’s liberal democratic left – ideologically rooted in so-called ‘classical liberal thought’ on the one hand, Kantian transcendental rationalism and German Idealist and Romanticist philosophies on the other. The thesis reconstructs how the Fischer circle adapted and reinstated these ideological roots in the context of the political upheavals that Germany experienced in the first half of the twentieth century, for instance by constructing a model of cohesive, organic democratic representation towards the end of the First World War or by reinstating the Romanticist utopia of European unity in the context of the governmental crisis of 1923/24. One crucial result of this analysis has been how continuously the philosophical trajectories of ‘German’ freedom – reinvigorated by nineteenth-century Lebensphilosophie – served as central imaginative and normative resources for the political. The case of the Fischer circle indeed exemplifies that the political thought of the liberal democratic left continued to depend deeply on such ‘spiritual’ resources. Studying these intellectuals thus helps elucidating not only the long-term history of the idea of liberal democracy in Germany, but likewise the diversity of the political left. In bringing together archival sources and published theoretical or essayistic texts, the thesis seeks to sensitise for the intimate interdependence of life, politics, and thought. At the same time, it brings to the fore the materiality of ideas and of modern political thought, meaning their financial and organisational dependence on patrons and distributors such as, in the case of the Fischer circle, Samuel Fischer, Kurt Wolff, Gottfried and Brigitte Bermann-Fischer, or Peter Suhrkamp.
  • ItemEmbargo
    Schopenhauer's Buddhism: A Historical-Philosophical Inquiry
    Langone, Laura
    My thesis is about Schopenhauer’s conception of Buddhism and the impact of Buddhism on his thought. It closely considers the Buddhist texts Schopenhauer read, with the aim of showing that Schopenhauer adopted a particular reading of Buddhism and that this reading partly influenced his philosophy, in particular his metaphysics. The main contention of the thesis is that from 1844 onwards Schopenhauer incorporated the Buddhist concept of palingenesis into his system, which generated several contradictions in his late works such as the second (1844) and the third edition (1859) of The World as Will and Representation, and Parerga and Paralipomena (1851), including their posthumous versions. I agree with the majority of scholars that Schopenhauer’s system remained a single thought throughout his works. However, I argue that these contradictions indicate the possibility of the emergence of a small system within Schopenhauer’s main system as elaborated in the first edition of The World as Will and Representation, published in 1818. This small system seems to jeopardise the main foundations of Schopenhauer’s prevailing system: its monism, idealism, pessimism, and its ethics of compassion. My dissertation chronologically analyses Schopenhauer’s works as well as his readings on Buddhism. It consists of an introduction, three chapters, and a conclusion. In the introduction, I provide an overview of Schopenhauer’s engagement with Buddhism and of the main arguments of the thesis. In the first chapter, Schopenhauer’s Philosophy and Readings on Buddhism until 1818, I examine the main principles of Schopenhauer’s system in the first edition of The World as Will and Representation and of his readings on Buddhism, offering also a tour d’horizon of the history of Oriental studies from the seventeenth to the nineteenth century. In the second chapter, Schopenhauer’s Philosophy and Readings on Buddhism until 1844, addressing both Schopenhauer’s works and his readings on Buddhism from 1825 until 1844, I especially focus on Schopenhauer’s notion of the Buddhist palingenesis as it emerges from the second edition of The World as Will and Representation. In the third and final chapter, Schopenhauer’s Philosophy and Readings on Buddhism from 1850 Onwards, after having examined Schopenhauer’s Buddhist sources of the period, I show the possible implications of Schopenhauer’s incorporation of the Buddhist palingenesis for the understanding of his philosophy. In the conclusion, I summarise my findings and consider their import for nineteenth-century Western philosophy.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Ideologies, Histories, and Representations of Work and Labour in Contemporary German-Language Literature: Forced Labour, Sex Work, and State Socialist Labour Ideologies
    Courtman, Nicholas Robin
    My dissertation is concerned with the ways in which German-language authors writing between the last third of the twentieth century and now engage with histories, ideologies, and forms of work and labour that exist outside of the realm of conventional wage labour. My specific areas of focus are literary engagements with the forced labour regimes of mid-twentieth century Europe, the phenomenon of sex work and prostitution, and the ideologies of labour developed and elaborated under state socialism. On the one hand, these topics are of particular importance when considering the cultural memory of work in an de-industrialised age as it relates to issues such as the ambivalent ideological inheritance of Marxist conceptualisations of labour whose original emancipatory potential seems marred by the legacy of state socialism. These