2009 Student Research Conference:
22nd Annual Student Research Conference

Shadows for Sale: Peter Schlemiel's Depreciation of the Human Element
Jenny C. Jalack
Dr. Brent Orton and Dr. Cole Woodcox, Faculty Mentors

Each era of history elicits responses from those living within it so that works of art, political movements, and academic pursuits betray the catalyst of these cultural creations and the era itself. This statement remains true for the Europe of the 19th century, which hosted happenings such as the Romantic period and the Industrial Revolution, each impacting the nations and generations to follow. Adelbert von Chamisso's novella "Peter Schlemiels wundersame Geschichte" of 1813 is an artifact born of this tumultuous period in Western history. Through the medium of the Faust tradition, it raises fundamental questions about human pursuits and identity, namely the exploitation of human resources in an increasingly sovereign and bourgeois world and the subsequent devaluation of life's intangible qualities. In a more microcosmic sense, "Peter Schlemiel" investigates the case of an ordinary individual manipulated by his environment, his decisions, and the reforms sculpting an impending future.

Keywords: Peter Schlemihl, bourgeoisie, French Revolution, didactic, shadow, Faust, German

Topic(s):Interdisciplinary

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 43-3
Location: OP 2113
Time: 1:45

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