Franz Kafkas Die Verwandlung als Metapher für Transgender-Erfahrung

Anchit Sathi


Despite an unmistakable rise in transgender criticism within the humanities in recent years, transgender-themed readings of German literary texts, in particular, still remain relatively sparse. This essay attempts to modestly address this gap in the scholarship by turning to Franz Kafka’s canonical novella Die Verwandlung. By focusing on the central predicament of the novella’s protagonist Gregor Samsa—the fact that he finds himself in a body that he does not identify with—the essay proposes that Samsa serves as a poignant metaphor for transgender individuals. Through this approach, the essay shines the spotlight on the quotidian and ordinary forms of violence suffered by so many transgender individuals across the world. It also highlights how the received epistemologies of gender in the humanities—and especially Judith Butler’s notion of gender performativity—only provide largely inadequate accounts of transgender ontology and embodiment. (AS)

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