topics simultaneously provide an in-route into the exploration of philosophical, social, and political considerations on work, such as the labour activity’s status as simultaneous locus of both self- actualisation and domination, or the imbrication of sex and work alongside the persistent gendered division of labour in patraiarchal society. Focusing on the works of Elfriede Jelinek, Volker Braun, and Herta Müller, with additional readings of works by Heiner Müller and Ruth Klüger, I explore how these authors use literature as a medium for the critical questioning and examination of how work and workers have been ideologically and practically exploited, instrumentalised, and treated in the twentieth and twenty-first century. My three main authors all came to write within societies or intellectual milieus that were dominated by Marxist thought of one kind or another. All three also identify as emphatically political authors, who deploy linguistic and literary experimentation as part of their political project. In my introduction, I recapitulate the Hegelian and Marxian conceptualisations of labour and its individual and socio-theoretical significance that formed this intellectual tradition, and examine Brecht’s equally influential writings on the relation between ordinary production, aesthetic production, and politically engaged literature. The rest of my thesis is divided into three sections. The first of these examines Volker Braun’s critical engagement with the state socialist veneration of labour and the aesthetic doctrine of socialist realism, examining both his pre- and post-Wende texts. Braun’s writing provides the path into the next section on forced labour, which begins with an analysis of Braun’s writing as critique of specific East German historiographical narratives surrounding the Nazi forced labour system, before reading Ruth Klüger’s weiter leben in relation to West German discourses on the same topic. Beginning from Ruth Klüger and Herta Müller’s commentaries upon each other’s writings, I then develop a reading of Herta Müller’s Atemschaukel as an immanent critique of the theory of reform through labour that underpinned the Soviet gulag system. I then move with Herta Müller and Volker Braun into the third section by analysing the imbrications of sex and work in several of Braun’s works and in Müller’s Der Mensch ist ein großer Fasan auf der Welt, using these texts as a way of surveying various second-wave feminist positions on sex work. This then leads into a reconstruction of Elfriede Jelinek’s changing positions on sex work and prostitution from her 1975 novel Die Liebhaberinnen through to a series of plays that she wrote on the topic after 2000, examining how her political and theoretical commitments change over this period and how these changes relate to transformations in Jelinek’s own literary working methods. In my conclusion, I re-examine the central insights gleaned from the readings performed in the three sections, before suggesting how these findings can be built upon when using other writers’ works as resources for a critical examination and questioning of work’s past and present.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Walking backwards in high heels: narratives of women’s (non)representation in corporate leadership in the UK and Germany
    (2021-03-27) Baumann, Heide
    This thesis compares contemporary discourses on women and corporate leadership in Germany and the UK, examining scholarly and popular accounts. It identifies and interrogates five culturally hegemonic stories that circulate in business, academia and the public sphere: first, the story that men and women are “naturally” different and biologically suited for different destinies; second, the story that success wears high heels as (heterosexual) women can use erotic capital to get ahead; third, the story that there is a business case for gender parity because women are more effective leaders; fourth, the story that there is nothing or little left to fight for because the battle for gender equality has already been won, and finally, the story that women‘s advancement is a matter of personal choice and the only barriers to it are women themselves. These stories – codified as common sense and magnified through popular retellings by public intellectuals, journalists, and elite corporate leaders in both countries – claim to rest on science, empirical data, and theoretical proofs. Yet they are animated by a range of contradictions and rely on contested evidence and methods. My study shows that each story has a counternarrative developed by scholars from diverse disciplines and feminist critics who challenge the assertions and assumptions of the hegemonic stories. Both sets of narrators accuse each other of having ideological motives and getting their facts wrong. Counter-hegemonic narratives are inevitably less visible in the mainstream. Socialised in the context of the dominant stories, senior professional women in the UK and Germany embrace ideas of natural difference and the impossible contemporary demand that they combine all-consuming work with perfect motherhood. I interrogate how and why successful women are collaborating in paradoxical narratives: apparently agreeing, in Sheryl Sandberg’s internationally influential words, to “lean in” while also (in a paradoxical metaphorical feat) crossing “a minefield backwards in high heels”. The analysis reveals that, while some rhetorical moves and manifestations differ in Germany and the UK, there is a range of strikingly similar attitudes and outcomes. Over the past decade both countries have seen an acceleration in interest, publications, and policy interventions; the debate about women’s leadership and economic participation remains live. My study, which is the first to compare narratives of women’s leadership from the UK and Germany, contributes to the scholarly debate by isolating and analysing five key transnational narratives and providing a systematic analysis of dominant narratives of women’s leadership as they are contextualised by primarily scholarly counter-narratives.