Thinking (the) Underground
By analyzing works of German literature from the early Romantic period onwards through the lens of nineteenth- and twentieth-century philosophy and critical theory, this project investigates the multiplicity and evolution of the »underground« as an image in German discourse between 1800-1950. Why did figures of caves, mines, miners, and other subterranean dwellers captivate and indeed become indispensable to the Romantic literary imagination?
The investigation of the Romantic underground situates these representations chiefly as forms of literary-philosophical resistance to the perennial concept of »ground«, which embodied the very meanings and goals of philosophical reasoning for Plato and later Enlightenment and idealist thinkers, particularly Kant and Fichte. If the Romantics sought to challenge as well as to extend the reach of philosophy, the figures of the underground—in their subversion or their literal under-mining of the logic of ground—are responsible for this achievement.