University of Wisconsin Madison crest that links to main university site

Association of University Presses member logo that links to main AUPresses site




Read the Journal Online

Submission Guidelines

Editorial Board

Receive Email Updates

Advertise in Monatshefte



Current Issue TOC

Back Issues TOC

Monatshefte 2022 Subscription Rates
      print & online $271
      online only $233
      print & online $103
      online only $86

Non U.S. Postage (no postage charges for online-only subscriptions)

Airmail: add $40/yr.

Canadian Subscribers: add 5% GST.


Volume 108, Number 1, Spring 2016 Table of Contents


Jens Loescher
How to See Through Swammerdam’s Microscope
This article deals with the ‘paper work’ of the seventeenth-century microscopist Jan Swammerdam: drawing as part of experimental practice rather than mere documentation. In the “Biblia Naturae”-corpus of the Nachlass, Swammerdam’s raison d’recherche is the position he takes against the theory of spontaneous generation in larval transmutation. Drawing what he sees beneath the microscope Swammerdam adds certain elements to the image of the specimen in ‘layers.’ Nevertheless, this is not the old chestnut of a preponderance of theory overruling ‘realistic’ representation. Rather, microscopical observation must rely on experimental cognition as an intermediary between plain sensual input and ‘how to see.’ It turns out that this kind of experimental cognition depends crucially on the ‘paper work’ of the microscopist rather than on her skill handling the technical device. Surprisingly, this is equally true for later stages of microscopy, as this article demonstrates for the 20th-century neuroanatomists Ramòn y Cajal and James Papez. (JL)


Lena Heilmann
Literature and the Fear of a Suicide Epidemic after Fanny von Ickstatt’s Fatal Fall in 1785
On January 14, 1785, witnesses watched in horror as seventeen-year-old Fanny von Ickstatt tumbled off the Frauenkirche in Munich and fell to her gruesome death. Ickstatt’s sudden and highly visible suicide perplexed the public, captivated the attention of newspaper presses, and led to a short-lived media sensation, all of which exacerbated pre-existing fearful attitudes concerning suicide’s increased presence in texts. News of Ickstatt’s death dovetailed with a cultural anxiety about how printed descriptions of suicide might glamorize the act and contribute to a suicide epidemic. Narratives and reports of Ickstatt’s suicide offered a new moment in eighteenth-century Germany as authors, philosophers, and historians now re-considered the purported “suicide epidemic” along gendered lines. This article traces competing discourses pertaining to Ickstatt’s suicide in order to offer a broader understanding of the multi-faceted conversations regarding suicide and gender roles in eighteenth-century Germany. (LH)


Henrik S. Wilberg
Translation as Subversion: Ludwig Tieck’s Don Quixote and the Poetic Logic of Jena Romanticism
This article sets out from a hitherto overlooked connection between literature and philosophy in the Jena Romantic period. In Ludwig Tieck’s translation of Cervantes’ Don Quixote (1799) there is a direct interpolation of a major philosophical concept: the Spanish hazaña—describing the undertakings of the hero, meaning “heroic deed” or “exploit”—is translated as Tathandlung, the neologism Fichte had forged in the first Wissenschaftslehre (1794). This gives rise not to an abstract question of poetry’s relation to thought but a complex constellation of responses within the literary politics of Jena Romanticism, from the place of Fichte to the role of translation, as well as the theory of the novel, in which, in the quarrel over Don Quixote, the Romantic “transcendental poesy” becomes subverted. I show that Friedrich Schlegel responds with a strategy in which one of the professed collective and collaborative ideals of Romantic thought—symphilosophy—comes to exclude Tieck’s position, applying the framework of Plato’s Ion. The ironic position Schlegel claims can thus, I argue, be constructed as a response, in Platonic terms, to the un- or even antiphilosophical rhapsode—the ionic position—perceived in the poetic practice of Tieck. (HSW)


Ivan Boldyrev
Spekulative Poesie: Geheimnis und Geschichte in Hegels Eleusis
Hegel’s poem Eleusis (1796) implies a paradox in trying to combine a critique of language as inadequate for expressing the Absolute with a plea for keeping a secret. Dialectics suggests that the secret is the poem itself in its performance. I show that Eleusis envisions a certain view of history that entails a pessimistic relation to actuality and a utopian longing for the new community of those who keep secrecy. Unearthing the Christian inspiration that drives the development of the main ideas to be found in Eleusis helps to demonstrate that it is on this community enacted by the poem that the secret of the Eleusinian mysteries and, generally, the destiny of the Absolute, would further depend. In an intersubjective and thus truly dialectical way the poem should open itself towards interpretations that could ruin its initial message. This fragility remains a distinctive feature of Hegel’s speculative poetry and lends it the hope of remaining a ‘secret as secret.’ (IB; in German)


Thomas Rendall
Thomas Mann’s Dantesque Zauberberg
Of the many parallels to Dante in Zauberberg the most intriguing occur in its presentation of the hero’s love for Clawdia Chauchat. Castorp’s comically elaborate courtship resembles Dante’s courtly service to Beatrice, and the eventual broadening of his sentiments also resembles, in a more serious vein, the transformation of Dante’s love from eros to caritas. When Dante is finally reunited with Beatrice at the top of the mountain of Purgatory, she is accompanied by a mythological animal representing Christ, and when Clawdia after long absence returns to Hans, she also has a new lover explicitly associated with the Saviour. As Dante ultimately recognizes the spiritual nature of his love, so Hans agrees with Clawdia to be bound by a newly chaste affection in mutual service to Peeperkorn. Dante’s transformed love leads him to the presence of God, and whatever hope remains at the end of Zauberberg seems also to rest on the possibility of a love which can somehow go beyond the purely material and selfish. (TR)


