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From Cabinet of Dwarves (1715) to the Tin Drum (1959): Little People as a Mirror of Humankind
WhenFriday, Feb. 21, 2020, 2:30 – 3:30 p.m.
Campus locationDenny Hall (DEN)
Campus room359
Event typesAcademics, Lectures/Seminars
Event sponsorsDepartment of Germanics

Public Lecture Series :: Winter 2020

Ruth von Bernuth (German Studies, University of Carolina-Chapel Hill/Duke)

LIttle people are central to Günter Grass's postwar novel Die Blechtrommel (The Tin Drum), interrogating Germany's prewar, wartime, and postwar recent past and highlighting the National Socialist espousal of eugenics and period perceptions of dis/abilities and mental illness in general. But Grass's very modern German novel also harks back to concepts of little people in early modern Europe and their role in courtly societies of that period. Those ideas are represented here by Il Callotto resuscitato oder Neu eingerichtetes Zwerchen Cabinet (Callot Revived, or, The Newly Constructed Cabinet of Dwarves), published in multiple editions at the start of the 18th century. The popularity of little people in courtly culture, popular culture, and the arts, which is so prevalent in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, is a survival of the European foolish culture of earlier centuries. These often celebratory but objectifying early modern depictions of little people are shown to find both continuities and discontinuities with the various roles assigned them by Grass, as victims, collaborators, and, indeed, perpetrators.

Reception to follow.

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