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Kafka and Photography

Throughout his life, Franz Kafka was fascinated by photography, a medium which for him came to encapsulate both the attractions and the pitfalls of modern life. Kafka's personal engagement with the medium - as a keen viewer and collector of photographs as well as an amateur photographer - is reflected in his writings, which explore photography from a variety of different perspectives By far the most frequently and extensively discussed visual medium in Kafka's texts, photography is paradigmatic of his relationship to visuality more generally. This study not only explores photography's recurrence as a theme within his texts but it is also the first to take systematic account of Kafka's use of photographs as literary source material. Kafka and Photography presents one of the most important modern writers from an entirely new perspective; it sheds new light on familiar works and uncovers unexplored aspects of Kafka's engagement with his time and context. Providing a chronological account of key prose works, as well as the personal writings, this study is accessible to students and lay readers. It will be of interest not only to literary scholars but also to those working in photography, media, and cultural studies. Its detailed textual analyses are set against a richly documented historical context which illustrates Kafka's interest in contemporary culture through a range of visual material taken from public as well as private sources - some of which has only recently become available. As this book demonstrates, photography had a profound impact on Kafka's literary imagination and as such helps to explain the mesmerizing intensity of enigmatic visual detail which is a hallmark of his narratives.
Product Details

Table of Contents

Preface ; Acknowledgements ; List of Illustrations ; List of Abbreviations ; Introduction ; 1. Kafka and photography: History of a theoretical configuration ; 2. From film to photography: Constructing the viewer in the early diaries ; 3. Der Verschollene: Visions of the New World ; 4. Photographic metamorphoses: Die Verwandlung ; 5. Fetishistic exchange: Kafka's letters to Felice Bauer ; 6. Der Process: The criminological gaze ; 7. Optics of Power: 'Blumfeld', 'Ein Hungerkunstler', and Das Schloss ; Conclusion: Kafka the photographer? ; Bibliography

About the Author

Carolin Duttlinger is University Lecturer in German at Oxford University, and Fellow and Tutor of Wadham College. She studied in Freiburg, Germany, and Cambridge, where she completed her doctorate in 2003. Her primary research interests lie in the field of twentieth-century German literature and thought, with particular reference to the relationship between literature and visual culture. She has published on writers such as Benjamin, Freud, Adorno, Sebald, and Thomas Kling and is the editor of a volume on Performance and Performativity in German Cultural Studies (2004). Her current project explores concepts of attentiveness in twentieth-century literature, science, and culture.


Carolin Duttlinger discusses Kafka's photographs...and their origins, drawing on the writings of Theodor W. Adorno, Walter Benjamin and Siegfried Kracauer as well as Roland Barthes and Susan Sontag. But the great strength of her book lies in the fact that the theory and history of photography as a key medium of modernity forms only the framework of her argument. Within this framework we see a literary critic at work who approaches her material using her own methodology: that of philology. Lothar Muller, Suddeutsche Zeitung In a series of at times stunning textual and visual analyses, Carolin Duttlinger demonstrates that Kafka's writing was to a great extent inspired by a rich archive of visual material...Duttlinger's book offers a meticulous excavation of a 'little' history of photography from Kafka's writing while, at the same time, weaving the compelling and lucid narrative of a writer's visual imagination in a way that is a true pleasure to read and follow at every stage. This is an exceptional study that provides important insights into the relationship between literature and media technology and should open further avenues for reading Kafka's work in the context of media studies. Markus Zisselsberger, The Modern Language Review Dutlinger's book offers a meticulous excavation of a 'little' history of photgraphy from Kafka's writing while, at the same time, weaving the compelling and lucid narrative of a writer's visual imagination in a way that is true pleasure to read and follow at every stage MLR As Duttlinger convincingly demonstrates, photography is a central theme in Kafka's writings of all periods as well as a key metaphor for Kafka's literary approach...This study doubtlessly offers a vital contribution to existing research and sets new standards in Kafka scholarship, as well as providing an indispensible account of the media-historical background, context and sources which shaped Kafka's writing. Silke Horstkotte, IASLonline the author admirably locates and cogently translates key texts in which Kafka turns to photography

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