Bithell Series of Dissertations

Rebecca May Johnson
August 9, 2019
How has classical literature shaped culture, knowledge, the thinkable? What happens when a canonical text is translated from his gaze into her, and their, gaze(s)?  These are some of the questions Barbara Köhler pursues in her modern epic poem, Niemands Frau (2007), her response to The Odyssey. Translated and re-imagined over the centuries, Homer’s tale found critical resonance in intellectual traditions from Christianity through to Post-Colonialism. Odysseus has been viewed as an ideal, reputedly using reason rather than force to dominate, but in Niemands Frau Köhler takes inspiration from Penelope to weave a text that challenges the rationalist and patriarchal epistemological traditions to which the Odyssey contributes....
Marissa Munderloh
July 16, 2017
German hip-hop culture is best known for its rap music and rappers’ portrayal of their life in Germany’s urban centres. Not many studies have looked at German hip-hop’s other main art forms, such as graffiti art, dance and music, in conjunction with rap, or considered their joint contribution to the creation and development of German popular culture and contemporary identity. This book breaks new ground by offering a comparative analysis of rappers, DJs, dancers, graffiti artists and their practices in the German cities of Hamburg and Oldenburg. In so doing, it reveals a variety of individual narratives on what it means to be German and to understand how German identities are managed and expressed through hip-hop’s different...
Esther Laufer
November 25, 2016
How can you fathom a bottomless abyss? How can you capture ineffable beauty in words? How do you narrate the master of all stories? These are the challenges that  seasoned poet Konrad von Würzburg set himself when at the end of the 13th century he composed his account of the Trojan War from a multitude of sources. Konrad has long been recognized as an exceptionally self-conscious author who frequently reflects on the nature, status and function of poetry, and who at times appears more concerned with the sparkling surface of his discourse than with the events he narrates. Taking these observations as a starting point, this study presents the first comprehensive treatment of metapoetics in the Trojanerkrieg. Focusing on traditional...
Katharina Volckmer
July 1, 2016
Society and its Outsiders in the Novels of Jakob Wassermann takes a fresh look at Wassermann’s depiction of society and its mechanisms of exclusion, specifically those affecting the Jew, the woman, the child and the homosexual man. Wassermann’s extensive oeuvre has not, until now, been considered as an attempt to portray German society at different historical stages, from the Biedermeier to the end of the Weimar Republic. At the same time, this analysis shows how Wassermann’s interest in outsider figures is intertwined with an interest in narrative technique and discusses how his perception of the world affects his depiction of character.
Kim Richmond
February 19, 2016
One of the few major enquiries into women’s narratives of political incarceration, this volume examines first-person accounts written against a backdrop of momentous historical events in twentieth-century Germany. Rosa Luxemburg’s prison letters are the starting point for the study, which explores the ways in which writing is used as a response to incarceration: how does the writer ‘perform’ femininity within the de-feminizing context of prison? How does she negotiate a self-representation as a ‘good’ woman? Central to this investigation is an awareness of the role of language as a means of empowerment within the disempowering environment of prison. As a key female political figure in twentieth-century Germany, Luxemburg wrote letters from...
Seiriol Dafydd
April 17, 2015
This book investigates a specific aspect of travel literature – the fictional travel novel – and one practitioner of that sub-genre – the contemporary German author Michael Roes (b. 1960). The analysis focuses on two main areas of research. The first concerns Roes’s representation of intercultural encounters: how does Roes conceive and present an encounter between representatives of different cultures? And what constitutes a successful encounter, if such a thing exists? The second area of interest in this study concerns Roes’s intertextual methodology. This study identifies those intertextual references that are of greatest significance and examines how and why Roes refers to other writers and their texts as he composes his own....
Catherine Smale
September 18, 2013
Ghosts have made an unexpected reappearance in post-unification German literature. Catherine Smale reads this as symptomatic of writers’ attempts to renegotiate their personal and collective identity following the loss of the former East German state. Focusing on the recent work of Christa Wolf and Irina Liebmann, Smale outlines the ways in which these writers adopt notions of haunting in their engagement with the double legacy of National Socialism and the GDR. The ghost has long been regarded as a vehicle for making manifest taboo or unauthorized memories. However, Smale goes further, demonstrating how the human subject is destabilized by the return of the phantom and is itself rendered insecure and spectral. Drawing on a wide...
Benedict Schofield
June 6, 2012
Nineteenth-century Germany witnessed many debates on the nature of the nation, both before and after unification in 1871. Bourgeois authors engaged closely with questions of class and national identity, and resourcefully sought to influence the collective destiny of the German people through works of popular fiction and cultural history. Typical of this trend was the realist writer Gustav Freytag (1816-1895), the most widely read novelist of his era. Innovatively exploring all of Freytag’s works (poetry, drama, novels, history, journalism, biography and literary theory), Schofield examines how his popular writing systematically re-imagined the social structures of German society, embedding political agendas within contemporary...
Michael James White
May 30, 2012
The novels of Theodor Fontane (1819-1898), Germany's most important Realist, have long been appreciated for the symbolism of their represented worlds. In this study, Michael White examines the significance of space and spatial experience across Fontane’s oeuvre, providing analyses of non-fiction prose and less well-known novels, alongside major works and poetry. The study reveals not only a complex and varied spatial symbolism, but also that space itself is a thematic concern in Fontane’s writing. His texts portray human beings’ relationships with their worlds, and how and to what end they invest their environment with meaning. Fontane's novels and travel writings emerge as profoundly reflexive discourses on art and its function...
Áine McMurtry
May 30, 2012
Ingeborg Bachmann (1927-73), one of the most acclaimed German-language poets of the post-war period, famously turned away from the lyric during the 1960s. Publicly declaring that she had stopped writing poetry, Bachmann began work on the prose Todesarten cycle that would dominate the last decade of her life. During a period of personal breakdown in the 1960s, however, she privately continued to write in verse, and the publication of selected drafts in 2000 threw new light on her compositional methods in this period. As the most extensive study to date of the poetic drafts, this monograph leads away from the polemic that surrounded their publication to establish the fragmentary texts as an experimental stage of writing that...

Pages