GRST 251 – Kafka: Literature, Law, and Power

Elias Canetti claimed that among all writers, Kafka was “the greatest expert on power.” In this course we will focus on Kafka’s narratives of power relations. We will read and discuss Kafka’s sometimes painfully precise descriptions of how power is exerted in the family and in personal relationships and how scrutiny and discipline are exercised over the body. We will also consider Kafka’s depictions of physical violence and of apparatuses and institutions of power and the ethical and political implications of these depictions. The working hypothesis of this course is that Kafka not only tells stories about power, but that his stories also contain an implicit theory of how power works in modern society.

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