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Allegories of Cultural Relations: Anne Duden’s Reading of Representations of St. George and the Dragon in Der Wunde Punkt im Alphabet

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Teresa Ludden


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This article examines Anne Duden's literary-philosophical text 'Gegenstrebige Fügung' in the light of Frankfurt School and feminist theories. It argues that Duden blurs the distinction between legend and myth in her writing about Vittore Carpaccio's paintings of St George and the Dragon to read the representation of the battle between man and dragon as illustrative of founding myths of Western Enlightenment culture. These include the emancipation of reason from nature, the belief in progress, and the privileging of mind and the autonomous subject over the object and matter. The essay examines Duden's mode of reading representations of the myth of the victory of good over evil as a disingenuous narrative which covers up what such representations actually produce: a discourse about normality and abnormality and about the types of selves, bodies and values which are privileged by Western culture. Duden's reading de-mystifies traditional ways of interpreting St George's story in line with recent poststructuralist theory. However, rather than standard psychoanalytic readings of the story in which the dragon represents sexuality and femininity which needs to be repressed, I analyse Duden's more radical 'Kulturkritik' through her evocation of mechanisms of exclusion and the creation of binary oppositions as a prerequisite for the survival of culture and its myths and as a necessity for a repetition of culture's dominant narratives. The double sight that art allows, however, means that it functions in Duden's readings as a privileged realm where the forgotten and excluded may be remembered. Thus a reading against the grain becomes possible, activating alternative meanings.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Ludden T

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: German Life and Letters

Year: 2004

Volume: 57

Issue: 1

Pages: 69-90

ISSN (print): 0016-8777

ISSN (electronic): 1468-0483

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.


DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-0483.2004.00271.x


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