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Ergebnisanzeige "Violence and Destruction in Heinrich von Kleist"
RessourcentypCall for Papers
TitelViolence and Destruction in Heinrich von Kleist
BeschreibungCall for Papers: 2008 Northeastern Modern Language Association (NeMLA)

April 10-13, 2008
Buffalo, New York

Violence and destruction in their largest physical and metaphorical senses take many forms in Heinrich von Kleist’s works. While physical and architectural violence, such as that in Penthesilea or Das Erdbeben in Chili, take place on the most concrete level, the consequences of this violence are complex and often linked to Kleist’s explorations of many themes, from family structure to aesthetic representation.

The image of the falling arch saved by the very gravity pulling it down appears repeatedly throughout Kleist’s work and is paradigmatic of his ambiguous relationship to violence and destruction. In the Erdbeben in Chili, two walls collapsing against each other leave space for the protagonist’s safe escape from the city. The strength of the arch draws precisely from the threat of its fall, and it is this duality in the “Bogenschluss” that simultaneously renders it the complex symbol of birth and death, construction and destruction, violence and community.

One can argue that the Kleistian text enacts violence on many other levels, for Penthesilea’s abuse of Achilles likewise enacts the very destruction of classical drama and mythology as the norms of literary discourse. In Michael Koolhaas, for instance, terrorist violence is virtually condoned as a reaction against further injustices in the world. Furthermore, the bizarre destructions and reconstructions of family structures demonstrate productive experimentation with social values and gender expectations. The trial of Adam v. Adam in Der zerbrochne Krug is at the same time both a destruction of the court and an embodied act of violence against the self. Moreover, the violence against written documents in some texts, as well as Kleist’s ludic use of puns, repetitions, speaking names, and misleading syntax can even be said to enact violence upon the very language that constructs literature itself.

This panel seeks to explore the multivalent manifestations and significance of violence and destruction in Kleist’s texts. Who are the agents of violence? Who or what is destroyed by the text? What role does self-destruction play? What is the connection between violence, destruction, and social or political power relations? What are the motivations behind terrorism and what results from it? To what extent does the Kleistian subject emerge through or as a result of great catastrophe? And what are the implications of violence and destruction here? Can we agree with Helmut Schneider and say that destruction is in Kleist’s works also the deconstruction of romantic or classical bourgeois values? Is violence an end or does it open doors to new beginnings, as the image of the “Bogenschluss” might suggest?

Topics might include but are certainly not limited to:

- Physical and linguistic violence in Michael Koolhaas
- Violence and gender representation in Penthesilea
- Destruction as creation in Erdbeben in Chili, Verlobung in Santo Domingo, and Penthesilea
- The plague as physical illness and social destruction in Robert Guiskard
- War and violence in Michael Koolhaas, Penthesilea, and Der Prinz von Homburg
- Reenacting and destructing the classical text in Penthesilea

Please send a 300-word abstract and a one-paragraph biographical sketch to
Pascale LaFountain (

The submission deadline is September 15, 2007.

Pascale Niehe LaFountain, A.M.
Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures
Barker Center 365
12 Quincy Street
Harvard University
Cambridge, MA 02138

Quelle der BeschreibungInformation des Anbieters
PersonName: LaFountain, Pascale Niehe 
Funktion: Ansprechpartnerin 
KontaktdatenName/Institution: Harvard University, Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures 
Strasse/Postfach: Barker Center 365, 12 Quincy Street 
Postleitzahl: MA 02138 
Stadt: Cambridge 
LandVereinigte Staaten von Amerika
SchlüsselbegriffeLiteratur 1770 - 1830
Klassifikation14.00.00 Romantik;
14.00.00 Romantik > 14.12.00 Zu einzelnen Autoren
Ediert von  H-Germanistik
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