Event Title

The Metonymic Carnival: Showman Figures in Modern German Drama

Presenter Information

Leah Barber, Oberlin CollegeFollow

Location

King Building 123

Start Date

4-27-2018 2:00 PM

End Date

4-27-2018 3:20 PM

Abstract

I will present my honors thesis in Comparative Literature, which charts the prominence and development of the showman figure across 19th and 20th century German drama. This project seeks to investigate the showman's status as metonym for the carnival and his adaptable meaning for questions of literary modernism in three German dramas spread across these centuries: Georg Büchner’s "Woyzeck," Frank Wedekind’s “Lulu” cycle, and Ernst Toller’s "Hinkemann." These modern playwrights took a special interest in the figure, whose metatheatrical potential and extra-artistic association presented an experimental avenue out of Aristotelian, and later Naturalist, strictures on the drama. Even as these dramatists appropriated the figure for his formal potential and distance from high drama in their search for a more open theatre form, two of them (Büchner and Toller) painted the showman as a nefarious symbol of the capitalist conflation of entertainment and oppressive propaganda, while the fin de siècle provocateur Wedekind embraced the figure's ambiguous morality as a challenge to bourgeois (sexual) sensibility.

Keywords:

drama, literary modernity, German Expressionism, carnival

Notes

Session IV, Panel 11 - Modern | Europe
Moderator: Leonard Smith, Frederick B. Artz Professor of History

Major

Comparative Literature; German

Advisor(s)

Stiliana Milkova, Comparative Literature
Steven Huff, German

Project Mentor(s)

Stiliana Milkova, Comparative Literature
Steven Huff, German

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Apr 27th, 2:00 PM Apr 27th, 3:20 PM

The Metonymic Carnival: Showman Figures in Modern German Drama

King Building 123

I will present my honors thesis in Comparative Literature, which charts the prominence and development of the showman figure across 19th and 20th century German drama. This project seeks to investigate the showman's status as metonym for the carnival and his adaptable meaning for questions of literary modernism in three German dramas spread across these centuries: Georg Büchner’s "Woyzeck," Frank Wedekind’s “Lulu” cycle, and Ernst Toller’s "Hinkemann." These modern playwrights took a special interest in the figure, whose metatheatrical potential and extra-artistic association presented an experimental avenue out of Aristotelian, and later Naturalist, strictures on the drama. Even as these dramatists appropriated the figure for his formal potential and distance from high drama in their search for a more open theatre form, two of them (Büchner and Toller) painted the showman as a nefarious symbol of the capitalist conflation of entertainment and oppressive propaganda, while the fin de siècle provocateur Wedekind embraced the figure's ambiguous morality as a challenge to bourgeois (sexual) sensibility.