Verschachtelte Räume: Writing and Reading Environments in W. G. Sebald

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Verschachtelte Räume: Writing and Reading Environments in W. G. Sebald

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Title: Verschachtelte Räume: Writing and Reading Environments in W. G. Sebald
Author: Jones, Emily Erin
Citation: Jones, Emily Erin. 2012. Verschachtelte Räume: Writing and Reading Environments in W. G. Sebald. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University.
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Abstract: This dissertation focuses on the construction of the narrated environment in W. G. Sebald's Die Ausgewanderten, Die Ringe des Saturn, and Austerlitz. Drawing on a constellation of ecocritical theories, I examine the ways in which memory and history are embedded in images of the built environment and how, in turn, this spatialization of the past contributes to a criticism of traditional linear narration. Sebald's texts create postmodern textual environments, urban, domestic, faux-pastoral, and heterotopian, that unite disparate times and spaces, demonstrating the need for innovative narrative in untangling and portraying complex, sometimes contradictory layers of history. An examination of the labyrinth and garden in Die Ringe des Saturn and of urban spaces in Austerlitz demonstrates the potential of the environment to seize agency and exert force on the human subject in the environment. The domestic environment also contains this potential, but in Austerlitz, the protagonist reclaims agency and uses the domestic environment as a medium for recovering memory. Finally, drawing on theories from Michel Foucault and Marc Augé, I examine the effect heterotopian spaces have on the characters experiencing them in all three of Sebald’s major prose works. More importantly, I demonstrate the way in which Sebald exploits the heterotopian potential of the text itself, creating a textual “environment” that pushes back against the reader, reinforcing the meaning of its content, but also drawing attention to the textual structures it deploys to create meaning.
Terms of Use: This article is made available under the terms and conditions applicable to Other Posted Material, as set forth at http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:dash.current.terms-of-use#LAA
Citable link to this page: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:9406020
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