EXC 2060 A3-7 - Figures of Hate. Prolegomena to a Literary and Cultural History

in Process
Funding Source
DFG - Cluster of Excellence
Project Number
EXC 2060/1
  • Description

    In today’s public debates and against the backdrop of far-reaching geopolitical changes and fundamental social and religious tensions, the word ‘hate' has gained a significant presence and new topicality. Public talk is of ‘hatemongers,’ ‘hateful comments,’ ‘hate mail,’ etc.; there is even discussion about the normalization of hate. This project investigates the discursive functions of hate from a historical as well as from a theoretical perspective not so much by asking what hate ‘is,’ but by focusing on the role of attributions of hate in specific historical and cultural contexts. In doing so it also considers approaches of psychological and affect theory. The project considers hate as a complex social relation: Attributors of hate are themselves part of a social hate relation. The relationship of hate with comparable affects such as rage and wrath will be discussed as well. Significantly, the attribution of hate very often refers to love either as an opposite emotion or as an emotion closely connected to hate (‘love-hate’). The preferred medium to reflect the cultural, social and religious functions of hate is literature. The theatrical stage especially offers itself to effective hate performances. This leads to the question of how the ethics of artistic stagings of hate are related to the hate discourses that refer to ‘reality.’ The project’s goal is to compose a literary and cultural history of hate that sets off with the literature of antiquity and the Bible, proceeds via early modern time, the wars of liberation at the beginning of the 19th century, modernity and postmodernity, up to the conflicts of our time.
  • Persons

  • Dissertations

    Hanna Clara Pulpanek, M.A. | M.Ed.


    Doctoral Thesis

    Nathan's Hate. On the Reception of Lessing's Nathan the Wise in Contemporary Drama

    Prof. Dr. Martina Wagner-Egelhaaf
    Doctoral Subject
    Graduate School Practices of Literature
    Targeted Doctoral Degree
    Dr. phil.
    Awarded by
    Department 09 – Philologies
    Nathan’s Hate: On the Reception of Lessing’s Nathan the Wise in Contemporary Drama. In current times, the religious violence and hatred that manifests in, for example, anti-Semitic, far-right or Islamist attacks, play a huge role in political and social discussions. Considering this, the enlightened play Nathan the Wise by G.E. Lessing is as relevant today as it was during the 18th century. Accordingly, current dramatists are giving renewed attention to Nathan’s story although they are reframing the characters and plot within many different settings. Nevertheless, one thing the contemporary plays generally do have in common is that they contrast the established picture of Nathan as a play of tolerance, reconciliation and love by giving space to hatred and violence between their characters. This emotional focus reflects a phenomenon that is occurring in public discourse with increasing frequency as terms like ‘hate comment’, ‘hate crime’, ‘hate preaching’ or ‘hate speech’ seem to serve as diagnosis of a present social state. This project examines the emotional dynamics of love and hate between the characters in both Lessing’s drama and in current plays. The analysis explores the productive and receptive tension between the current plays and their literary model and seeks to explain how the texts are embedded within current emotional and religious discourses.