für jüdische Geschichte und Kultur an der universität Leipzig

Natasha Gordinsky

Doktorandin/Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Israel)

Forschungsaufenthalt: 1. Mai bis 31. Juli 2006


Ethics and Aesthetics in the works of Ingeborg Bachmann, Leah Goldberg and Adrienne Rich


The question, which is central for my work, is the relation of Leah Goldberg, Ingeborg Bachmann and Adrienne Rich to the representation of the war in poetry. Goldberg, Bachmann and Rich were the most important female poets of  the national poetry of their time. Both Bachmann and Rich, who started to publish their poems at the end of The Second Wold War and Goldberg, who started publishing in 1935, raise in their works questions related to role of poetry towards art and its social-political obligation during the war-time and afterwards. These questions include different points: the fact of the justification of the representation of war in poetry, it's aims and the obligation of the poet to her readers. The fact of being of the three poets literary and philosophy researchers themselves enriches the comparison.

First of all, I exam the explicit attitudes of the poets to the question of the war representation and their self-positioning regarding the questions of moral, as they to be found in their essays. I'm not perceiving these attitudes as more authoritative as their poetic one, like the researchers in the past, but suggesting to read them as well as another fictive poetic perspective. Such method allows to create polyphony within the works of each of them and to cancel the traditional hierarchy between the prosaic essayist text and the poetry.

Secondly, I'm exploring the poems that treat in some ways the war and the ars-poetical poems as well. One of the novelties of my work lies in the challenge of immediate identity of the lyrical »I« and the essayist »I« with the biographical »I« of the poet. In another words, each of the poets creates various speakers (feminine and masculine) in their texts. The self-position of the lyric speakers of three poets changes itself and moves from masculine to feminine, from individual voice to the collective one, and by this creates different relations to the question of the representation of war.

In my work I'm using the following theoretical models: The philosophy of Bakhtin that deals with the question confrontation of ethic and aesthetic. Using his key-concepts such as »dialog« and »chrontopus,« I will describe the poetics of the lyrical speakers.

The works of Agamben, which exam the limits of literary representation and the complicated relation of poetics to practice, will assist me discussing the representation of war. 

With help of the works of Cixous, Irregaray and Cavarero, who deal in different ways with role of the voice in the creation of the female subjectivity, I will try to build a model for analyzing the types of lyric speakers, which will include in it a gender dimension.

The works of Goldberg and Rich (and mostly of Bachmann) are analyzed usually through the diachronic prism that includes their poetry within the national narrative. The comparison between their poetic projects, from the synchronic point of view on the representation of war in poetry, enables to cross the borders of the national narratives and to break through the research frame that gives to female voices an marginal place regarding the question of war.

At the theoretical level, I’m asking to »free« the poets from their biographies that tie together their poetry and their personal life, by detailed exploring of different lyric speakers in their works. The theoretical developments that problematize the gender question in the poetical constructs, like a lyric speaker, will add a new path, to my point of view, to the research of modern poetry.


Kanon und Diskurs - Perspektiven jenseits der Nationalphilologien

(gemeinsam mit Susanne Zepp, nähere Informationen unter

Lehre: Sommersemester 2006)