Mosaics of the self : Kantian objects and female subjects in the work of Claire Goll and Paula Ludwig
In this thesis, I use poetic texts by two German women Expressionist authors, Claire Gull and Paula Ludwig, to examine questions of selfhood, aesthetics and sexual difference within a Kantian philosophical frame. The thesis is structured in two parts. In Part One, I situate the project via a critical examination of Lyotard's reworking of the Kanlian sublime. I argue that Lyotard closes down the gaps within Kant's system that feminist philosophy could usefully exploit and explore. I then position German Expressionism as an alternative mode of post-Kantianism. I argue that although the male Expressionist poets break down the Kantian subject-object distinction, they continue to position woman as the "other". There follows a brief bridging section, in which I outline work by some of the key women Expressionists, and argue that the theoretical frameworks used in Expressionist scholarship are inherently gendered. In Part Two of the thesis, I explore texts by both Go!! and Ludwig in detail. I argue that whilst the male Expressionists are concerned with dissolving male subjecthood, these writers can be read as subverting Kantian space-time to produce alternative modes of female selfhood and of the sublime. In chapter 4,! examine Goll's disruptive exploration of a mode of embodied selfhood generated through productive play and movements of relationality. Chapters 5 and 6 extend the theme of relationally generated selfhood by tracing the subversive use of neoplatonic and Orphic elements in a short story by Goll. In chapter 7, I show how Ludwig radically reconfigures the limits of both body and self to produce identities no longer constructed via oppositional boundaries in the manner of the Kantian subject. I conclude by arguing that the work of these authors provides feminist philosophy with productive models for rethinking immanent transcendence and relationally generated selfhood which can incorporate both difference and change.