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Monatshefte

Volume 106, Number 3, Fall 2014 Table of Contents

Articles

David Pan
Language and Metaphysics in Johann Georg Hamann’s Aesthetica in Nuce and Philologische Einfälle und Zweifel
Abstract:
Because Hamann’s work maintains a focus on both theology and philology, recent interpretations have split into theological readings of Hamann’s work by John Milbank and John Betz on the one hand and post-structuralist approaches by Manfred Geier and Carol Jacobs on the other hand. While the theological approach has tried to argue for a Christological reading of Hamann’s ideas, the post-structuralist perspective has downplayed the theological implications altogether. This article argues that Hamann’s work in fact merges the theological with the philological in order to imagine a theory of culture that gives priority to language as an autonomous sign system while at the same time emphasizing the metaphysical implications of this priority. (DP)

 

Christian Thomas
Theodor Fontane: Biologism and Fiction
Abstract:
In his novels, Fontane treats mythical and scientistic biologisms, which informed the popular imagination of Wilhelminian Germany, as fictions based in culture. The assumption of the animal nature of man gave rise to determinist and materialist views. Fontane’s narrative depictions expose such biologisms as essentializing, reductionist fictions that unduly exclude cultural factors and turn a blind eye to human potentials and positive social tendencies. In refunctioning romantic myth, poeticizing science, and emphasizing sympathy/social instincts, Fontane, through narrative perspectivization, promotes counter-fictions that project a more positive image of nature and humanity, as well as a vision for science. (CT)

 

Joshua Rayman
Dialectics of Exile: Adorno, Mann, and the Culture Industry
Abstract:
The American exile of Theodor W. Adorno and Thomas Mann should be read not merely as biography, but also as a logical model for reconstituting dialectical thinking without reconciliation, static identities, or oppositions. In “The Culture Industry” and Negative Dialectics, Adorno sets forth merely negative models of failed dialectics that internally limit the reconciliatory aims of Hegelian dialectic without abandoning its fundamental categories of identity, difference, and opposition. However, in the letters between Adorno and Mann, we can see an aporetic struggle to replace the unifying, reconciliatory, and statically oppositional forms of dialectics with a radical dialectics, or aporetics, of exile. The significance of this dialectics of exile is constituted both by its production of an alternative logic cognizant of the historical power and limits of Marxist-Hegelian dialectic, and by how it sheds light on Adorno’s and Mann’s historical struggles for a non-identitarian way of articulating complex, evolving, non-identitarian worlds without pure identities and oppositions. (JR)

 

Ulrich Schönherr
Intermediale Grenzgänge: Technologie, Sprache und Musik in Georges Perecs Hörspiel Die Maschine
Abstract:
Georges Perec’s experimental German radio-play from 1968 is one of the most radical attempts to construct a literary text that is in close affinity to rhetorical and musical compositional techniques. Based upon Goethe’s poem “Wandrers Nachtlied II,” the text is both a linguistic and semantic analysis and a playful re-creation of the poem. Transmitted by radio, but staged as a preprogrammed computational simulation that replaces the alphabetic code with the algorithmic one of the computer, the play reconstructs the historical transition from symbolic through analog to digital media. Focusing on the materiality of language, Perec’s poetic de-composition and re-composition of Goethe’s original lead to numerous new variations that follow strict, predetermined rules. Even though Perec neither creates a musical work nor transposes a musical composition into literature, he nevertheless succeeds in producing a polyphonic, acoustic artwork that transcends the intermedial boundaries between the two distinct semiotic systems of music and language. (US; in German)

 

Astrid Oesmann
Sebald’s Melancholic Method: Writing as Ethical Memory in Austerlitz
Abstract:
Sebald’s ethics of remembrance coincides with his complex notion of history that includes cultural, economic, and natural history. This article shows that the narrative dynamic between the protagonist and his narrator creates a collective memory out of amnesia. Furthermore, Sebald’s unique style incorporates an ethics of memory that seeks to let the past take shape independently of subjective intentionality. This becomes clear through discussion of the secondary literature that Sebald consulted in his preparation of Austerlitz, including Halbwachs’ La mémoire collective and a small body of more recent memory research. Sebald often made marginal annotations to his personal copies of these works, some of which are cited. I use these annotations to inform my reading of the theoretical foundations of Sebald’s approach to the past, which are best understood in the context of Theodor W. Adorno’s concept of natural history, Freud’s thoughts on the death drive, and Sebald’s own criticism, especially his early works on the Austrian writer Adalbert Stifter. In Austerlitz the protagonist and the narrator undertake a collaborative form of remembrance to overcome the amnesia that the protagonist suffered as an individual and that the narrator inherited culturally. (AO)

