Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2012

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In


First Advisor

Maierhofer, Waltraud

First Committee Member

Fagan, Sarah

Second Committee Member

Ehrstine, Glenn

Third Committee Member

Scullion, Rosemarie

Fourth Committee Member

Biebuyck, Benjamin


This dissertation identifies a small range of German literary and filmic works beginning in 1898 and ending in 2009 in which the embodiment of homelessness demonstrates a reassertion of space. Despite the recent attention paid to space and the sense of permeability and movement that they can suggest in narratives, literary experts have published little on what surely must be one of the most politically and socially-charged of all spaces--uncanny spaces that include individuals so common to us and yet also so varyingly different--that is, homeless spaces. This liminal zone frequently opens up the potential for inner transformation and unforeseen possibility for not only the homeless character but quite possibly for other marginalized groups as well.

The work done here looks for homeless instances in modern German artistic expression that suggest productivity, possibility, change and even power in the transient literary and filmic character and how such manifestations relate to Germany's larger social, historical and political contexts. I juxtapose my textual findings on German homelessness with relevant theories like liminality, geocriticism and ecofeminism in order to illustrate how the transgression of boundaries can tell us much about the deconstruction of binaries such as domestic/public, male/female, young/old and the transfer of power; and to demonstrate that a German homeless condition is constructed differently through discrete social and cultural networks and through alternative spaces. I am particularly interested in the lack of analyses concerning homeless women and children and what this suggests about broader trends in gender and age formation with regard to a person's home or lack thereof. My attention to the textual aesthetics and narratological devices that underline homelessness offer additional insight into its poetics and literary significance.

In sum, the dissertation at hand contributes to finding value in the homeless population's spatial transgression by actually locating it literally. The following chapters consider homelessness first and foremost as linked to a spatial concept in which the homeless figure's act of moving and transgressing normative boundaries is considered paramount. The German texts and films herein are linked by their relationship with the space in which they evolve.


vi, 216 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 199-216).


Copyright 2012 Kirsten E. Kumpf Baele