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Title: Scenographies of Perception: Recasting the Sensuous in Hegel, Novalis, Rilke, Proust
Authors: Jany, Christian
Advisors: Brodsky, Claudia
Doherty, Brigid
Contributors: German Department
Keywords: Modernism
Subjects: Germanic literature
Issue Date: 2015
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This dissertation concerns the interplay between perceptual and narrative processes, which has been under scrutiny not only in theories of sense perception but also in literary descriptions of sensory experience. The main thesis is that the distinctive logic of sense perception--its inherent temporality and relationality--proves integral to the reading of certain texts by G.W.F. Hegel, Friedrich von Hardenberg, known as Novalis, Rainer Maria Rilke, and Marcel Proust. This thesis is developed in two steps. The Introduction and the chapters on Hegel (Part One) discuss the possibilities for such an interplay between perceptual and narrative processes. Drawing upon Husserlian phenomenology, theories of literary reception, and recent works discussing the relation between literary texts and the senses, the Introduction hypothesizes that sensory and readerly experience overlap to the extent that both require a narrative restructuring of their immediate diachronic contents (sensations or words) on the part of the perceiving subject. Part One expands on this line of thought by discussing Hegel's theory of sense perception in the Phänomenologie des Geistes; Hegel here conceptualizes sense perception as a narrative activity--as a Geschichte. Part Two analyzes the textual instances and traits that lend themselves to acts of readerly perception. The many striking scenes of perception that Novalis, Rilke, and Proust describe serve as exemplary cases in point. Since these scenes are communicated in writing, as scriptings of perception, I term them "scenographies" of perception. Analyzing fragmentary notes by Novalis and passages from Die Lehrlinge zu Saïs and Heinrich von Ofterdingen, the opening chapter of Part Two shows that Novalis relates poetic composition (dichten) to acts of perception not only conceptually but also practically--in the form of scenographies. The next chapter shows that in certain scenographies of Rilke's middle period the act of looking proceeds according to a reciprocal exchange of glances between beholder and perceived object, thereby severing the spatial as well as temporal origin of looking from the beholder. The final chapter shows that the first word of Proust's À la recherche du temps perdu--longtemps--functions as a leitmotif that correlates a recurrent sound with a mutable scene and, separately, that the leitmotific recurrences and transmutations of Vinteuil's music connect the narrator's story thematically.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:German

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