Through the Siren's Looking-Glass: Victorian Monstrosity of the Male Desiring Subject

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Dokumentart: PhDThesis
Date: 2017-01-09
Language: English
Faculty: 5 Philosophische Fakultät
Department: Anglistik, Amerikanistik
Advisor: Kimmich, Dorothee (Prof. Dr.)
Day of Oral Examination: 2014-12-19
DDC Classifikation: 000 - Computer science, information and general works
100 - Philosophy
300 - Social sciences, sociology and anthropology
420 - English and Old English
800 - Literature and rhetoric
820 - English and Old English literatures
Keywords: Spiegel , Verlangen , Psychoanalyse
Other Keywords: Reflektion
Victorian Britain
19th century
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"Through the Subject’s Looking-Glass" is a book about Victorian siren literature, siren painting and mirror culture. Its main argument is that the widespread emergence of mirrors in the nineteenth century drastically reshaped the concepts of desire and self-perception, introducing a specific, consumerist type of subjectivity. The representation of this new configuration of selfhood found its way to quite an unexpected place: the siren literature and painting of the era. In the nineteenth century, mirrors had become mass-produced, spectacularized and could be found in every corner, thus the narratives from the era started sketching a subject lost in the simulacrum of consumerism, everlastingly imprisoned within a circle of desire. At the same time, the representation of sirens changed. The previously lethal vocal seductresses turned into innocent maidens in pursuit of happiness and fulfillment. By becoming profoundly human, for the first time in the history of their representation, they appeared as subjects themselves: monstrous subjects lost in the circle of desire. The book argues that in the images of the Victorian sirens, writers and painters topologized their own consumerist selfhood of the age.

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