In this ambitious book, Kirk Wetters traces the genealogy of the demonic in German literature from its imbrications in Goethe to its varying legacies in the work of essential authors, both canonical and less well known, such as Gundolf, Spengler, Benjamin, Lukács, and Doderer. Wetters focuses especially on the philological and metaphorological resonances of the demonic from its core formations through its appropriations in the tumultuous twentieth century.
Propelled by equal parts theoretical and historical acumen, Wetters explores the ways in which the question of the demonic has been employed to multiple theoretical, literary, and historico-political ends. He thereby produces an intellectual history that will be consequential both to scholars of German literature and to comparatists.
In The Making of a Terrorist, Jeffrey Champlin examines key figures from three canonical texts from the German-language literature of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries: Goethe’s Gotz von Berlichingen, Schiller’s Die Rauber, and Kleist’s Michael Kohlhaas. Champlin situates these readings within a larger theoretical and historical context, exploring the mechanics, aesthetics, and poetics of terror while explicating the emergence of the terrorist personality in modernity. In engaging and accessible prose, Champlin explores the ethical dimensions of violence and interrogates an ethics of textual violence.
Strange, deformed, and piercingly beautiful, the child acrobat Mignon sprang onto the public stage in 1795. No child at all, but a figment of Goethe’s fiction, Mignon appeared and reappeared in countless forms and guises over the next century. The meaning of this compelling creature is at the center of Carolyn Steedman’s book, a brilliant account of how nineteenth-century notions of childhood, like those expressed in the figure of Mignon, gave birth to the modern idea of a self.During the nineteenth century, a change took place in the way people in Western societies understood themselves—the way they understood the self and how it came into being. Steedman tracks this development through changing attitudes about children and childhood as these appear in literature and law, medicine, science, and social history. Moving from the world of German fiction to that of child acrobats and “street arabs” in nineteenth-century Britain, from the theories of Freud to those of Foucault, she shows how the individual and personal history that a child embodied came to represent human “insideness.” Particularly important for understanding this change is the part that Freudian psychoanalysis played, between 1900 and 1920, in summarizing and reformulating the Victorian idea that the core of an individual’s psychic identity was his or her own lost past, or childhood.Using the perspectives of social and cultural history, and the history of psychology and physiology, Strange Dislocations traces a search for the self, for a past that is lost and gone, and the ways in which, over the last hundred years, the lost vision has come to assume the form of a child.
Better known as a poet and dramatist, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832) was also a learned philosopher and natural scientist. Astrida Orle Tantillo offers the first comprehensive analysis of his natural philosophy, which she contends is rooted in creativity.
Tantillo analyzes Goethe’s main scientific texts, including his work on physics, botany, comparative anatomy, and metereology. She critically examines his attempts to challenge the basic tenets of Newtonian and Cartesian science and to found a new natural philosophy. In individual chapters devoted to different key principles, she reveals how this natural philosophy—which questions rationalism, the quantitative approach to scientific inquiry, strict gender categories, and the possibility of scientific objectivity—illuminates Goethe’s standing as both a precursor and critic of modernity.
Tantillo does not presuppose prior knowledge of Goethe or science, and carefully avoids an overreliance on specialized jargon. This makes The Will to Create accessible to a wide audience, including philosophers, historians of science, and literary theorists, as well as general readers.
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