Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures Graduate Theses

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    Ökologische Weltbilder in den Werken Adalbert Stifters - Einheitserfahrung und Herrschaftswille
    (2015-07-29) Sattelmayer, Eva; German; Pugh, David
    It is an undeniable fact that Adalbert Stifter paid detailed attention to his natural surroundings. Yet in the 1980s and 90s Stifter research focused on the author’s use of language: scholars endeavoured to emancipate the text from the intention of the author and to argue that a hermeneutic understanding of the text as a unity of meaning was impossible. More recently, scholars have pointed out the importance of Stifter’s ethical world-view, which insists on an equal treatment of all things. Following on from those arguments, this thesis conducts a reading of Stifter’s works from an ecological point of view and their implication for a good life in accordance with nature. Albert Schweitzer’s "Reverence for Life" and Arne Næss’ Deep Ecology are used as the ethical and philosophical framework. The four discussed works, "Der Hochwald" (1841/ 44), "Bergkristall" (1845/ 53), "Kalkstein" (1848/ 53) and "Der Nachsommer" (1857) show affinities and inconsistencies both between the different texts and within the individual texts themselves. Especially "Der Nachsommer" contradicts itself with its insistence that humans are only an "insertion" in the history of the earth on the one hand and its sympathy for the human desire for domination of the land on the other. Firstly, the thesis shows how the complexity of the ecological imagery in Stifter’s texts reflects the intricacy of a nineteenth-century perception of the world. The enthusiastic conquest of nature and the desire to reorder nature exists simultaneously with the scientific questioning of the subjective world-view. This questioning of a subjective perception of the world is secondly linked to the ecological imagery in Stifter’s work. His idiosyncratic language gives life to all things. This language, which I call an ecocentric narrative style, can be retraced in all his works, even in "Nachsommer". Consequently, the experience of the sublime is shifted into an ecological sublime. The perception of the immensity of nature and one’s own insignificance is not to be overcome by reason, but is instead a comforting realisation of one’s own relationship to and oneness with the entirety of the natural world.
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    The Evolving Role of Music in Theodor Storm's Novellas
    (2015-04-24) Ferguson, Marie-Therese; German; Arndt, Christiane
    The texts of Theodor Storm (1817-88) engage with the role of the artist and works of art in society during the latter half of the nineteenth century. While the role of painting and writing has already been analyzed in this regard, the function of music in Storm’s work has not been hitherto researched to any great degree. Musicians, however, feature prominently among the artists he portrays. They encounter various artistic and personal difficulties that this dissertation analyzes both through close readings and from a literary-historical perspective. The analysis focuses on three novellas entitled Ein stiller Musikant (1875), Zur “Wald- und Wasserfreude” (1879), and Es waren zwei Königskinder (1884), which illustrate the changing role of music in the lives of the protagonists. In order to show the development of economic and social changes that took place after the 1848 Revolution and during the Gründerzeit, the texts are analyzed in chronological order. This thematic study argues that the reflection on music can be interpreted as a specialized reflection on the topic of the artist in general, which, in itself, is a prominent theme in Romanticism. Taking into account how Romantic notions of life and art lost their appeal both during and as a result of the forces of industrialization, the study shows how music, first presented as a nurturing and comforting force in the Biedermeier era, becomes progressively less important, and, in the end, loses its appeal as artistic salvation. The novellas use music as a literary technique in order to comment on education, both musical and academic, with particular emphasis on girls’ education. In addition to transcending gender and social barriers, as well as establishing a continuity of sorts between the past and the present, music also serve as a psychological tool to suggest or express feelings or a state of mind. In the same vein, physical features and instruments are used in the characterization of the protagonists, while also reflecting ethnic stereotypes common to both literature and greater society at the time.
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    Between Heimat and Fremde: New Configurations of Happiness in Contemporary German Literature and Film
    (2013-06-04) Hügler, Rebecca Octavia; German; Scott, Jill
    This thesis investigates representations of happiness in recent German literature and film. The interpretations focus on how happiness is negotiated in the context of home and travel, of Heimat and Fremde, in order to understand happiness, not only insofar as it contributes to “the good life”, but also as an element that shapes public discourses. My readings of works of fiction take into account how notions of happiness have shifted since the turn of the millennium. One reason for this shift is the heightened interest in happiness research, one of the most thriving interdisciplinary research fields of the last decade, which includes disciplines such as psychology, neurosciences, political science, sociology and economics. The following texts and films are examined in this context: Sommerhaus, später (1998) and Nichts als Gespenster (2003) by Judith Hermann, Transfer Lounge (2003) by Gregor Hens, Die Habenichtse (2006) by Katharina Hacker, Head-On (German: Gegen die Wand, 2004) by Fatih Akın, When We Leave (German: Die Fremde, 2010) by Feo Aladağ, Der Blick hinab (2007) by Shirin Kumm, Unveiled (German: Fremde Haut, 2005) by Angelina Maccarone, Cherry Blossoms (German: Kirschblüten – Hanami, 2008) by Doris Dörrie and Zehn (2010) by Franka Potente. My theoretical framework is informed in part by Sara Ahmed’s 2010 influential study, The Promise of Happiness, which takes a critical view toward recent happiness research from a cultural studies perspective. My analysis is directed at the ways in which concepts of happiness are narrated, negotiated and challenged within the context of transnational stories, which are inscribed with the effects of “supermodernity” (Augé) in a globalized world. I show how these works subvert themes and motifs that are associated with happiness, such as home and Heimat and travel or migration into the West. Finally, my readings show how these works mediate and reflect public dialogues and traditional notions about what makes us happy or unhappy, and I demonstrate how new configurations of happiness arise from these narratives.
