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Germanic Languages & Literatures pres.

Department Colloquium: Barbara Natalie Nagel "It's Not All So Bad, But Perhaps It Runs In the Family"

Domestic Violence in Robert Walser

Nagel Nagel
"Swiss modernist writer Robert Walser has come to late fame – not however for the attention he pays to the otherwise notoriously underrepresented issue of domestic violence. There is something obsessive about both the sheer quantity of scenes of family violence in Walser and the fact that he repeatedly revisits one and the same fantasy-tableau, sometimes across decades. My talk is concerned with this repetition and variation. Why, for instance, does Walser keep on changing the tone of these depictions? And why is Walser, more than other writers, so concerned with altering the perspective on these acts of violence? This talk uncovers in the often-cited 'madness' of Walser’s literature an important insight into what makes acts of domestic violence so challenging to grasp: Walser’s literary examples make evident that, in the case of family violence, the problem of perspective is not purely formal but intrinsic; epistemologically speaking, part of the violence of domestic violence is the exhausting degree of affective mobility it demands – a capacity but also an obligation to change tones and perspectives." -- Barbara Natalie Nagel, Assistant Professor, German Studies, Princeton University.

Friday, December 6, 3-4:45pm
Rackham, Earl Lewis Room, Third Floor
Nagel Nagel

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