German & Russian Studies Events

4:30pm - 6:00pm
Alpern Room (LN 2200)
Alexander Sorenson will discuss his new book, The Waiting Water: Order, Sacrifice, and Submergence in German Realism, with Michael Lipkin (Hamilton College).

The Waiting Water addresses one of the most recurrent and troubling motifs in German Realist literature—death by drowning. Characters find themselves before bodies of water, presented with the familiar realm above the surface and the unobservable, uncanny domain beneath it. With somber regularity, they then disappear into the depths. Alexander Sorenson explores the role that these hidden deaths in water play within a literary movement that set out precisely to reveal universal truths about human life. The poetics of submergence, he argues, revolve around two concepts fundamental to Poetic Realism—order and sacrifice.

Focusing on texts by Adalbert Stifter, Gottfried Keller, Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach, and Theodor Storm, along with material from earlier and later epochs, The Waiting Water shows that the pervasive symbolism of drowning scenes in German Realism, which typically occur in zones of narrative invisibility on the social periphery, reveals the extent to which realist narrative uses the natural environment to work through deeply embedded and hidden tensions that troubled the social and moral life of the age.

Open to the public.