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Improvising Goethe’s Faust Part One in two Berlin high school theatre classes for cross-cultural dialogue among Turkish-German students
    (2021-10-21) Khan, Maria
    By taking a prototypical German text i.e. Goethe’s Faust Part One to two high-school theatre-classes in Berlin, I explored how Turkish-German students engage performatively with the idea of German identity. Through an improvisational treatment of the play, students performed activities based on the text which revealed their cultural identity. Emerging themes of the research show cross-cultural exchanges of students on issues of religion, politics, the role of family, socio-economic status, sexuality and Leitkultur. This is an interdisciplinary study and the findings of the research contribute to approaches within the field of post-migrant theatre in Germany and debates on Turkish-German cultural integration. The project showed that issues related to Turkish-German cultural integration must be understood emotionally and psychologically. The results of the study showed that over and above everything, lack of compassion and open-heartedness featured strongly as a prototypical German characteristic. Regardless of progressive and conservative values, in all performances, a German person was identified as Faust, someone cold-hearted and lacking warmth. My students also reflected on the character of Gretchen and found similarities with her dilemmas and those of women in Turkish-German households. Hence, what emerged from the performances were self-reflective and honest dialogues on how Turkish-German students relate to German culture at large. Instead of addressing the issues of cultural integration from a lens of identity politics, migration policy makers need to consider and focus on emotional differences between the two communities. Theatre in diverse classrooms can provide embodied engagements with individuals, whose voices need to be heard loud and clear on how they perceive the ‘other’.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Sensing-through Architectural Scenographies: Tactility, Language and Natural History in the Work of Walter Benjamin
    Messing Marcus, Anat
    In its consideration of the work of the senses, notions of truth and language and political aesthetics in Walter Benjamin’s epistemology of images, this thesis takes as its touch-stone Benjamin’s somewhat overlooked meditations on the sensorial faculty of tactility (“das Taktische”). According to the first version of the “Work of Art” essay, along with the distinctive structures of perception of the new modes of reproduction, film and photography, architecture is the artistic domain which tactility most intimately inhabits, in which it is at home, “more originally”. The nexus between tactility, through figures of touch, and affect as the absence of intentionality informs the Benjaminian settings of “natural history”. These are scenographic sites permeated with “creaturely life” and perceived by way of melancholy and lament, as explicated in the early work The Origin of the German Baroque Trauerspiel. In this constellation, the sensual realm, mediated through the allegorical mode and the more non-intentional dimensions of signification, bears deepest affinity to the linguistic grounds of philosophical representation in Benjamin’s terms. The thesis develops this argument in a set of interlinked moves and theoretical directions, organised in three parts. Firstly, Benjamin’s conceptualisation of architecture “as more than origin” is subjected to encounter with Hegel’s account of architecture as symbolic art. In as much as tactility is indeed more originally “in der Architektur zuhause”, this formulation also provides an intimation of the “Unzuhause”, leading to Freud’s interrelated theories of the uncanny and the articulation of the death drive, beyond the pleasure principle. Secondly, a reconstruction of Theodor W. Adorno’s arguments set out in “The Idea of Natural History” exposes the juncture between Benjamin’s and Martin Heidegger’s approaches to the “secularisation of history” and the politico-theological dimension of historicity. The spectral character of spatiality in works by Kafka and Rilke, as mediated through the philosophical writings of these thinkers, proves significant for the scenographic thinking of this polemic on the essence of historical time. The third move explores auditory and tactile motifs at the border of language as they outline both Benjamin’s essay on translation and his autobiographical writing in Berliner Kindheit. The core premise underlying these different moves is that sensorial experience “in tactility” bears on what this thesis takes as a persistent architectonic figure reverberating through Benjamin’s work: the towering, ruinous logic of Babel.
