The Threat and Allure of the Magical: Selected Papers from the 17th Annual Interdisciplinary German Studies Conference, University of California, Berkeley

This collection of essays is borne out of the 17th Annual Interdisciplinary German Studies Conference at the University of California, Berkeley. The essays gathered here cover a broad range of topics moving from intersections between the occult and the political, to the entanglement of conceptions of the magical, modernity, media, and aesthetics.

The first two essays primarily rely on historical analysis and present a wealth of original research. One chronicles the construction of the witch in Early Modern print media, while the other unfolds the complex relationship of an infighting Third Reich with a multifaceted occult deemed at once fascinating and menacing. The third essay in the collection combines critical, literary, and feminist theories in order to address the magical as an aspect of the fairy tale – a theme in the works of Jelinek and Adorno – and as a challenge to Enlightenment reason. The next two essays, influenced heavily by narratology and semiotics, present close readings of 19th century novellas that question the nexus of mediality and perception, magic and narrative structure. The first of these two essays deals with the liminality of the marionette as it is caught between its mechanical and marvelous qualities in E. T. A. Hoffman’s Rat Krespel (Councilor Krespel), while the latter addresses the collapse of reality mirrored by the magical collapse of metaphor in Theodor Storm’s Pole Poppenspäler (Paul the Puppeteer). The last essay rounds out the compilation with a focus on new media. With close analyses of the films in Lang’s Mabuse trilogy, this essay charts their relation to the enchantment and disenchantment of the medium of film.

Ashwin Manthripragada, Emina Mušanović and Dagmar Theison are doctoral candidates in the Department of German at the University of California, Berkeley.

Ashwin Manthripragada is writing a dissertation on the philosophy and politics of ambivalence, movement, and transculturation. In bringing early 20th century German-language works (i.e. a novella by Stefan Zweig) that reconfigure classic Sanskrit-language works (i.e. Bhagavadgīta) together with current postcolonial and translation theory, he points to the porous, amoebic nature of cultural interaction – at once both exploitative and cooperative.

Emina Mušanović is currently working on a dissertation titled “Entangled Figurations: Shadow Matters in German Thought.” Her dissertation takes up the figure of the shadow as a site of diffraction in which the entanglement of intra-acting agents involved (human and non-human) is overtly enacted; a scene of intervention in which diffraction is offered up as a structuring principle against the dominant strategies of reflection and reflectivity. Her focus is of a thematic rather than epochal nature, and she is currently enmeshed in ecocritical new feminist materialisms, object oriented ontologies, agential realist and speculative realist thought.

Dagmar Theison is currently writing her dissertation on the interface between Yiddish and German literature of the interbellum period. She has a particular interest in Yiddish influences on the writings of Kafka and his contemporaries.

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Emina Musanovic

Dagmar Theison

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ISBN: 1-4438-4267-2

ISBN13: 978-1-4438-4267-9

Release Date: 19th March 2013

Pages: 145

Price: £39.99