UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Schimmelreitergeschichte : companion species and cultural techniques in Jahrhundertwende novellas by Hofmannsthal and Storm Kage, Melanie


The thesis at hand investigates horse-riding in two novellas of the German Jahrhundertwende era: Hugo von Hofmannsthal’s Reitergeschichte (1899) and Theodor Storm’s Der Schimmelreiter (1888). Cultural and Literary Animals Studies (CLAS), a newly evolving, interdisciplinary area of research, constitutes the framework for the analysis which focuses on equitation as a human-animal relationship with cultural and literary entanglements. Two theories from the larger context of posthumanism and concerned with humanimal practices are used to untangle the multitude of agents involved in riding: the Companion Species (CS) approach as introduced by Donna Haraway and the Cultural Techniques (CT) approach as introduced by German Media Studies scholars. The CS concepts allow an analysis of the human-equine figures and contact zones in the texts, while the CT notions enable an examination of the recursive chains of operations in horse-riding as a body technique. I have combined the approaches to engage with the material and semiotic complexities of equitation. Entangling them generates new methodological tools: world-making, emerging thirds, natureculturalization and earthiness. The literary texts are accompanied by research in Equitation Science and horsemanship manuals to enable even deeper practical insights. The interpretations of Reitergeschichte and Der Schimmelreiter untangle the concatenated links, loops, and liminal zones between the rhythmic movements of rider, horse and earthy ground. Therefore, the earthiness of riding stands out and in a larger conceptual and cultural context, it indicates the seismic shifts of the Jahrhundertwende’s trembling transitions in art, science and society, and humanity’s grounding troubles. The thesis thereby expands the CLAS framework into the fields of Ecocriticism and Environmental Humanities.

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