The Department of German, Russian & East European Languages & Literatures presents...
Prof. Judith Kasper (Goethe University, Frankfurt)
Workshop onMarx and the Wood Gleaners
“Wood Gleaning” (courtesy Rolando Deval)
When he was working as chief editor of the Rheinische Zeitung, the young Karl Marx utilized his full power of expression to write a series of articles in October and November 1842 devoted to the “sterile issue,” as he described it, of the debate about the Holzdiebstahlsgesetz (Theft of Wood Act) being held in the Rhineland Diet. These laws were intended to penalize the act of gleaning dead wood that had fallen off trees with extremely harsh punishments. The marginal gesture thus became a focal point of political and social conflict.
In the German-speaking world, Marx’s articles are the only well-known examination of gleaning in the nineteenth century. In the same period in France, by contrast, gleaning was not just the subject of innumerable legal disputes but also a topic in literature and in realist and naturalist painting.
After a brief historical introduction to the social and political conditions of early-nineteenth-century Germany and France, in this workshop we will look at the argumentation, dialectics, and rhetoric that Marx uses in these journalistic writings, which are themselves located at the periphery of Marx’s oeuvre, against the backdrop of the theoretical questions that I will develop in my lecture “On Gleaning or Reading the Void.”
Judith Kasper is Professor of Comparative Literature at Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main and co-editor-in-chief of the German psychoanalytic journal RISS. Her research focuses on philology and psychoanalysis, Holocaust Studies and trauma theory, and theories of the lyrics. Recent publications include Der traumatisierte Raum. Insistenz, Inschrift, Montage bei Freud, Levi, Kertész, Sebald und Dante (Traumatized Space: Insistence, Inscription and Montage in Freud, Levi, Kertész, Sebald und Dante) (Berlin: de Gruyter 2016).
PLEASE NOTE: A boxed breakfast will be provided at 9:30am outside the seminar room for guests to enjoy prior to the workshop. Food will not be permitted inside the seminar room during the event.