Alisha StöcklinPhD candidate
Alisha Stöcklin studied philosophy and German philology (BA) / German literature (MA) at the University of Basel and completed her studies with a thesis on the relationship between art and truth in Theodor W. Adorno’s Aesthetic Theory (Max-Fäh-Award 2018). From 2015 to 2018 she was a student assistant at the Philosophical Seminar (Chair for the History of Philosophy under Prof. Dr. Gunnar Hindrichs). She regularly implements projects in the field of poetry outreach, such as the Day of Poetry, which she revived in 2012 and has organized annually since then. Since 2014 she has also been running the Poesietelefon in Basel. In addition, she is part of the group that curates the International Poetry Festival and awards the Basel Poetry Prize. Since 2018 she is working on her PhD project as a member of the eikones Graduate School.
»Was zu dir stand | an jedem der Ufer, | es tritt | gemäht in ein anderes Bild.«
(Paul Celan, »Stimmen«, Sprachgitter)
Imagery and Negativity in Contemporary Poetry
The project’s primary interest is in contemporary (mainly German) poetry and the relationship between imagery, negativity, and subjectivity. The central assumption is that in modernist poetry (since 1945) imagery increasingly establishes itself as negativity.
The development of modern poetry and the history of art in general is marked by confrontations with the possibilities and limitations of form. Negativity can then be understood structurally as a category of reflection, as a movement of object and thought: The rupturing of traditional schemata, of the delimited category of ‘work,’ and of classical genre boundaries lead to an increase of reflexivity, meaning that the more aesthetic structures circle within themselves, the less they are able to evade the dialectic of form and content. On the basis of the various ways self-reference can be described immanently in a text, either on the level of production- or of reception, it can be shown how modern subjectivity presents itself and seeks to grasp itself on the ground of negativity (not least also a content-related one), and how this complex merges with the modality of the image: Self-referentiality is one of the primary connecting points for a structural analysis of contemporary poetry and its particular handling of images because poetic language in itself possesses a dimension of imagery by drawing attention to and thus exposing its functions and materiality.
Among the central methodological concerns of this project is the investigation of the question whether and how image-theoretical approaches can be made fruitful for the understanding of contemporary poetry; the evaluation and systematization of the various approaches; the development of an explicitly image-theoretical terminology with respect to the interpretation of poetic language images as well as a comprehensive analysis of contemporary poetry with regard to its handling of images, which includes a conceptual treatment of image and negativity, and a description of the epistemological functions of this relationship.
Paul Celan’s linguistic images hold a discursive power in their hermeticism and originality. Based on his work and from there extending to contemporary poetry, this project develops a concept (of negativity) of modern poetic imagery.