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An other Kind of Home

Gender-Sexual Abjection, Subjectivity, and the Uncanny in Literature and Film

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Kyle Frackman

In this study, the author examines works of German-language literature and film from the nineteenth and twentieth century in order to chart a certain kind of otherness. Common to all of the examined cultural products are aspects of gender, sexuality, a notion of home or belonging, and pressures of abjection. Other elements of identity include race and disease. The characters in the analyzed works encounter both mutual dependence and abhorrence, which complicate their experiences in space and time. This analysis demonstrates that acceptance and belonging are difficult to attain, particularly in the fraught power dynamics in these works. This book includes discussions of works by Frank Wedekind, Robert Musil, Kutluğ Ataman, and Pierre Sanoussi-Bliss.
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Chapter 2: Young Corporeality and Unstable Morality in Frank Wedekind’s: Frühlings Erwachen

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Chapter 2: Young Corporeality and Unstable Morality in Frank Wedekind’s Frühlings Erwachen

Das, was wir die Welt nennen, ist das Resultat einer Menge von Irrthümern und Phantasien, welche in der gesammten Entwickelung der organischen Wesen allmählich entstanden, in einander verwachsen und uns jetzt als aufgesammelter Schatz der ganzen Vergangenheit vererbt werden, - als Schatz: denn der Werth unseres Menschenthums ruht darauf. (Nietzsche, Menschliches, Allzumenschliches I und II 37)1

In this chapter I will expand my thoughts on the abject to focus on the effects of the abjection of youth and young bodies.2 In Frank Wedekind’s (1864–1918) drama, Frühlings Erwachen (1891), I propose that we witness this process of abjection as well as some of the effects of it, including the violent response of suicide. Since its first performance, the play has been controversial for its candid depiction of adolescent sexuality. One of the reasons it has often been criticized is Wedekind’s thematization of adults’ and parents’ poor stewardship of children’s introduction to the facts of life. I argue in this chapter that the children in Wedekind’s play are constructed as abject reflections of the adults. Through processes of cultural, moral, and historical inscription, the children’s bodies become an abject foil to the discursive and censorious desires of their authority figures, while simultaneously reflecting the other. With levels of success that vary by character, the forces of abjection modify, eject, or destroy the entities with which they interact, all as a...

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