  • ItemControlled Access
    After the Postdramatic? Elfriede Jelinek, Kathrin Röggla and the Possibility of Political Subjects
    Zirden, Isabelle Julie
    After the Postdramatic? Elfriede Jelinek, Kathrin Röggla, and the Possibility of Political Subjects My dissertation is concerned with the aesthetics of political theatre in post Millennium theatre texts by the Austrian authors Kathrin Röggla and Elfriede Jelinek. Both authors conceive theatre as political medium („politisches Medium“, Jelinek) with which they aim to have an effect (Röggla). My project examines how the authors engage the aesthetic possibilities offered by theatre – or, more precisely, by both dramatic and postdramatic forms – for political ends. Based on an analysis of the authors’ poetological reflections on theatre and the political, my thesis reads their plays as pursuing an underlying conception of political theatre as relational event, in accordance with the understanding of political relationality developed first by Hannah Arendt, and later slightly criticised and modified by Judith Butler. I show that these philosophers’ thought provides a productive lens for the analysis of Jelinek’s and Röggla’s understandings of the political. Arguing that both authors are drawing upon the postdramatic, but also go beyond postdramatic form variations, I maintain that while both Jelinek’s and Röggla’s plays can partly be placed, on a formal level, within the spectrum of the postdramatic, they also unmistakeably perform a (re)turn to dramatic forms. The text corpus examined comprises three plays of each author: Röggla's fake reports (2002), draußen tobt die dunkelziffer (2005) and die unvermeidlichen (2011), and Jelinek’s Nach Nora (2013), Wut (2016) and Am Königsweg (2017). I begin in Chapter 1 by assessing Röggla and Jelinek’s conception of theatre and/as politics through an analysis of their poetological texts and essays, situating their thinking within the intellectual historical context of the works of Arendt and Butler. Following this, I move on to the analysis of their writings for the theatre, structuring my work around four central theatrical categories: Space (Chapter 2), Time (Chapter 3), Speech (Chapter 4) and Body (Chapter 5). In the course of my analysis, I show that these categories are not only of central importance for theatrical and dramatic phenomena – such as text and performance and their interrelation, or the negotiation of dramatic and postdramatic forms – but are also key in understanding the conditions of possibility of political visibility and political action. My analysis shows that both authors present a de-politicised society that, due to the loss of political subjectivity and the impossibility of creating relational spaces for common action, is incapable of plural political action. The theatre texts deploy an aesthetic counterstrategy, insofar as the authors’ texts – written and intended for an eventual performance – create a momentary political subjectivity in which relationality and thus the possibility of political action appear.
