03 July 2020

BOOK: Arne HÖCKER, The Case of Literature Forensic Narratives from Goethe to Kafka (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2020). ISBN 978-1-5017-4938-4, 113.95 EUR

Cornell University Press is publishing a new book on the influence of the modern European literary canon on the modern style of case-based reasoning.


In The Case of Literature, Arne Höcker offers a radical reassessment of the modern European literary canon. His re-interpretations of Goethe, Schiller, Büchner, Döblin, Musil, and Kafka show how literary and scientific narratives have determined each other over the past three centuries, and he argues that modern literature not only contributed to the development of the human sciences but also established itself as the privileged medium for a modern style of case-based reasoning.

The Case of Literature deftly traces the role of narrative fiction in relation to the scientific knowledge of the individual from 18th century psychology and pedagogy to 19th century sexology and criminology, and 20th century psychoanalysis. Höcker demonstrates how modern authors consciously engaged casuistic forms of writing to arrive at new understandings of literary discourse that correspond to major historical transformations in the function of fiction. He argues for the centrality of literature to changes in the conceptions of psychological knowledge production around 1800, legal responsibility and institutionalized forms of decision making throughout the 19th century, and literature's own realist demands in the early 20th century.


Arne Höcker is Assistant Professor of German Studies at the University of Colorado Boulder.

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