Date: 22 November 2010
Start Time: 2pm
Location: Room 110, 43 Gordon Square, Bloomsbury, London.
Free entry; open to all
"Studies have over recent years revealed a strong interrelationship between Kafka’s writing and the polemical-ideological setting of early twentieth century Prague. Most compellingly, Kafka’s writing has been shown to resonate with the ideological preoccupations of the city’s Zionist movement, which enjoined assimilated Jews to look towards the traditional social structures of the Hassidic Ostjuden as a means of re-imagining their own identity. This resonance in turn raises the question of how Kafka’s writing relates more generally to the period’s increasingly suspicious stance towards modernity, in which the cult of Gemeinschaft often appeared to eclipse Enlightenment ideals of citizenship.
In this seminar, I will attempt to demonstrate how aspects of this discourse emerge in Kafka’s Castle: a novel which often derives narrative force from the mismatch of K., a seemingly modern protagonist, and his pre-industrial village setting. I hope to show the manner in which the terminology of the early sociological discourse, where the term Gemeinschaft was explicitly defined and popularised, can be usefully employed to describe the ensuing social dynamics between K. and the villagers. In so doing, I aim to demonstrate the manner in which The Castle plays out many of the paradoxes inherent within the surrounding discourse, predicated upon critiquing modernity, yet reliant upon a fundamentally modern outlook."
Dr Nathalie Wourm
Birkbeck Research in Representations of Kinship and Community
Birkbeck, University of London
43 Gordon Square
London WC1H OPD
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