Zur Szene der Person
[By Proxy. Agency, Representation, and the Scene of the Person]

Konstanz University Press, Konstanz 2022, 431 pages
ISBN 978-3-8353-9143-7

Recent crises newly urge the question of speaking and acting for others. How can those whose voices are not heard—stateless persons, future generations, non-human actors, environments—be represented? In this context, the debate on the possibilities and limits of representation gains urgency and can be given a new spin with the technique of representation by proxy [Stellvertretung]. This technique is not only a mere exception in the case of supposed marginal cases. As this book argues, representation is actually entailed in any form of speech or action. The history of theatrical, theological, and narrative models of representation by proxy demonstrates that appearing with the help of advocates, proxies, agents, and representatives is a highly ambivalent experience: it can allow those who are otherwise not heard to come forward. By taking the position of the represented, however, representation by proxy doubles and divides it at the same time, and it threatens to repress the same voices that it represents.

With a wide variety of readings, from Aeschylus to Shakespeare and Hobbes, Kleist and Kant, to Kafka and ecopoetics, Katrin Trüstedt unfolds the multifaceted archeology of representation by proxy. Another history of the person emerges, whose ability to speak is only supposedly self-evident and who remains dependent on the structure of representation. Contrary to the attempt to overcome and internalize representation by proxy within the subject, this book aims at unfolding this interpersonal technique in all its complexity to open up a more dynamic scene of the person and a new take on representation.


Bücher im Gespräch

Episode 18: Stellvertretung

For our podcast, Katrin Trüstedt talked to Oliver Precht about her book.
(in German)

Media Response

01 May 2023
Stellvertretung. Zur Szene der Person

Review by Arne Höcker, in: German Studies Review 46.2 (2023), 335–337