Frauke Berndt

University of Zurich

Frauke Berndt is Professor of German Literature at the University of Zurich, after teaching at Goethe University Frankfurt am Main, University of Chicago, and Eberhard Karls University Tuebingen. Berndt has published widely on rhetoric, aesthetics & literary theory. Currently she is leading the international research group FORM.

Speaking at the conference

Friday, 23 September, 7pm, Kosovel Hall

The Sovereign’s Sickness: Karoline von Günderrode Deconstructs Classicism

It is one of the inventions of early modernism to map sovereignty on masculinity or even virility. Thus, power and potency are flip sides of the same coin. Art and literature are doing a great job in promoting this alliance. It is Don Juan, who serves as a role model for the sovereign, although theory seems to be too hooked by his obsessive desire, as to notice that it is the basis of power. This is probably so, because in 19th and 20th century this theory has been written by men, who would not question the alliance of power and potency. But even Judith Butler or Soshana Felman are corrupted by Don Juan. However, Karoline von Güderrode was not. Her counter-discoursive strategedy is the topic auf my talk. In her rather unknown ballad “Don Juan”, Günderrode attacks masculinity, i.e., she attacks German romanticism and its representatives by diagnosing the sickness of the sovereign.

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