  • ItemEmbargo
    Bildung, the Beautiful Soul, and the German Enlightenment Salon
    (2019-05-01) Kolata, Justine
    My dissertation explores two critical German philosophical concepts: Bildung (self-cultivation) and die schöne Seele (the Beautiful Soul) in the context of Berlin salon culture around 1800. It is the first systematic examination of the relationship between this philosophy and the institution of the salon. My principal goal is to demonstrate that during the period between the Ancien Régime and the Vormärz, the Berlin salons became the space in which this philosophy was performed and put into practice. Although I draw on the broader literature on this topic to elucidate this relationship, I focus on the theoretical formulations of the two most celebrated philosophers of the Beautiful Soul, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) and Friedrich Schiller (1759-1805), and how their ideas informed the activities of the two most widely recognized salons in post-revolutionary Berlin, those of Henriette Herz (1764-1847) and Rahel Varnhagen (1771-1833). My topic is significant for two related reasons: it lies at the intersection of aesthetic and moral philosophy which represents the core of the German philosophical tradition; and it explores the extent to which the tenets of this philosophy were vigorously debated and practiced in the salon, one of the most vibrant cultural institutions in Germany at the turn of the nineteenth century. No single treatise by the proponents of Bildung and die schöne Seele provides a comprehensive explanation of the theory. Since we lack a single, standardized text to analyze, I have chosen to construct a comprehensive account assembled from the fragments that identifies the commonalities amongst them, and, I believe, most accurately captures the ethos of the philosophy. Beyond examining the theory of Bildung and die schöne Seele, my contributions to the existing scholarship are threefold. First, by exploring the practical enactments of the Beautiful Soul and self-cultivation in the salon space, I will show that these concepts had far greater social and cultural significance than has been argued to date. Second, I articulate an aesthetic theory of the German salon that transforms the way we understand institutions for communication and deliberative democracy. Third, I demonstrate that there was a specific ideological underpinning to the activities of the Berlin salonnières. My dissertation reads the Berlin salons as projects of a radically political nature whose manifesto, as it were, was Bildung.
  • ItemIndefinitely restricted
    Spatial Sovereignties: Autonomous Subjectivity and Political Resistance in Hamburg’s Rote Flora,1989-2017
    (2019-07-20) Jones, Allison
    This thesis examines the history and praxis of the left-radical Autonomous movement in West Germany, particularly in the case study of Hamburg’s Rote Flora: the symbolic centre of the European Autonomous ideology. Autonomie emerged in Germany after the ‘red decade’ of escalating terrorist violence from 1967 to 1977, which culminated in hijackings, murders, and kidnappings during the 1977 ‘German Autumn’. The consequences of this period set the stage for the 1978 Tunix Congress, where up to 20,000 activists gathered in West Berlin to re-think the nature and purpose of political protest. Left-radical practice thereafter rejected the use of terrorist violence, and effectively refused organised Leninist Marxism, teleological revolutionary politics, and solidarity with syndicalist organisations, all of which had been defining cornerstones of the transnational left until that point. During the following decades, left-radical practice instead focused upon the self-formation of political subjectivities, concerns with city space and gentrification, and embodied symbolic violence, all of which became the cornerstones of the Autonomous movement. The thesis is divided into two parts: the first examines the genealogy of Autonomous subjectivity after 1977. It presents the Senate’s city restructuring plans for the Schanzenviertel neighbourhood during the 1980s, against which Autonomists protested, ultimately occupying the building in 1989. The thesis portrays the occupation using 32 participant oral histories, and analyses State and Autonomous perspectives on language, contract negotiations, state pacification strategies, and the consequent breakdown of communication in the 1990s. Theoretically it builds on Hegel’s dialectical model of authority and subversion, as well as Lefebvre’s three levels of space, to present the ultimate failure of any synthesis between the two sides. The second part of the thesis analyses the embodied forms of corporeal praxis and hedonism that developed from this heritage. The Flora group is particularly notable for engaging in a moralised form of militancy, or ‘Militanz’, which they justify by identifying as ‘Anti-Subjects’ expunged of societal ‘contaminants’ such as racism, sexism or capitalism. Gender, sexism, and the body were increasingly important concerns for the movement after 1995, and are tied to the discussion and application of political violence. To better explain the Autonomous worldview, the thesis develops a political theory of ‘spatial sovereignty’ in the Autonomous movement. It presents a genealogy of squatted spaces as alternate sites of political citizenship in a reconceptualised public sphere, and develops the concept of ‘excess spaces’ by building on Agamben’s (1998) notion of the ‘excess flesh’ of the homo sacer being stripped of citizenship and banished into a State of Exception. However, it inverts Agamben so as to instead analyse subjects, possessing full agency, who nonetheless intentionally establish their own ‘states of exception’ within society. The thesis theorises that within radical left-wing movements, these squatted ‘excess spaces’ foster new ‘spatial sovereignties’, wherein the political body, grounded in a squatted space, becomes the site of alternative and even resistant ‘biopolitical administration’ via practices of conscious self-formation and purification against state influences. The thesis concludes by applying these theories to the violent riot during the 2017 G20 Summit. It inquires whether, as the subject claiming the moral authority to determine the application of violence in a state of exception, the Flora has not come to assume the role of the sovereign within the decades-long unresolvable dialectic of authority and rebellion in Hamburg.
