Hegelian aesthetics and the "dramatist" plays of Karl Gutzkow

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Hegelian aesthetics and the "dramatist" plays of Karl Gutzkow

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Title: Hegelian aesthetics and the "dramatist" plays of Karl Gutzkow
Author: Baker, Kenneth Scott
Abstract: My dissertation argues that Karl Gutzkow uses metadiscursive structures in his literary works to instruct his audience how to interpret literature. I claim that he develops this strategy through his reading of Hegel's philosophy. My first chapter elaborates the reception theory implicit in Hegel's Asthetik. I argue that reception, an extant but underdeveloped element in the Asthetik, actualizes artistically-presented ideas in society and thereby motivates changes in artistic production and reception. Chapter two details how Gutzkow overlays Hegel's theory of historical change onto aesthetic works as mediators of ideas so that literature may effect social change. Gutzkow incorporates the argumentative dimension of his journalistic writings into his literary works by including in his works analyses of other works of literature. This metadiscursivity constitutes a recurring strategy for communicating his ideas. In the next two chapters I elaborate the function of this strategy in the most obvious examples from his oeuvre, his plays about playwrights. Chapter three deals with Richard Savage (1839), where Gutzkow contrasts arguments for the effectiveness of drama in his depiction of the title character with arguments for the effectiveness of journalism in Savage's friend Richard Steele. Although Gutzkow demonstrates the power of a play within his play, he simultaneously undermines this argument by portraying Savage as a dandy and Steele as a responsible journalist. In chapter four I argue that similar self-reflexive structures in Das Urbild des Tartuffe (1844) reveal that Gutzkow has overcome his ambivalence in favor of drama's social power. In this play he portrays Moliere as a potent manipulator of public opinion through his plays. I argue that the choice of satirical comedy over tragedy attests to Gutzkow's new confidence in the power of drama. The concluding chapter highlights Gutzkow's unique adaptation of Hegel by comparing his works with those of other so-called Hegelian dramatist, namely Friedrich Hebbel and Heinrich Laube, and contrasting Gutzkow's practice of self-reflexive drama to their poorly articulated and implemented use of the same tropes.
Description: Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Washington, 2002
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1773/9949

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