Robert Craig
“Ist die Schwarze Köchin da? Jajaja. . .”: Mimesis and Günter Grass’s Die Blechtrommel
Die Blechtrommel (1959) has inspired widely divergent readings, not least in respect of the aesthetic grounds that the novel offered for the social hope in the wake of Auschwitz. This article re-visits it against the backdrop of Grass’s own recognition of the postwar author’s—personal and collective—sense of complicity; and in that connection it considers how Die Blechtrommel embodies the dialectic of hope and despair more broadly characteristic of Grass’s sense of postwar literary and political engagement. Its contention is that Theodor W. Adorno’s conception of “Mimesis,” as it is developed in Dialektik der Aufklärung (1944) and Ästhetische Theorie (1970), can provide a compelling account for Grass’s aesthetic and ethical achievement. The article examines the senses in which Oskar embodies the dynamic of Mimesis, staking as he does a subversive ethical claim for his notorious drumming and sing-shattering. It then turns to showing how Grass’s portrayal of the “bodily” reveals it as a meeting point of complicity, shame, and guilt—but also a faintly utopian site for a new social order. By thinking through these insights precisely with Mimesis in mind, we might begin to do justice to the elusive moment of hope in Grass’s work. (RC)


Book Reviews

Barnett, David, Brecht in Practice: Theatre, Theory and Performance (Ralf Remshardt)

Brandes, Peter, Leben die Bilder bald? Ästhetische Konzepte bildlicher Lebendigkeit in der Literatur des 18. und 19. Jahrhunderts (Rüdiger Singer)

Brittnacher, Hans Richard und Irmela von der Lühe, Hrsg., Enttäuschung und Engagement. Zur ästhetischen Radikalität Georg Büchners (Jeffrey L. Sammons)

Busch, Anna, Hitzig und Berlin. Zur Organisation von Literatur (1800–1840) (Roman Lach)

Eming, Jutta, Ann Marie Rasmussen, and Kathryn Starkey, eds., Visuality and Materiality in the Story of Tristan and Isolde (Salvatore Calomino)

Erdbrügger, Torsten und Stephan Krause, Hrsg., Leibesvisitationen. Der Körper als mediales Politikum in den (post)sozialistischen Kulturen und Literaturen (Sonja E. Klocke)

Fellner, Friederike, Kafkas Zeichnungen (Stephanie Schmitt)

Finch, Helen, Sebald’s Bachelors: Queer Resistance and the Unconforming Life (Mark McCulloh)

Finch, Helen and Lynn L. Wolff, eds., Witnessing, Memory, Poetics: H.G. Adler & W.G. Sebald (Mark McCulloh)

Fliedl, Konstanze, Bernhard Oberreither und Katharina Serles, Hrsg., Gemälderedereien. Zur literarischen Diskursivierung von Bildern (Thyra Knapp)

Haines, Brigid B. and Lyn L. Marven, eds., Herta Müller (Anca Luca Holden)

Heffernan, Valerie and Gillian Pye, eds., Transitions: Emerging Women Writers in German-language Literature (Alexandra Hill)

Horstkotte, Silke und Leonhard Herrmann, Hrsg., Poetiken der Gegenwart. Deutschsprachige Romane nach 2000 (Gillian Pye)

Huyssen, Andreas, Miniature Metropolis: Literature in an Age of Photography and Film (Justin Court)

Jost-Fritz, Jan Oliver, Geordnete Spontaneität. Lyrische Subjektivität bei Achim von Arnim (Joseph D. Rockelmann)

Käser, Rudolf und Beate Schappach, Hrsg., Krank geschrieben. Gesundheit und Krankheit im Diskursfeld von Literatur, Geschlecht und Medizin (Sonja E. Klocke)

O’Neill, Patrick, Transforming Kafka: Translation Effects (Marjorie E. Rhine)

Osborne, Dora, Traces of Trauma in W.G. Sebald and Christoph Ransmayr (Mark McCulloh)

Rohde, Carsten und Hansgeorg Schmidt-Bergmann, Hrsg., Die Unendlichkeit des Erzählens. Der Roman in der deutschsprachigen Gegenwartsliteratur seit 1989 (Christiane Steckenbiller)

Shen, Qinna and Martin Rosenstock, eds., Beyond Alterity: German Encounters with Modern East Asia (Mary Rhiel)

Siguan, Marisa, Schreiben an den Grenzen der Sprache. Studien zu Améry, Kertész, Semprún, Schalamow, Herta Müller und Aub (Klaus L. Berghahn)

von Graevenitz, Gerhart, Theodor Fontane: ängstliche Moderne. Über das Imaginäre (Frederick Betz)

Wagner-Egelhaaf, Martina, Hrsg., Auto(r)fiktion. Literarische Verfahren der Selbstkonstruktion (Katra Byram)