The Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften: EventsThursday, 04 May 2023, 11:00
Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften, Am Wingertsberg 4, 61348 Bad Homburg
Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften of Goethe University
Frederike Middelhoff (Goethe University)
»German Romanticism and the Age of Emigrations«
German Romantic literature is often approached via the lens of »revolution« – in both political and aesthetic terms: overthrowing artistic norms, endorsing grotesque and wonderous aesthetics, celebrating scandalous amoral behaviour, Romantics writing – and early Romantic fiction especially – has long been regarded as either a mode of escapism regarding the politics of the day (the aftermath of the French Revolution, the Napoleonic Wars, Restauration, the dawn of modernity, etc.) or as a vital part of the nationalistic, pre-colonial sentiments that come full circle at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century.
My talk sheds light on an aspect of German Romantic writing (by Ludwig Tieck, Clemens Brentano, Bettina von Arnim and Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué) directly linked to the French Revolution and the ensuing Coalition Wars but which is still in need of a comprehensive investigation in the field of German Literary Studies. The paper explores how refugees are represented in Romantic fiction and how these forms of representation fit into the wider picture of socio-political discourse on French migrants in German-speaking countries around 1800. Distinguishing between different kinds of responses to different phases of post-revolutionary migration, the paper shows that German Romanticism was in fact far from the irrational or escapist stance many a critic has attested to the members of the Romantic circles in Jena, Heidelberg, Berlin and Frankfurt. German Romantic literature, I argue, rather actively engaged in, critically reflected and imaginatively pondered what it means to live in the age of emigrations.
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