Thursday, July 18, 2013, 7 pm
Die Macht des Todes: Ein Problem der Darstellung. (The Power of Death: a question of representation.)

Lecture by Elisabeth Bronfen (cultural scientist, professor of English and American studies, University of Zurich)

In its finality and on the border of the perceptible, death has always intrigued philosophy and aesthetics. The moment of death as an individual incident can neither be depicted directly nor captured by the image or language, and definite and experienced knowledge cannot be conveyed to the bereaved. As part of the exhibition by Valérie Favre at Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, Elizabeth Bronfen examines in her discourse, by the example of selected film clips, the difficulty of the representation of death.

Elizabeth Bronfen (born in 1958 in Munich, lives in Zurich) studied German, English and comparative literature at Radcliffe College and Harvard University. From 1985 to 1992, she worked at the University of Munich, where in 1986 she did a doctorate with a study on the literary space in the works of Dorothy Richardson and habilitated five years later. Since 1993 she has been Professor at the English Department of the University of Zurich. She has written a large number of scientific publications and books, including
The Knotted Subject. Hysteria and its Discontents (Princeton University Press, 1998), and Liebestod und Femme fatale. Der Austausch sozialer Energien zwischen Oper, Literatur und Film (Love-death and Femme Fatale. The exchange of social energies between opera, literature and film) (Frankfurt/Main, 2004). In her habilitation treatise Over Her Dead Body. Death, Femininity and the Aesthetic, (Manchester University Press, 1992), Bronfen examines the visual and narrative representations of death in the predominantly poststructuralist discourse. Bronfen argues that these can be read as symptoms of our culture, because there, the processes of re- and defiguration are often negotiated over the dead female body.