Media, Modernity and Dynamic Plants in Early 20th Century German Culture

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In Media, Modernity and Dynamic Plants, Janet Janzen traces the motif of the “dynamic plant” through film and literature in early 20th century German culture. Often discussed solely as symbols or metaphors of the human experience, plants become here the primary focus and their role in literature and film is extended beyond their symbolic function.

Plants have been (and still are) seen as closer to static objects than to living, moving beings. Making use of examples from film and literature, Janet Janzen demonstrates a shift in the perception of plants-as-objects to plants-as-living-beings that can be attributed to new technology and also to the return of Romantic and Vitalistic discourses on nature.
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Biographical Note

Janet Janzen, Ph.D. (2014), is an instructor of German Studies and is currently affiliated with the University of Manitoba, Canada. She has given many presentations on nature and plants in media.

Review Quotes

"With its forty illustrations, bibliography, index, and English translations of original German citations, Janzen's book is an invaluable resource not only to scholars in German studies but to anyone across the disciplines with an interest in the nascent field of plant studies." --Alice Kuzniar, (University of Waterloo) Seminar: A Journal for Germanic Studies, Vol. 54, No.1 (2018).

Table of contents

Introduction
Chapter 1: Flying Plants: Imaginary Media as a Model for Representing the Plant Soul in Kurd Lasswitz’s Sternentau: Die Pflanze vom Neptunsmond (1909)
Chapter 2: Animating Glass: Representing the Elusive Plant Soul in Paul Scheerbart's “Flora Mohr: eine Glasblumen-Novelle” (1909)
Chapter 3: Empathetic Media: Film and the “Gestures” of Plants in Das Blumenwunder (1926)
Chapter 4: The Radical Other: The Metamorphosis of Humans and Animals into Plants in Gustav Meyrink's “Die Pflanzen des Doktor Cinderella” (1905)
Chapter 5: The Plant Bites!: Deviant Plants in Nosferatu and Alraune as Metaphors for Social Instability in Weimar Culture
Conclusion
Works Cited
Index

Readership

All interested in the humanities field of plant studies and anyone concerned with early German film history and science fiction.

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