Uncanny Collapse

Overview

This dissertation investigates the way Lustmord (sexual murder) is represented in popular fiction and non-fiction in the period from 1900 to 1933. During the Weimar Republic, Lustmord attained a surprising prominence in cultural life, recurring in a variety of genres and registers. The dissertation attends to popular representations of Lustmord, as well as to representations of the popular response to Lustmord's ubiquity. It identifies certain recurring rhetorical elements, tracing similarities between fictional ...
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Overview

This dissertation investigates the way Lustmord (sexual murder) is represented in popular fiction and non-fiction in the period from 1900 to 1933. During the Weimar Republic, Lustmord attained a surprising prominence in cultural life, recurring in a variety of genres and registers. The dissertation attends to popular representations of Lustmord, as well as to representations of the popular response to Lustmord's ubiquity. It identifies certain recurring rhetorical elements, tracing similarities between fictional and non-fictional representations and from Weimar back to the fantastic fiction of the fin-de-siecle. Primary sources are drawn from true-crime newspaper articles, psychiatric and psychoanalytic reports (Theodor Lessing), fantastic fiction (Hanns Heinz Ewers and Karl Hans Strobl), detective novels (Hugo Bettauer), and film (Fritz Lang). In these texts, Lustmord is figured as both a disaster and as an object of lurid fascination. This ambivalence is paralleled by a seemingly intractable paradox: the killer is represented at once as an outsider beyond the pale of society and, as a figure of illicit identification and public concern, as absolutely central to it. The dissertation uses the Freudian concepts the uncanny and the return of the repressed to come to terms with this paradox. The uncanny marks an unsettling moment in which what had been overcome and made other than the self returns to reveal itself as still a constituent part of the psyche. In a similar manner, the Lustmorder is continuously recalled into society in these representations by the very gestures that attempt to cast him out. The dissertation calls this return of unsettling content and unsettled form an uncanny collapse. Each chapter deals with an aspect of this uncanny collapse by linking a reading of a true-crime depiction of the late-Weimar Lustmorder Peter Kurten with a fictional representation. Fictional representations are more apt to evince a fascination with the killer than are non-fiction representations---but both share similar concerns and similar patterns of narrative or representation. What finally emerges from a consideration of all these popular representations is the idea that the public sphere of orderly life was endangered by Lustmord and its uncanny returns.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781243582768
  • Publisher: BiblioLabsII
  • Publication date: 9/3/2011
  • Pages: 290
  • Product dimensions: 7.44 (w) x 9.69 (h) x 0.61 (d)

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