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Monatshefte

Volume 105, Number 3, Fall 2013 Table of Contents

Special Issue: Observation in Science and Literature
Guest Editors: Rüdiger Campe, Jocelyn Holland, and Elisabeth Strowick

Articles

Rüdiger Campe, Jocelyn Holland, and Elisabeth Strowick
Preface

Christiane Frey
The Art of Observing the Small: On the Borders of the subvisibilia (from Hooke to Brockes)
Abstract:
The invention of the microscope and its adoption into widespread use from the mid-seventeenth century on affected the way natural philosophers and writers thought about observation. But instead of retracing the microscope’s enhancement of the visible, this essay explores how, under the impact of the microscope, the relationship between knowledge and the visible is repeatedly renegotiated and displaced in natural philosophy and poetry. Robert Hooke’s ethos of observation limits knowledge to the realm of the visible; Leibniz reintroduces the invisible into knowledge while setting new limits between human and divine knowledge; Brockes develops new figures of limitlessness. These and other examples show how the look through the microscope could lead to divergent and even contradictory epistemic consequences. (CF)

 

Gabriel Trop
Poetry and Morphology: Goethe’s “Parabase” and the Intensification of the Morphological Gaze
Abstract:
In his scientific writings, Goethe accords to that which is non-observable yet everywhere evident in the visible world a significant ontological status. Influenced by Schelling’s Naturphilosophie, Goethe’s morphology seeks to uncover patterns of natural organization while considering its own empirical and discursive activity to be a product of these very patterns. When Goethe turns the scientific gaze onto itself, he discovers that non-observability is constitutive of morphological observation. In his notebooks, the meta-observation of the morphological gaze is often represented poetically. As one may see from an analysis of the poem “Parabase,” literary representations become morphological objects just as morphology itself becomes coextensive with the creativity of the poetic subject. The morphological gaze functions poetically inasmuch as it posits a system that, although it ostensibly seeks a “primordial phenomenon,” holds open a space in which the totality of phenomenality itself remains obscured, leading to ever more differentiated acts of observation. (GT)

 

Andrea Krauß
“Rahmenschau”: Scenes of Observation in E.T.A. Hoffmann’s Des Vetters Eckfenster
Abstract:
If “observation” can, at least since the seventeenth century, be understood as an experimental practice of perception that produces a specific form of methodically instructed attention, then this suggests certain affinities to literary framing methods as well. From an epistemological point of view it is notable that frames, in as far as they detail something particular and allow for its observation, both “show” this particular thing and through this showing present the “instances” of such showing at the same time. Within the mode of framing, representation observes itself in the process of representing. This essay investigates such a self-observation of representation with regard to E.T.A. Hoffmann’s late narrative, Des Vetters Eckfenster (1822). This narrative brings to light—through a confrontation with rationalist framing, physiognomic hermeneutics, and modern panorama—a discontinuous constellation of orders of visuality, and it investigates their conditions. The embedded interplay of optical perception, language and writing produces a media-interference that does two things: it stages as belated construction the realism of the modern panorama, grounded in the natural sciences, and at the same time it stages seeing as writing (or grammatology). (AK)

 

David Martyn
The Picturesque as Art of the Average: Stifter’s Statistical Poetics of Observation
Abstract:
Stifter’s poetics of the “gentle law,” the aesthetics of the picturesque, and statistical method are shown to be distinct but related manifestations of the nineteenth century’s new techniques of observing and representing the common. The discussion focuses on Stifter’s “Brigitta” and his preface to the Many-Colored Stones, theories of the picturesque by the Romantic landscape improvers William Gilpin and Uvedale Price, and the statistician Adolphe Quetelet’s application of statistical theory to the realm of literature and art. Common to all of these sources is the attempt to observe and figure the truth of a norm hidden beneath the more conspicuous surface turbulence of exceptional phenomena. (DM)

 

Tobias Wilke
At the Intersection of Nervous System and Soul. Observation and Its Limits in Late 19th-Century Psychological
Abstract:
The article discusses a problem of observation that arises in the wake of a psychological “turn” in late 19th-century German aesthetics. This problem results from a confluence of two factors: a) the new theoretical claim that any form of aesthetic experience is to be explained as the effect of physiological and psychological processes that need to be studied empirically; and b) the methodological crux that the “crossing point” of nervous system and soul—the link between the two levels of neuronal activity and conscious mental states—remains a blind spot that can be accessed neither by means of objective measurement nor through subjective introspection. Pursuing the ways in which scholars like Friedrich Theodor Vischer and Theodor Lipps address this observational gap, the article analyzes how “psychological aesthetics” comes to turn on increasingly self-reflexive strategies of linguistic figuration—strategies that serve to model psycho-physiological causality as a mechanism of metaphorical translation. (TW)

 

