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Prof. Dr. Joachim Harst

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Fetishism as Literary Strategy

 

„Art is Fetishism” – this accusation against art that is seemingly closed in on itself and only allows a quasi-religious veneration must be considered in all its consequences. „Fetishism“ is often used as a polemic catchphrase – despite of, or even because of its vague meaning. Even cultural studies, that are currently exploring fetishism (Böhme), still have not been able to give a satisfactory definition of this polyvalent term. If, on the other hand, one puts the respective claims to the term in Freud and Marx in the foreground, „fetishism” is explained as a concept that produces and reflects its own conditions of possibility. This study works out the meaning of this term within Psychoanalysis, Marxist Economy and (Post-)Structural Linguistics, in order to reevaluate it in readings of Maupassant („La Chevelure“), Tieck („Der Runenberg“), and R. Müller („Irmelin Rose“); texts, in which „Fetishism“ is less addressed explicitly than performed linguistically. „Fetishism“ thus appears as a literary strategy, through which not only the tension of language between Psychoanalysis and Economy but also the corporeality and eroticism of the word can be redefined: Art is Fetishism.

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