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Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type


Degree Program

Comparative Literature

Degree Type

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



In the wake of the industrialization, urbanization, and global conflicts of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Europe was forced to call into question its Enlightenment faith. In particular, Bildung—as the cultural education of the individual that emerged out of the Enlightenment—lost its footing amidst experience’s new texture of trauma. This thesis will examine Rilke’s Duineser Elegien, Proust’s Du côté de chez Swann, and Michaux’s Misérable miracle as each work pertains to and reconceives of the intertwining of Bildung and elegy, as a literary form both underpinned by and unconvinced of Bildung. For them, I will argue, elegy served as a potential form for re-writing historical indifference and for preparing, through limit-experience and loss, linguistic antidotes for the elision of difference produced in history’s wake.


First Advisor

Jim Hicks

Second Advisor

María Soledad Barbón

Third Advisor

Dianne Sears