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June 24 , 2007

Revolting Families

Toxic Intimacy, Private Politics, and Literary Realisms in the German Sixties


Revolting Families places the literary depiction of familial and intimate relations in 1960s West Germany against the backdrop of public discourse on the political significance of the private sphere. Carrie Smith-Prei focuses on debut works by German authors considered to be part of the “new” and “black” realism movements: Dieter Wellershoff, Rolf Dieter Brinkmann, Gisela Elsner, and Renate Rasp. Each of the works by these authors uses depictions of neurosis, disgust, vertigo, or violence to elicit a reaction in readers that calls them to political, social, or ethical action.

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Revolting Families thus extends the concept of negativity, which has long been part of post-war German philosophical and aesthetic theory, to the body in German literature and culture. Through an analysis of these texts and of contextual discourse, Smith-Prei develops a theoretical concept of corporeal negativity that works to provoke socio-political engagement with the private sphere.

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