  • ItemOpen Access
    The Assignment of Grammatical Gender in German: Testing Optimal Gender Assignment Theory
    (2019-05-18) Corteen, Emma
    The assignment of grammatical gender in German is a notoriously problematic phenomenon due to the apparent opacity of the gender assignment system (e.g. Comrie 1999: 461). Various models of German gender assignment have been proposed (e.g. Spitz 1965, Köpcke 1982, Corbett 1991, Wegener 1995), but none of these is able to account for all of the German data. This thesis investigates a relatively under-explored, recent approach to German gender assignment in the form of Optimal Gender Assignment Theory (OGAT), proposed by Rice (2006). Using the framework of Optimality Theory, OGAT claims that the form and meaning of a noun are of equal importance with respect to its gender. This is formally represented by the crucial equal ranking of all gender assignment constraints in a block of gender features, which is in turn ranked above a default markedness hierarchy *NEUTER » *FEMININE » *MASCULINE, which is based on category size. A key weakness of OGAT is that it does not specify what constitutes a valid gender features constraint. This means that, in theory, any constraint can be proposed ad hoc to ensure that an OGAT analysis yields the correct result. In order to prevent any constraints based on ‘postfactum rationalisations’ (Comrie 1999: 461) from being included in the investigation, the gender features constraints which have been proposed in the literature for German are assessed according to six criteria suggested by Enger (2009), which seek to determine whether there is independent evidence for a gender features constraint. Using an independently-verified constraint set, OGAT is then tested on a sample of 592 nouns systematically selected from the Duden Rechtschreibung. The results indicate that OGAT is relatively successful in its predictions when compared to other approaches but that it cannot account fully for the sample data. Accordingly, a revised version of the theory is proposed (OGAT II), which involves the ranking of certain gender features constraints. It is found that OGAT II is able to account for the genders of around 95% of nouns in the sample. A number of specific aspects of OGAT II are then tested by means of an experiment in which native German speakers are required to assign genders to 26 pseudo-nouns. The results suggest that OGAT II comes the closest of the systems discussed in the literature to modelling how native speakers assign gender in German.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Anticipatory Realism: Constructions of Futures and Regimes of Prediction in Contemporary Post-cinematic Art
    (2019-02-23) Dernbach, Rafael Karl
    This thesis examines strategies of anticipation in contemporary post-cinematic art. In the Introduction and the first chapter, I make the case for anticipation as a cultural technique for the construction of and adjustment to future scenarios. This framing allows analysis of constructions of futures as culturally and media-historically specific operations. Via anticipation, constructions of futures become addressable as embedded in specific performative and material economies: as regimes of prediction. The hypothesis is that cultural techniques of anticipation do not only serve to construct particular future scenarios, but also futurity, the very condition for the construction of futures. Drawing upon the philosophical works of, in particular, Vilem Flusser, Jacques Derrida and Elena Esposito, and the theory of cultural techniques, I conceptualize anticipation through the analysis of post-cinematic strategies. I argue that post-cinematic art is particularly apt for the conceptualization of anticipation. The self-reflexive multi-media interventions of post-cinematic art can expose the realisms that govern regimes of prediction. Three cultural techniques of anticipation and their use as artistic strategies in post-cinematic art are theorized: enactment, soft montage and rendering. Each of these techniques is examined in its construction of futures through performative and material operations in art gallery spaces. The second chapter examines strategies of enactment in post-cinematic installations by Neïl Beloufa. My readings of Kempinski (2007), The Analyst, the Researcher, the Screenwriter, the CGI tech and the Lawyer (2011), World Domination (2012) and Data for Desire (2014) propose that enactment allows for an engagement with futures beyond extrapolation. With Karen Barad’s theory of agential realism, the construction of futures becomes graspable as a political