AbstractsLanguage, Literature & Linguistics

Unraveling Austerlitz

by Rachel Tatum

Institution: Roskilde University
Year: 2015
Keywords: Modernity; Austerlitz; Foucault; Archive; Holocaust; Identity; Sebald; Bauman; Literature; German; Nature
Record ID: 1120798
Full text PDF: http://rudar.ruc.dk/handle/1800/18078


This project is a study of the critical stance that W.G. Sebald takes on modernity through his seminal work Austerlitz. Since its publication in 2001, Austerlitz has sparked contemporary academic debates over the effects modernity can have on an individual within society, as well as how literary fiction can be used as a platform to discuss traumatic historical events such as the Holocaust. Throughout this novel, Sebald offers insight into essential themes within modern society such as bureaucracy, technology, surveillance and transport, and the issues they reveal. It can be seen as an alternative to a more conservative historical approach, which relies too heavily upon archival information and leaves out the human experience. By using Michel Foucault’s Discipline & Punish for his ideas of Panopticism and surveillance, and Zygmunt Bauman’s Modernity and the Holocaust for his insightful critique, we aim to understand W.G. Sebald’s view of modernity