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An other Kind of Home

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


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 3: Discipline, Sexual Complicity, and Queer Space in Robert Musil’s: Törleß


Chapter 3: Discipline, Sexual Complicity, and Queer Space in Robert Musil’s Törleß

Space is fundamental in any form of communal life; space is fundamental in any exercise of power. (Foucault, “Space, Knowledge, and Power” 361)

In Space, Time, and Perversion: Essays on the Politics of Bodies, Elizabeth Grosz poses questions crucial for this chapter’s examination of Robert Musil’s (1880–1942) novel Die Verwirrungen des Zöglings Törleß (1906, hereinafter Törleß).1 Grosz wonders what the effects might be if architecture and space were pondered from and to their outside. What might be revealed or made possible if space and its uses were conceptualized in a way that included the “outside,” that is, that which is beyond architecture? Grosz writes:

[T]exts [e.g., buildings] could … be read, used, as modes of effectivity and action which, at their best, scatter thoughts and images into different linkages or new alignments without necessarily destroying their materiality. Ideally, they produce unexpected intensities, peculiar sites of indifference, new connections with other objects, and thus generate affective and conceptual transformations that problematize, challenge, and move beyond existing intellectual and pragmatic frameworks. (126–27)

Expanding our understanding and the utility of architecture, space, and setting, in other words, allows these “texts” (or textual elements) to take on different responsibilities and capabilities, ones that move beyond their traditional functions. These additional attributes have added importance and cannot be forgotten or removed from an examination of even literary social...

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