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German Sexology and the Art of Literary Evidence

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Richard von Krafft-Ebing, Iwan Bloch and of course Freud, who drew substantially on the studies of various nineteenth- and early twentieth-century sexologists, all make extensive use of literary sources in their works. Not only do they adopt terms and concepts from fictional texts, but literary representations frequently serve as evidence in their works and are treated as case studies which are deemed as valid as empirical observations. This blending of discourses has substantially shaped the nosologies of the early sexologists and, by implication, psychoanalysis. This paper analyzes the epistemological status and functions that are assigned to fictional representations in a few sexological and psychoanalytical works as well as the wider theoretical ramifications of factualizing fictions.

This talk is part of the German Graduate Research Seminar series.

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