ICTS Webinar Series Autumn 2021 –
“The Nation as a Body – The Body as a Nation: On the Dynamics of Territorial and Symbolical Borders in Ernst von Salomon’s The Outlaws (Die Geächteten, 1930)”, Dr Hannelore Roth (University of Leuven), 16 Nov 2021 @ 13:00 GMT (online)

Focusing on the autobiographical Freikorps novel Die Geächteten (1930) by Ernst von Salomon, Dr Hannelore Roth will investigate the relationship between territorial borders on the one hand and symbolic, corporal borders on the other. I argue that the vitalistic impetus of the national revolutionary discourse in the text implies a specific conception of borders, which is closely linked to the geopolitical works of Friedrich Ratzel and Karl Haushofer who popularised the term Lebensraum (living space). In accordance with Ratzel’s and Haushofer’s distinction between ‘abstract’, i.e. political borders and ‘real’ borders, which have their bellicose origin in the migration of the Germanic peoples, Salomon localizes the German nation not within juristic-cartographic state borders, but “at the frontier”; this frontier is not imagined as a clear ‘line’ but as a dynamic fighting zone. Like the skin of the biological body it can shrink or endlessly expand. In line with this anthropogeographical conception of borders, territorial and corporal borders merge into one another. This lecture examines how the national and individual subject constitute each other through the ambivalent dynamics of border crossing and re-stabilization. Of particular interest are representations of masculinity in this context. In Salomon’s book the German Freikorps is not only fighting at the frontier for a national regeneration but also for maintaining or restaging their male identity, which has become fragile after the lost World War.

Dr Hannelore Roth is a research scholar at the University of Leuven (Belgium), where she obtained her PhD on images of Prussia in 20th and 21st century German literature. In her current research project she investigates the literary and cultural afterlife of the Thirty Years War in 21st century German culture. Her research interests include modern and contemporary German literature, politics and literature, gender, in particular men’s studies, and pop culture.

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Fáilte Roimh Chách