Vertragsformen des modernen Subjekts. Masochistische Konfigurationen bei Heinrich von Kleist, Gottfried Keller und Robert Walser
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Pister, Daniel David
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CitationPister, Daniel David. 2021. Vertragsformen des modernen Subjekts. Masochistische Konfigurationen bei Heinrich von Kleist, Gottfried Keller und Robert Walser. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.
AbstractAround 1800, the contract becomes an important – if not the most important – category in
historical anthropology and epistemology. This dissertation begins to examine contracts around
that time as a semiotic-ethical configuration that has authority to manage the relationship between
subjects. Yet, influenced by representatives of the natural law (Hobbes, Spencer, Herder),
the contract also exerts influence on creating the modern subject itself, thereby making the contract
a matter of psychology and psychoanalysis. There, these contracts take on a psychodynamic
shape, that the late 19th century labels as ‘masochism’ and banishes into the realm of perversion.
This dissertation untangles this grave misunderstanding and shows that masochism is, instead, an
aesthetic-formal configuration that has shaped literature, culture, and the modern subject alike.
In detailed and intensive close readings of three different authors and various genres over
the course of the long 19th century, the dissertation reconstructs the vast extent to which the images,
scenes, and narratives of masochistic contracts influence our understanding of the modern
subject. Heinrich von Kleist’s dramas stage masochistic contracts as motivating configurations
for the dramatis personae. Gottfried Keller’s novellas contextualize masochistic contracts as instances
of (unreliable) narration. In Robert Walser’s fictional and auto-fictional texts, the poetic
aspects of masochism are put at the center of the readings.
Citable link to this pagehttps://nrs.harvard.edu/URN-3:HUL.INSTREPOS:37370111
- FAS Theses and Dissertations