DFG Research Training Group Globalization and Literature. Representations, Transformations,  Interventions

Language Selection

Breadcrumb Navigation

Franziska Jekel

Franziska Jekel, M.A.

Poverty lines. Literary Topographies and narrated poverty in the twenty-first century novel.


Dissertation Abstract

My dissertation is based on the observation that poverty cannot be defined by economic parameters alone. Rather, the explicit or implicit use of stereotypes, metaphors, and topoi has an impact on the definition of poverty as well as historically variable religious and political categories. Literary texts in particular make use of these images by reflecting on them, reinforcing or destabilizing them. The invention of lies and stories, the staging of advocacy, excessive narrations or the silencing of narrative voices constitute central (literary) techniques that have been used as poetological approaches to poverty. Comparing a variety of contemporary novels, I focus on the poor person's "incorporation without introjection and without assimilation" (Derrida) and the status of the "integrated outsider" (Simmel), which becomes visible when looking at the novel's literary depictions of space(s).
The project looks at European traditions of representing poverty such as voluntary poverty, the imperative for charity, mysticism, taking into account selected modern texts by Baudelaire, Rilke, and Hamsun. With a focus on recent processes of globalization, I map out how the metaphorical and/or 'real' spaces assigned to the poor have been altered within the last century. Is it possible to narrate poverty? Are there different modes of representation used to describe 'relative poverty' compared to 'absolute poverty' and is it possible for 'the poor' to represent themselves by literary means? Can literature express a critique of the present capitalist market when it is traded as a commodity on the same market? My project aims to address these questions drawing back on postcolonial theory, theory of space and new economic criticism.

Short CV

Since 2014 Scholarship of the Evangelisches Studienwerk Villingst

Since 2013 PhD Candidate at the Research Training Group

2013: M.A. Comparative Literature, Free University Berlin

2008: B.A. Comparative Literature and Film Studies, Free University Berlin


"Zwischenwelten. Raum, Identität und Herkunft in Miriam Steins Berlin – Seoul – Berlin". In: Miriam Kanne (Hg.): Provisorische und Transiträume. Raumerfahrung 'Nicht-Ort', Berlin: LIT, 2013, S. 151-170.

with Nina Peter: "Seing (the) eyes of the other. Images of the poor in Charles Baudelaire and Frank McCourt". In: Veronika Bernard, Serhan Oksay (eds.): IMAGES (II). Images of the Poor, Berlin: LIT Verlag, 2013, S. 223-235.

"'Es la crisis'. Globale Märkte und erzählte Armut in Rafael Chirbes' Roman En la Orilla". In: Stiemer, Haimo, Dominic Büker und Esteban Sanchino Martinez: Social Turn? Das Soziale in der gegenwärtigen Literatur(-wissenschaft). Weilerswirst: Velbrück Wissenschaft, 2017.