PhD students 3rd cohort
Andrin Albrecht, M.A.
DFG-Graduiertenkolleg „Modell Romantik“
Bachstraße 18k | R. 108
+49 3641 944196
2014-2018 Bachelor of Arts in English language and literature, and history, at the University of Zurich
2016 ISEP exchange semester at Colorado Mesa University, Grand Junction, USA
2018-2020 Master of Arts in English language and literature, and modern history, at the University of Zurich, MA thesis supervised by Prof. Dr. Elisabeth Bronfen
2019 Exchange semester at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
2019-2020 Research assistant at the University of Zurich for the Lehrkredit: Audiovisual Essays
2020-2021 Curator and web designer for the online exhibition “Black Matters” in collaboration with Prof. Dr. Ana Sobral
since 2021 PhD fellow in the DFG Graduate College “Modell Romantik” at Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Germany
- “Over the Garden Wall: Real Fairytales and Imaginary Presents.” Part of the MA Seminar Impossible Worlds: Various Versions of the Fantastic by Prof. Dr. Dirk Vanderbeke, Friedrich-Schiller-University of Jena (15 June 2022).
- “Workshop: Wissenschaft und Kreatives Schreiben.” With Andrew Wildermuth, DFG-Graduiertenkolleg Modell Romantik, Friedrich-Schiller-University of Jena (10 February 2022).
Romantic Authorships and White Male Genius in the Wake of Moby Dick
Contiguous to US-American postmodernism, we encounter a specific form of the ‘Great American Novel’: voluminous, encyclopedic, stylistically eclectic, philosophically ambitious, notoriously inaccessible, and written by a specific type of white, male, upper-middle-class, Ivy-league-educated author. Interestingly, both within the novels themselves as well as in their reception (particularly in the throes of New Criticism) Herman Melville’s Moby Dick (1851) serves as a conspicuous Romantic point of reference: both matrix and model through which a distinct tradition of American literary genius is mobilized, elaborated, and at times critically reflected on. My dissertation analyzes three examples of such ‘Great American Novels’ from the second half of the 20th century: Ada, or Ardor: A Family Chronicle (1969) by Vladimir Nabokov, Gravity’s Rainbow (1973) by Thomas Pynchon, and House of Leaves (2000) by Mark Z. Danielewski. I argue that what connects these texts are their paradigmatic allusions to and parallels with Moby Dick in terms of, among other things,
- their formal and stylistic leanings towards Friedrich Schlegel’s Progressive Universalpoesie,
- their mutual use of transcendentally white objects of desire,
- their prominent metafictional and poetological concerns, and
- their removing themselves geographically from the real United States in order to engage with the US symbolically.
Moreover, I venture that they evoke these paradigms specifically to draw attention to, challenge, and variously re-assert aesthetics of Romantic authorial genius. Unlike most previous scholarship on these novels, I therefore do not aim to disentangle their poetics and chase down the metaphorical white whales of their copious, multiplex philosophical, intertextual, political, and historical allusions. Rather, I am interested in the effect of that very copiousness and multiplicity, the narrative and receptional capital that can be gained from it, and the degree to which these novels confront that capital and its tradition self-reflexively. In a comparative reading of Moby Dick, Ada, Gravity’s Rainbow, and House of Leaves, I therefore aim to examine parallels and notable differences in how these novels engage with the aesthetics of white male genius in
- their performance of ingenious creativity, especially in stylized Romantic contexts,
- their dramatization of struggle, positing the author’s artistic pursuits as a form of Romantic heroism, and
- their staging of failure, which at once hints at the limits of genius, and recalls the central role of trauma in the construction of Romantic subjectivity.
- “Anahid Nersessian. The Calamity Form.” gestern ROMANTIK heute. Forum für Wissenschaft und Kultur (2022). www.gestern-romantik-heute.uni-jena.de/wissenschaft/publikationen/default-b8e49d9c31
- “Mondsüchtig.” Ausbruch. Kurzgeschichten aus Biel und dem Seeland, ed. Bieler Tagblatt, Verlag Gassmann Media AG (2022). Audience choice award of the Bieler Tagblatt.
- “Und danke für den Fisch.” Texte des Monats 2020. Klima- und andere Katastrophen, ed. Isabelle Vonlanthen, Literaturhaus Zürich (2021). Named text of the month September by Literaturhaus Zurich. www.literaturhaus.ch/schreibwettbwerb-t/und-danke-fuer-den-fisch-von-andrin-albrecht
- “Festival.” Rougarou. Journal of Arts & Literature, University of Louisiana, Lafayette, vol. 4 (2020). rougarou.org/summer-2021-issue/festival/
- “Xanadu.” The Foundationalist. Intercollegial Literary Journal, Yale University, vol. 3, no. 1 (2019).
Talks and Presentations
- „Playing in the Snow: Whiteness and Authorial Reflection in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining.” Kubrick and Race, org. Joy McEntee, University of Adelaide (13.9.2021).