"Almost Poetic": Alfred Döblin's Subversive Theater

Suter, Geraldine, German - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Bennett, Benjamin, Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures, University of Virginia

This dissertation explores elements of objectification, artistic control, and power in three of Döblin’s plays: "Lydia und Mäxchen," "Comteß Mizzi," and "Die Ehe." In the first chapter I address the nature of, and relationships between, characters and things that people these plays, and outline Döblin’s animation of props, and their elevation to the status of characters in his initial play "Lydia und Mäxchen," the objectification of characters in his second play "Comteß Mizzi," and a combination thereof in his final play "Die Ehe." In the second chapter I treat issues of artistic control. While his debut play contains multiple and unconventional loci of control, the focus of his second play lies on artistic restrictions and its consequences. In his final play Döblin addresses social forces which rule different classes. In the third chapter I connect the elements of objectification and uprising with matters of control by arguing that Döblin employs Marxist themes throughout his plays. In "Lydia und Mäxchen" I compare the uprising of the props against the poet (and all things human) to the uprising of the working class against the bourgeoisie. In "Comteß Mizzi" I discuss matters of human mechanization and the alienation of labor. In "Die Ehe" I address the lack of control that members of all classes experience since capitalism establishes itself as reigning force.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Alfred Döblin, German Literature, Marx, Drama, Theater
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