Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Prof. Sebastian Wogenstein, Prof. Anke Finger

Field of Study

Literatures, Cultures & Languages


Master of Arts

Open Access

Campus Access


The name Franz Kafka (1883-1924) brings with it many attached meanings and connotations, pointing towards his enigmatic writing style and stressful, at times chaotic, life. A writer of the stature of Kafka remains of vital interest to both literary scholars and more general readers, even though his stories began appearing over 100 years ago. Much like the situation in which Kafka found himself writing in, readers today experience that inevitable striving forward which the world cannot seem to grasp or comprehend. Kafka’s adult life, set in early twentieth century Europe, was one marked by profound technological and social change. An age characterized by the emergence of the radio, the airplane, the automobile, and shortly thereafter, the film. A century later, the pace of technological change seems to be unfathomably rapid, with all information now at the touch of a fingertip through the internet, and phones which seem to have come straight out of a science-fiction movie. For the very same reason Kafka found it necessary to write during his time, we find him necessary to read today. The self, and self-identity, are malleable, ever-changing concepts, in which contextual and environmental forces play a large role. The objects of Kafka’s literary attention remain pertinent for the modern self in 1912 as they do today, with the focus turning toward the alienating qualities of modern life, the increasingly labyrinth-like machinery of the modern state, and changing expectations of family, and societal, roles and responsibilities.

Major Advisor

Prof. Katharina von Hammerstein