Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2017

Document Type

Thesis

Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors

Department

German Studies

First Advisor

Arne Höcker

Second Advisor

Helmut Müller-Sievers

Third Advisor

Paul Gordon

Fourth Advisor

Laura Osterman

Abstract

In my research project I investigate the representation of madness in Georg Büchner’s novella “Lenz” and drama “Woyzeck”. These literary fragments reveal a deep ambivalence in their expression of madness, which operates both on the surface of each text and within it, so that not only are the main characters insane, but the texts themselves are mad. This ambivalence is elaborated in terms of Büchner’s engagement with some of the deepest problems of modernity, namely the problems of spatial orientation and judgment between the rule and exception as rooted in Kant’s distinction between concepts and intuitions in the Critique of Pure Reason. This project thereby displays Büchner’s literature as profoundly modern and artistically innovative, aspects which have been underappreciated by much scholarship of Büchner.

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