 

Natalia Dudnik
Gendering ‘Bare Life’: Marlene Streeruwitz’s Novels Kreuzungen and Entfernung
Abstract:
The novels by the Austrian writer and public intellectual Marlene Streeruwitz—Kreuzungen (2008) and Entfernung (2006)—are both in tune with and imply criticism of the concepts of ‘bare life,’ the sovereign, and homo sacer examined by the Italian political philosopher Giorgio Agamben. This article explores the gender aspect of ‘bare life,’ which has been absent from Agamben’s work, through the prism of Streeruwitz’s novels that provide male and female views on ‘bare life’: while Kreuzungen is narrated from the perspective of an extremely rich middle-aged man, Entfernung features an aging woman in a situation of loss. I argue that the male and female characters—Max and Selma—have opposite visions of ‘bare life.’ The relationship to one’s own ‘bare life,’ as presented by Streeruwitz, is a political one and can be constructed in terms of ownership and repression, or cooperation and corporeality. The latter has the potential to dissolve sociocultural hierarchies such as the mind/body dualism and open new insights into political consciousness and agency. (ND)

 

Book Reviews

Andriopoulos, Stefan, Ghostly Apparitions: German Idealism, the Gothic Novel, and Optical Media (Michael D. Gordin)

Aurnhammer, Achim, Wolfgang Braungart, Stefan Breuer und Ute Oelmann, Hrsg., Stefan George und sein Kreis. Ein Handbuch (Thomas Amos)

Battiston, Régine und Margit Unser, Hrsg., Max Frisch. Sein Werk im Kontext der europäischen Literatur seiner Zeit (Richard R. Ruppel)

Biere, Florentine, Das andere Erzählen. Zur Poetik der Novelle 1800/1900 (Rainer Godel)

Brinker-Gabler, Gisela, Image in Outline: Reading Lou Andreas-Salomé (Muriel Cormican)

Cooke, Paul, ed., “The Lives of Others” and Contemporary German Film: A Companion (Mary-Elizabeth O’Brien)

Ernst, Ulrich, Oliver Ehlen und Susanne Gramatzki, Hrsg., Visuelle Poesie. Historische Dokumentation theoretischer Zeugnisse. Band 1: Von der Antike bis zum Barock (Peer Trilcke)

Fuechtner, Veronika and Mary Rhiel, eds., Imagining Germany Imagining Asia: Essays in Asian-German Studies (Weijia Li)

Gemünden, Gerd and Johannes von Moltke, eds., Culture in the Anteroom: The Legacies of Siegfried Kracauer (Marcus Bullock)

Gilgen, Peter, Lektüren der Erinnerung. Lessing, Kant, Hegel (Rolf J. Goebel)

Grimm, Gunter E., Friedrich Dürrenmatt (Sabine Gross)

Hansen, Miriam Bratu, Cinema and Experience: Siegfried Kracauer, Walter Benjamin, and Theodor W. Adorno (Marcus Bullock)

Jaskot, Paul B., The Nazi Perpetrator: Postwar German Art and the Politics of the Right (Pamela M. Potter)

Kleinpaß, Susanne, Theodor Fontane (Sabine Gross)

Kumar, Ravi, ed., Role of Translation in Nation Building (Peter Goßens)

Martin, Ariane und Isabelle Stauffer, Hrsg., Georg Büchner und das 19. Jahrhundert (Henri Poschmann)

Robertson, Ritchie, ed., Lessing and the German Enlightenment (Carl Niekerk)

Ryan, Judith, The Cambridge Introduction to German Poetry (Hannah Eldridge)

Scharpf, Cordelia, Luise Büchner. Eine evolutionäre Frauenrechtlerin des 19. Jahrhunderts (Jeffrey L. Sammons)

Schings, Hans-Jürgen, Revolutionsetüden. Schiller—Goethe—Kleist (Dirk Oschmann)

Schmiedt, Helmut, Friedrich Schiller (Sabine Gross)

Schmitt, Stephanie, Intermedialität bei Rolf Dieter Brinkmann. Konstruktionen von Gegenwart an den Schnittstellen von Text, Bild und Musik (Philipp Böttcher)

Schneider, Ulrike, Jean Améry und Fred Wander. Erinnerung und Poetologie in der deutsch-deutschen Nachkriegszeit (Yun-Young Choi)

Schuster, Matthias, Franz Kafkas Handschrift zum Schloss (Andreas Härter)

Steingröver, Reinhild, Last Features: East German Cinema’s Lost Generation (Stephen Brockmann)

Whittle, Ruth, Gender, Canon and Literary History. The Changing Place of Nineteenth-Century German Women Writers (1835–1918) (Helen G. Morris-Keitel)