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Title page for ETD etd-03262013-102242

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Kieslich, Ingo
Author's Email Address ingo.kieslich@vanderbilt.edu
URN etd-03262013-102242
Title Walter Benjamin, Hannah Arendt. Storytelling in and as Theoretical Writing
Degree PhD
Department German
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Barbara Hahn Committee Chair
James McFarland Committee Co-Chair
Christoph Zeller Committee Member
David C. Wood Committee Member
  • storytelling
  • narrative and space
  • storyteller as theoretician
  • narrative and the political
Date of Defense 2013-03-19
Availability unrestricted

This dissertation is concerned with the topic of storytelling, and by extension narrative, in the works of Walter Benjamin and Hannah Arendt. My interest is aimed not only at storytelling as a topic in the authors’ works, but also at storytelling as it becomes a compositional element of their respective theoretic narratives. From the perspective of theoretic reflection my study has two major themes: narrative and the ‘break in tradition,’ and narrative and space. Both these aspects arise from specific historical, political and philosophical conditions in modernity that I address throughout my work. My reading of Benjamin and Arendt presupposes that the ‘break in tradition,’ which is a terminology found in both authors, is an experience that fundamentally shapes their thinking and writing.

In the course of approaching the tradition, narrative undergoes in Benjamin and Arendt a process of dissolution, and then what the former calls at one point the ‘restitution of the epic.’ I demonstrate how, in the course of this ‘restitution,’ properties of narrative become visible that were formerly concealed, and I propose that in both authors a new awareness and application of spatial principles in narrative arises. In this context I focus on the functional and compositional aspects of space for narrative, and the consequences this emphasis of space has for the writer – reader relationship. Concerning space in narrative my study thus implements a distinction between space as place or topos, and space as an inherent, formative element of narrative. In general the aim of my dissertation is to open up and present (again) from a unique angle the question of narrative possibilities in modern theoretic discourse.

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