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‘Säbel- und Federkriege’: Strategies of Authorship in German Poems of War (1760–1815)

Pilsworth, Ellen Mary; (2017) ‘Säbel- und Federkriege’: Strategies of Authorship in German Poems of War (1760–1815). Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

This thesis examines the strategies of authorship used in German poems of war, from the Seven Years’ War to the Wars of Liberation. Applying Foucault’s theory that the ‘author’ is merely a function of discourse (an ‘author-function’), each chapter examines the way an author constructs, adapts, and masks his or her own authorship when approaching the topic of war. Chapter One examines the various roles adopted by Anna Louisa Karsch in her poetry discussing the Seven Years’ War, questioning the extent to which autobiographical readings of her works should be taken seriously. Chapter Two looks at Johann Wilhelm Ludwig Gleim’s Anacreontic poetry, his Preußische Kriegslieder eines Grenadiers, and his late Zeitgedichte. Gleim too is shown to play with various authorial roles in his works. The third chapter examines how Arnim and Brentano’s editorial strategies change between the first volume of their song collection, Des Knaben Wunderhorn (1805), and its later volumes (1808). I argue that the two editors retreat from political commentary in the later volumes, seeking consolation in the Romantic imagination. My final chapter compares the two editions of Rudolph Zacharias Becker’s Mildheimisches Liederbuch (1799 and 1815). Political poetry and the subject of war are approached quite differently in the two volumes, and Becker’s editorial strategy changes in the aftermath of the Napoleonic occupation. The thesis concludes that the designation of writers as ‘Gewissen der Nation,’ often applied to German writers since the Second World War, can also be applied to eighteenth-century poets. The more concretely writers engaged with the developing concepts of nationhood and citizenship, the more they considered the moral consequences of war, and the demands placed on the individual by political participation. Their experimentation with multiple roles and unstable attitudes to their own authorship demonstrate the changing understanding of the relationship between aesthetics, power, and morality.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: ‘Säbel- und Federkriege’: Strategies of Authorship in German Poems of War (1760–1815)
Event: UCL (University College London)
Language: English
Keywords: German, War poetry, Enlightenment, Author, Poetry
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > SELCS
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1571090
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