Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2016

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department

Germanic Languages and Literatures

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



This dissertation explores the representation of imagination, emotion, and adolescent socialization in German literature of the nineteenth century, in both canonical and popular texts, beginning with the work of E. T. A. Hoffmann in the early part of the century and ending with Thomas Manns Buddenbrooks in 1901. I examine my topic through a number of lenses. The dissertation is divided into two parts, each with two chapters. In the first part, I show how these representations of character imagination and emotion are variously tied to historical questions of adolescence and socialization that appear in the literature of the period. In the first chapter, I analyze the importance of toys and miniatures in depicting imagination and emotion. As I show, disruptions in scale between these miniatures and the real world reflect characters struggles with the transition into adulthood. In the second chapter, I address books and the importance of reading and listening to texts; I show that good and bad forms of reading affect imagination and the maturation process. Concerned primarily with language and the construction of character thought and emotion, the second half of the dissertation traces how language affects the representation of adolescence. In the last two chapters, I use cognitive narrative theory and digital text mining to examine both the failure to express ones thoughts and feelings and the blurring of boundaries between individual character minds. My investigation of imagination and affect in these texts sheds light on nineteenth-century understandings of socialization, adolescence, and the formation (and criticism) of social groups as reflected in literature particularly the bourgeoisie; I am particularly interested in how these texts see questions of conformity how the individual was meant to fit within the contemporary social world and how the individual chose to resist or question social norms. This dissertation shows how authors contributed to the modern, developing understandings of childhood and adolescence and tried to find ways to narrate the experience of this time of life, which was in some ways a new phenomenon.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

Lynne Tatlock

Committee Members

Jennifer Kapczynski, Erin McGlothlin, Matt Erlin, Joe Loewenstein,


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