Global Humanities Junior Fellow at Harvard
August - December 2014
Fever: A Blessing or a Curse? An Analysis of an Interdiciplinary Phenomenon in Modernist and 19th Century Literature
This project explores the heterogeneous literary representations of fever in the late 19th and early 20th century. In the chosen texts by Charles Dickens, Joseph Conrad, Virginia Woolf, Fjodor Dostojewski and Thomas Mann, the motive of the feverish protagonist and the delirium play a vital role and ask for specific poetic techniques. The analysis examines how the phenomenon is aesthetically and poetically embodied in the texts, how literature depicts the workings of the mind in narration through the troubled perception of the world that comes with fever, and which discourses literature relies upon and to what purpose (medicine, psychology, science, the exotic, etc.). Comparative literature patterns of attribution open up a counter-discourse to predominant approaches of rational or scientific origin. With its comparative approach the project seeks to offer a contribution to the interdisciplinary discussion upon the relation on knowledge and literature, from the point of view of Comparative Literary Studies.
Leonie Achtnich completed a Bachelor’s degree in Comparative Literature, Psychology and Political Science at Freie Universitaet Berlin and at the Università degli Studi di Verona. She holds a Master degree in Comparative Literature from Freie Universitaet Berlin. Since 2013, she has been a doctoral candidate and lecturer at the Peter Szondi-Institut, working for the Chair for English and Comparative Literature Prof. Dr. Claudia Olk. Her doctoral research focuses on the literary representations of fever in texts from the 19th and early 20th century.