Arne Höcker
Brainless: Scientific Observation and Literary Writing in Gottfried Benn
Abstract:
An attentive follower of current scientific debates, the poet Gottfried Benn was highly influenced by modern scientific culture. In his poetological reflections, Benn often refers to scientific methods and concepts. The article sets out to follow the productive interplay between science and literature in Benn’s oeuvre. Instead of reducing Benn’s literature to its science-historical contents, however, the article attempts to show that it is the scientific method that guides Benn in his literary endeavors. (AH)

 

Edgar Landgraf
The Physiology of Observation in Nietzsche and Luhmann
Abstract:
The article examines Nietzsche’s adoption of Johannes Müller’s principle of specific nerve energies, which Nietzsche expands to encompass the relationship between nerve stimulus, mental image, and language. As a consequence, Nietzsche dispenses with the unity of the subject as primary observer, replacing it with a media theory of sorts; and he encounters a problem of recursion, as the findings about the physiological limits of observation need to be applied to these findings, too. Reflecting the philosophical consequences of nineteenthcentury neurophysiology, Nietzsche engages problems that are at the center of Niklas Luhmann’s epistemology. For Luhmann, the observer is no longer viewed as an entity (a subject, a mind, a transcendental I) located outside of what is being observed. Instead, drawing on twentieth-century neurophysiology, observation is formalized as a process of auto-observation where the operations of a particular system must be thought to constitute what is being observed. (EL)

 

Book Reviews

Arndt, Christiane und Silke Brodersen, Hrsg., Organismus und Gesellschaft. Der Körper in der deutschsprachigen Literatur des Realismus (1830–1930) (Vance Byrd)

Couturier-Heinrich, Clémence, Hrsg., Übersetzen bei Johann Gottfried Herder. Theorie und Praxis (Kaspar Renner)

Dietschy, Beat, Doris Zeilinger und Rainer Zimmermann, Hrsg., Bloch-Wörterbuch. Leitbegriffe der Philosophie Ernst Blochs (Klaus L. Berghahn)

Dischner, Gisela, “der ganze Schmutz zugleich und Glanz meiner Seele”. Die Briefe Heinrich von Kleists als Teil seines Werks (Tim Mehigan)

Fischer, Bernd and Tim Mehigan, eds., Heinrich von Kleist and Modernity (Hansjakob Werlen)

Freed, Mark M., Robert Musil and the NonModern (James C. Wagner)

Ghanbari, Nacim, Das Haus. Eine deutsche Literaturgeschichte 1850–1926 (Frederick Betz)

Gräf, Dennis, TATORT. Ein populäres Medium als kultureller Speicher (Jochen Vogt)

Herweg, Nikola, “nur ein land / mein sprachland”. Heimat erschreiben bei Elisabeth Augustin, Hilde Domin und Anna Maria Jokl (Kathrin Seidl)

Hill, Alexandra Merley, Playing House: Motherhood, Intimacy, and Domestic Spaces in Julia Franck’s Fiction (Monika Shafi)

Hillenbach, Anne-Kathrin, Literatur und Fotografie. Analysen eines intermedialen Verhältnisses (Kristopher Imbrigotta)

Jaeger, Stephan, Performative Geschichtsschreibung. Forster, Herder, Schiller, Archenholz und die Brüder Schlegel (Arnd Bohm)

Kopp, Kristin, Germany’s Wild East: Constructing Poland as Colonial Space (Karolina May-Chu)

Lach, Roman, Der maskierte Eros. Liebesbriefwechsel im realistischen Zeitalter (Philipp Böttcher)

Osterkamp, Ernst und Thorsten Valk, Hrsg., Imagination und Evidenz. Transformationen der Antike im ästhetischen Historismus (Jeff Morrison)

Piper, Andrew, Book Was There: Reading in Electronic Times (Petra McGillen)

Rovit, Rebecca, The Jewish Kulturbund Theatre Company in Nazi Berlin (Corina L. Petrescu)

Shafi, Monika, Housebound: Selfhood and Domestic Space in Contemporary German Fiction (Alexandra Merley Hill)

Stiewe, Barbara, Der “Dritte Humanismus”. Aspekte deutscher Griechenrezeption vom George-Kreis bis zum Nationalsozialismus (Thomas Amos)

Tintemann, Ute und Jürgen Trabant, Hrsg., Wilhelm von Humboldt: Universalität und Individualität (Ernest A. Menze)

van Dyke, James A., Franz Radziwill and the Contradictions of German Art History, 1919–45 (Rolf J. Goebel)

Visser, Anthonya, Körper und Intertextualität. Strategien des kulturellen Gedächtnisses in der Gegenwartsliteratur (Thyra E. Knapp)

Welke, Tina, Tatort Deutsche Einheit. Ostdeutsche Identitätsinszenierung im “Tatort” des MDR (Jochen Vogt)

Wu, Xiaoqiao, Komik, Pantomime und Spiel im kulturellen Kontext. Clemens Brentanos Lustspiel “Ponce de Leon” im Lichte chinesischer Theatertraditionen (Weijia Li)

Zerbst, Arne, Schelling und die bildende Kunst. Zum Verhältnis von kunstphilosophischem System und konkreter Werkkenntnis (Johannes Schmidt)