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Title page for ETD etd-06182013-104359

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Sterling, Brett Earl
URN etd-06182013-104359
Title "Das Gestaltlose zur Gestalt bringen": Representations of the Mass in the Works of Hermann Broch
Degree PhD
Department German
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Meike Werner Committee Chair
Christoph Zeller Committee Co-Chair
Barbara Hahn Committee Member
Helmut Walser Smith Committee Member
John A. McCarthy Committee Member
  • Masse
  • mass hysteria
  • political theory
  • mass psychology
  • unrepresentable
  • conception
  • democracy
Date of Defense 2013-04-25
Availability unrestricted
This dissertation explores the representation of masses in the works of Austrian exile author Hermann Broch. I argue that the largely indirect representations of the mass in Broch’s work are indicative of a persistent problem of conceiving the mass as an entity. In the dissertation, I trace this problem of conception and representation through Broch’s novels Die Schlafwandler, Der Tod des Vergil, Die Verzauberung, and Die Unbekannte Größe, the play Die Entsühnung, and end with his unfinished Massenwahntheorie. Where other scholars have analyzed Broch’s novels as a reflection of his theory, I instead demonstrate that the novels and the theory are part of a larger—ultimately unsuccessful—attempt to represent the unrepresentable. Broch’s inability to clearly define the mass, I conclude, undermines the potential of his theory and fiction to deliver meaningful solutions to the scourge of mass hysteria.
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