Inhabiting the Discourses of Belonging; Franz Kafka and Yoko Tawada

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Abstract

Inhabiting the Discourses of Belonging; Franz Kafka and Yoko Tawada examines the role of language in creating the identity of the foreigner in German prose. Writing at opposite ends of the 20th century, Kafka and Tawada serve as harbingers for a broader sense of alienation that comes with writing as an Other. Using lenses provided by Spivak, Butler, Said and Deluze, this essay surveys the broader cultural concepts and theoretical implications of the notion of the metaphorical subaltern that can be created in prose, and the particularities presented by the German language in creating and articulating this identity. This essay examines six texts, three by Kafka and three by Tawada, placing them in contrast with one another. Ultimately this essay seeks to shift the hermeneutics of reading the Kantian Ding an sich of subaltern as hopeless, rather to see the these six texts as a plea for understanding.

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Aviv Hilbig-Bokaer

Aviv Hilbig-Bokaer

Aviv Hilbig-Bokaer studies Comparative Literature and International Development at Clark University. His primary interests include classic German literature, Cultural Studies, and the Russian Canon. Currently a United States Department of State Gillman Fellow at the Council on International Educational Exchange in Berlin, Aviv will spend the summer as a LEEP Fellow traveling across Russia. His other scholarly work can be seen in the Worcester Art Museum’s Cyanotypes; Photography’s Blue Period Catalog. He lives in Ithaca, New York where he finds inspiration in the familiar and familial faces.