Architectures of the Soul
A Travel-Guide to Inner Realms (Julia Weber)
In my project, “Architectures of the Soul: A Travel-Guide to Inner Realms”, I explore some of the images and metaphors through which poets and philosophers have imagined inner realms across different time periods, from late antiquity to postmodernity. In the first chapters of my book, I focus on pre-modern descriptions of interiority, analyzing allegorical descriptions of the “struggle of the Soul” in Prudentius’ Psychomachia, as well as imaginary explorations of inner chambers of the soul in Teresa of Avila’s Castillo Interior. The majority of the study, however, is concerned with modern “Architectures of the Soul”.
I argue that, instead of merely furnishing a backdrop for the narrative, the spatial setting often becomes an agent of the story itself in modern literature, providing important keys to understanding its characters. Be it the romantic landscapes in Eichendorff or Novalis, the decaying castles in Poe or the claustrophobic interiors in Beckett, the feelings and emotions of literary figures have frequently been represented since the eighteenth century through spatial configurations.
Drawing on the theoretical insights offered by the so-called “spatial turn”, I analyze different modes of spatial representation in the work of authors ranging from Goethe, Brentano, E.T.A. Hoffmann and Stifter to modern and postmodern writers like Kafka, Beckett and Danielewski. Each chapter of my “travel-guide” leads the reader through a distinct imaginary place and explores how different spatial constructions produce different selves.