The Morbidity of Culture

Melancholy, Trauma, Illness and Dying in Literature and Film

by Stephanie Siewert (Volume editor) Antonia Mehnert (Volume editor)
©2012 Edited Collection 162 Pages


The essay collection focuses on morbid phenomena such as melancholy, trauma, illness and death which engage with questions of «cultural vitality» and «cultural mortality». The figurations and representations of social pathologies not only display time in its existential drama, but furthermore show a paradox inherent to processes of decay: in passing lies a certain accumulation of life. Thus the morbid indicates the presence of the living, although it intentionally prefigures death. The collection points to the complex interconnections of social, medical and cultural discourses and assumes the seemingly negative of the morbid presence to be the constitutive element of the imagination and a catalyst for individual empowerment. As a source of life and art, the morbid then equally locates the point of intersection between ethics and aesthetics.


ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2012 (June)
Cultural Encounters Morrison, Toni Winthrup, John Narratives Aesthetics of Death s of Death
Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2012. 162 pp.

Biographical notes

Stephanie Siewert (Volume editor) Antonia Mehnert (Volume editor)

Stephanie Siewert is a PhD candidate in Comparative Literature at the University of Potsdam and a fellow of the Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes. She received her M.A. degree in American Studies, Comparative Literature and Educational Science. Her dissertation project focuses on carceral spaces and modalities of social visibility in literature and film of the 19th and 20th centuries. She is the co-editor of the essay collection Spaces of Desire – Spaces of Transition. Space and Emotion in Modern Literature (2011). Her main research interests include theories of space, affect theory, ethical criticism, and cultures of/in mobility. Antonia Mehnert is a PhD candidate at the University of Munich (American Studies Department), working on her dissertation project entitled «The Cultural Imaginary of Climate Change». She is furthermore participating in the structured doctoral program «Environment and Society» at the Rachel Carson Center. For her dissertation project she receives a scholarship from the Foundation of German Business. She studied American Studies, Latin-American studies and Economics at the University of Potsdam and the Free University Berlin. Her research interests include ecocriticism, Chicano/a Studies, the Caribbean, transnationalism, postcolonialism.


Title: The Morbidity of Culture