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    Wilhelm Busch: The Art of Letting Off Steam Through Symbolic Inversion
    (2013-04-19) Gladwell, Joan; German; Arndt, Christiane
    In the aftermath of the failed revolution of 1848, which had been sparked by demands for democracy and constitutional reform, Germany’s princes reluctantly introduced new freedoms regarding print and the right to assembly. However, reactionary forces in governments unwilling to cede power quickly repressed these freedoms, leading to tighter controls on public and private life. Consequently, dispirited citizens clutched at the old Biedermeier ways, withdrawing to an “ill-remembered social order of bygone days” (Shorter 169). It was against this backdrop that the illustrated works of Wilhelm Busch (1832–1908) appeared in the popular Bilderbogen (“picture broadsheets”) of the day, and later as stand-alone Bildergeschichten (“picture stories”), using satire and symbolic inversion to mock German society by skewering assorted political, social, and cultural sacred cows. The aim of my dissertation is as follows. I will start by examining Busch’s use of symbolic inversion as a way of implying a shift in power between figures of authority and the disgruntled “second-class” citizens of Biedermeier society: women and children. Next, I will examine how Busch’s animal characters, particularly apes with their close resemblance to mankind, mock human pretensions of biological superiority. Finally, I will show how objects meant to serve their human “masters” overpower them, even in their homes, suggesting that there was no refuge from the vagaries of a rapidly changing world. Key to my analysis will be an exploration of the mechanism of “inside out” and “upside down,” described by Mikhail Bakhtin with regards to the carnival scenes of Gargantua et Pantagruel, as a sanctioned and mocking way of questioning the power of the state and its institutions. Along the way, I will compare and contrast Busch’s picture stories with similar strips in the Fliegende Blätter, in order to prove how groundbreaking the author’s exposé of nineteenth-century German society truly was. As I explore the synergy between image and word, I will demonstrate how Busch’s use of symbolic inversion is slyly subversive, undermining established authority in the political, social, and cultural arenas, and providing a safety valve in the form of humour that transcends the boundaries of class, education, and gender.
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    Where the Body touches the Spirit: the Role of Imagination in Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s 'Emile: or On Education' and Christoph Martin Wieland’s 'Geschichte des Agathon'
    (2012-10-15) Speltz, Andrea; German; Scott, Jill; Pugh, David
    This dissertation offers a re-evaluation of the role of the imagination in Jean- Jacques Rousseau’s 'Emile: or On Education' (1762) and Christoph Martin Wieland’s 'Geschichte des Agathon' (1794). My central claim is that both novels develop a pedagogy of the imagination in order to overcome the dilemmas of Cartesian dualism, that is, to form a beautiful soul in whom sensuality and reason, the body and the spirit, coexist in harmony. I demonstrate that both texts highlight the important but potentially damaging role played by the imagination in the development of religious thought, moral sentiments, and sexuality. The texts suggest that while a malformed imagination results in materialism, egotism, libertinism, and despotism, a well-formed imagination provides the foundation for natural religion, cosmopolitan enthusiasm, sentimental love, and a just political constitution. Consequently, I argue that for Rousseau and Wieland, harnessing the power of the imagination becomes the key to reconciling human nature and civil society. In addition to elucidating the role of the imagination in 'Emile' and 'Agathon', this dissertation also contributes to an understanding of the intellectual affinities between Rousseau and Wieland more generally. In preparation for the comparative reading of 'Emile' and 'Agathon', I survey Wieland’s private and public responses to Rousseau and contend that although the two authors differ significantly in their narrative and philosophical approach, they nevertheless share similar moral and political ideals. Both authors acknowledge the ability of the imagination to drive a wedge between the individual’s natural inclinations and moral duties, causing fragmentation of the self and society in turn. Yet the imagination, the motor of cultural progress, is not only the source of man’s alienation, it is also the remedy for his dividedness. If properly harnessed, the imagination can cease to be the cause of human depravity and become the basis of peaceful human relations, both at the level of the individual and that of society as a whole. In conclusion, I propose that the role of the imagination in forming the beautiful soul has consequences for the collective, and that we can read the moral constitutions of Emile and Agathon as negotiating the possibilities of various political constitutions, including that of a democratic state.