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Title: Material Latencies: Tracing the Management of Life in Alexander Kluge and French Post-Structuralism
Authors: Simova, Irina
Advisors: JenningsBaer, MichaelBenjamin
Contributors: Comparative Literature Department
Keywords: Alexander Kluge
Critical Theory
Subjects: Comparative literature
German literature
Issue Date: 2022
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: Material Latencies: Tracing the Management of Life in Alexander Kluge and French Post-Structuralism casts postwar intellectual history, film, and literature in an entirely new light by tracing thus far unexamined affinities between the oeuvre of Alexander Kluge and French post-structuralism. The dissertation recovers Kluge’s corpus as a major contribution to reimagining and representing emerging, latent, or repressed historical subjectivities and experiences characteristic of mid-twentieth century and postwar Germany. Organized around case studies of Kluge’s earlier works in film and literature, the project shows how Kluge’s reconstructions of German history anticipate and enrich seminal theories of contingency and event, abjection, biopower, and the surveillance state by such French thinkers as Michel Foucault, Gilles Deleuze, and Julia Kristeva. By inserting Kluge into this constellation of themes, the project reveals that Kluge’s oeuvre offers a unique analysis of the West German public sphere in works such as Schlachtbeschreibung (1964), Abschied von gestern (1966), Die Artisten in der Zirkuskuppel: ratlos (1968), and Deutschland im Herbst (1978). Kluge detects new forms of microphysics of power subtending West German politics in a manner that parallels or predates post-structuralist approaches. Prefiguring the French thinkers’ later work, Kluge provides a Frankfurt-School inspired investigation into the causality and structure of events and contingency. He expands the examination of emerging forms of biopower by tracing the ways in which neoliberalism surreptitiously co-opts, molds, and extracts individual capacities and forms of intimacy and affect. Additionally, Kluge’s corpus draws on questions of epistemic justice and the critique of social marginalization by disclosing forms of gendered abjection in the 1960s FRG’s juridical apparatus. Furthermore, it documents West Germany’s shift toward societies of control and preventive technologies that circumvent the Rechtsstaat. The dissertation thus identifies Kluge’s work as a site for aesthetic and theoretical innovation of models for representing and conceptualizing history and new emergent forms of experience in the second half of the twentieth century that have long been reserved only for French post-structuralism. The project highlights the unique place of Kluge’s aesthetic, as it opens up the Critical Theory paradigm to investigations of embodied experience as a site of knowledge production.
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Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Comparative Literature

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