process in opposition to a mere prolonging of the present into the future. The third chapter focuses on the strategy of soft montage in works by Harun Farocki. I interpret Farocki’s application of soft montage in the exhibition Serious Games I-IV (2009-2010) as a critical engagement with anticipatory forms of organizing power and distributing precarity. His work series Parallel I-IV (2012-2014) is then analyzed as a speculation on the future of image production technologies and their role in constructing futures. The final chapter analyses the self-referential use of computer-generated renderings in works by Hito Steyerl. The installations How Not To Be Seen (2013), Liquidity Inc. (2014), The Tower (2015) and ExtraSpaceCraft (2016) are read as interventions in the performative economies of contemporary image production. I argue that these works allow us to grasp the reality-producing and futurity-producing effects of rendering as anticipatory cultural technique. My thesis aims to contribute to the discussions on a ‘turn towards the future’ in contemporary philosophy and cultural criticism. My research thus focuses on the following set of questions. What can we learn about the operations of future construction through encounters with post-cinematic art? How are futures and future construction framed in such art? What realisms do future constructions rely on? And how can anticipation as a cultural technique be politicized and democratized?
  • ItemOpen Access
    'Sie rief mich aus der Nacht': The Birth Complex in Nietzsche and Wagner
    (2018-10-30) Lebiez, Judith
    This thesis addresses the role of the birth complex in Friedrich Nietzsche’s philosophy and in Richard Wagner’s operas. I see the birth complex as characterised by a dialectical relation between flesh and light, which is itself polarised by the tension between desire and anxiety. A structural determinant of the human relation to the world, this complex in my argument is of special importance for understanding the roles given to and assumed by women. Wagner gave the birth complex its first comprehensive elaboration through his operas. This, I contend, is the aspect of Wagner’s work that Nietzsche in his writings particularly reacted to through the ambivalent fascination it awakened in him. I argue that, even after Nietzsche’s break from Wagner, the birth complex remains central in his philosophy. The primary reference I build on here is Otto Rank’s theory of birth trauma, as set out in Das Trauma der Geburt (1924). To me, Rank’s theorisation of the trauma of birth is a translation into psychoanalytic language of Nietzsche’s philosophy, which itself arose with a translation into philosophical language of Wagner’s operas. In this thesis I build especially on Rank’s formulation of the tension between desire and anxiety and on his suggestions concerning the causes of the undoing of women. However, Rank did not take into account what I contend is a key aspect of both Nietzsche’s and Wagner’s work: the role of light in its dialectical relation with the flesh. By flesh I mean the interiority of the mother’s body and, by extension, the human body insofar as it is conceived through its relation to the maternal body. In the first main section of my PhD, I propose a theoretical understanding of the birth complex through an analysis of Nietzsche’s philosophy. I start with his writings pro and contra Wagner, showing that what Nietzsche primarily sees in Wagner’s operas is the birth complex. I then go on to argue that Nietzsche’s philosophy of life and of creativity is an exploration of the ways in which birth could be overcome. The second main section of my PhD is dedicated to Wagner, with largely text-based readings of three operas. I first discuss the extent to which death in Der fliegende Holländer and in the Freudian conception of the death drive is a mask for birth. I then tackle Tristan und Isolde and its famous celebration of night and death, in order to investigate whether love can be reduced to the birth complex. The last chapter of this section presents a close analysis of Das Rheingold and especially of its first scene and of Wagner’s indications on lighting. In a third and shorter section, I show that Hugo von Hofmannsthal’s and Richard Strauss’s Elektra pursued and reviewed this fundamental preoccupation of Nietzsche’s and Wagner’s work in proposing a further formulation of the birth complex that incorporates the scene of matricide. Finally, as a coda to the thesis, I explore the extent to which the uses of stage lighting pioneered by Adolphe Appia have been coming to terms with the birth complex.