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Hochbegabte kinder - das unterdrückte genie -- was treibt Hans Giebenrath unter das rad?: eine neuere perspektive zu Herman Hesses Unterm Rad, in bezug auf die idee ,das lernen als strafe'




Riggs, Kaysha, author
Hughes, Jolyon, advisor
Kirby, Rachel, committee member
Hulpke, Alexander, committee member

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The current discussion on Hermann Hesse's 1906 book, Unterm Rad, leaves many open-ended questions. Because the storyline so closely follows Hermann Hesse's personal biography, it obfuscates his authorial intentions and makes it difficult for scholars to differentiate between the two. Many critics also claim that the correlations between Unterm Rad's protagonist, Hans Giebenrath, and Hesse's personal life have actually stagnated later research about the book, as discussions always circle back to Hesse's personal struggles in the Prussian school system. This thesis, although acknowledging the similarities to Hesse's personal timeline, aims to frame the book in historical context in order to discuss its importance in a literary context. This thesis begins by analyzing the norm of educational methods in the early nineteenth century, and establishes that they are strongly based on a long tradition of child rearing by using force. This can be traced back to some accounts from 1752, and are based on a history of bourgeois childrearing. The headmaster and pastor's treatment of Hans in Unterm Rad clearly demonstrate the force and suppression of new ideas, used as modes of teaching to ensure students conformed to societal norms: this is historically reconcilable. Hesse's fictional story is thus the ideal basis for an analysis of childrearing methods used during that time. In order to effectively introduce a new perspective on the discussion, this paper uses the New Historicism approach and begins with Roland Barthes's theory of authorial intention. It analyses the text within the constraints of The Death of the Author, and continues with Michel Foucault's What is an Author? The goal is to evaluate what Unterm Rad says about the child rearing at the turn of the century in southern Germany, particularly for gifted children, and how it can be applied to what is already known from a historical standpoint. This idea is then applied from Hans Giebenrath's point of view to German psychologist Katharina Rutschky's concept of "Schwarze Pädagogik" or "Black Pedagogy" and her theories of suppression. This idea is further supplemented by Alice Millers research on childrearing, in relation to Hans's experience at the school in Maulbronn.


Text in German; title and abstract in English and German.

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