Living Things, Human Beings: The Entanglements of the Organism

Significant criticism over the past few decades has investigated the emergence of a new discipline around 1800, with a newly-coined name, biology. The research project interrogated the ontological, epistemological, and social-political dimensions of the object this field constructed for itself—the organism. Indeed, the organism became a way to think through the relationship of dynamism and process to a concept of the object which, however, generated complicated notions of the subject. The book Living Things, Human Beings will focus in particular on discourses surrounding life processes that reveal the boundaries of any purported individual to be contested and contingent, for example, sexual reproduction, pregnancy, interspecies interdependencies, and organic-inorganic relations. These fraught interactions in which the human as organism was implicatedtherefore attracted institutional and ethical-normative buttressing.

Work on this project took place during a year-long sabbatical from Duke University during the 2021/2022 academic year. A second book project, Reflections from Germany on National Identity and Difficult Pasts, explores German engagement with responsibility for the Holocaust and reflects on its relevance for the US, also a country with a difficult past and diverse present (see also: Stefani Engelstein: How to Write as an Outsider About What It Means to Be German, in: ZfL BLOG, 17 Dec 2021).

Fig. above: Christian Konrad Sprengel: Das endeckte Geheimniss der Natur im Bau und in der Befruchtung der Blumen. Gedruckt bei Friedrich Vieweg dem Ältern. Berlin 1793, [265], Taf. XIV.

2021–2022
Head researcher(s): Stefani Engelstein

Publications

Stefani Engelstein

articles previously published on the contours of the organism in Kant, Fichte, Kleist, and Schelling:

Events

Lecture
14 Jun 2022 · 6.00 pm

Stefani Engelstein: Death Writes: Kafka’s Body, Tubercular Soundscapes, and the Place of Art

online via Zoom

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Workshop
03 May 2022 · 2.00 pm

Stefani Engelstein: Aesthetic Encounters and The Earth’s Transformations as Transmigration in Karoline von Günderrode

Eberhard-Karls-Universität Tübingen

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Lecture
02 May 2022 · 6.00 pm

Stefani Engelstein: Disorienting Reverberations and Tubercular Soundscapes: Tracing the Place (and Time) of Art through Kafka’s “Der Bau”

Eberhard-Karls-Universität Tübingen, Brechtbau, Wilhelmstr. 50, 72074 Tübingen, Raum 006

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Lecture
07 Dec 2021 · 11.30 am

Stefani Engelstein: Race and Civics: Du Bois and Wagner

Universitätsclub Bonn e.V., Konviktstraße 9, 53113 Bonn

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Conversation
28 Oct 2021 · 4.00 pm

Antigone’s Afterlife in Feminist Theory: Bonnie Honigin Conversation with Stefani Engelstein

online via Zoom

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Lecture
24 Sep 2021 · 6.00 pm

Stefani Engelstein: Undomesticated Matters: An Epistemology of Race, Kinship, and Nation

online via Zoom

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