Literary Advocates: The Rhetoric and Poetics of Speaking-For in Franz Kafka


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships


German Studies


This dissertation examines in how far "Fürsprache" (advocacy)—the triangulated scene of speaking for somebody (or a group) before somebody (or a group)—is a constitutive device in and around the writings of Franz Kafka (1883-1924). It argues that the rhetorical figure of "Fürsprache," with roots in the legal-rhetorical, sociopolitical, and religious spheres, is a form of communication that manifests itself in the narrative structure, characters, and topics of his literature. Via careful contextualization and close readings starting with a text that Max Brod entitled "Fürsprecher," the project elucidates three fundamental issues: delegated speech in connection with authorship, the nexus between legal-political and narrative representation, and advocacy as a mode of institutionalizing literature.