Prof. Dr. Johannes Lehmann
Johannes F. Lehmann has been Professor of Modern German Literature and Cultural Studies at the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität in Bonn since 2014. He received his doctorate in Freiburg with the thesis "Der Blick durch die Wand. Zur Geschichte des Theaterzuschauers und des Visuellen bei Diderot und Lessing." Freiburg i. Br. 2000; Habilitation in Duisburg-Essen: "Im Abgrund der Wut. Zur Kultur- und Literaturgeschichte des Zorns". Freiburg i. Br. 2012 (Rombach: Litterae 107). Main areas of research: Literature of the 18th and 19th centuries, cultural and literary studies on the genealogy of modernity: theatre, anthropology, law, anger, life-saving, history of the ‘present’.
- “Leben, Arbeit, Tod – zur literarischen Bedeutung von Dingen und Steinen bei Homer, Schiller, Flaubert und Kafka”, in: Res und Verba. Zu den Narrativen der Dinge, ed. by Alexander Kling, Martina Werrnli (Freiburg i. Br., 2018), pp. 225–240.
- Aktualität. Zur Geschichte literarischer Gegenwartsbezüge vom 17. bis zum 21. Jahrhundert, ed. by Stefan Geyer, Johannes F. Lehmann (Hannover: Wehrhahn, 2018)
- Die biologische Vorgeschichte des Menschen. Zu einem Schnittpunkt von Erzählordnung und Wissensformation, ed. by Johannes F. Lehmann, Roland Borgards, Maximilian Bergengruen (Freiburg i. Br.: Rombach, 2012)
- Sexualität, Recht, Leben. Zur Entstehung eines Dispositivs um 1800, ed. by Maximilian Bergengruen, Johannes F. Lehmann, Hubert Thüring (Munich: Wilhelm Fink, 2005)
Research project: Labor Force/Gravity - or: Lifting Stones
The project is concerned with the concept and matter of the 'labour force' and its (literary) representation and (theoretical) reflection with regard to the weight and heaviness of stones. The question to be asked is how and in what context the concept of 'force' is coupled with that of 'work'. In the context of the parallelizations of nature and morality typical of Enlightenment anthropology, the scientific concepts of force (Newton, Blumenbach) are increasingly applied to the overall balance of human powers and abilities: energy, vitality, formative power, thinking power, power of feeling, nerve-force, tensioning force etc. However, the concept of labour force is initially missing and only becomes relevant in legal and economic contexts in connection with statehood in the course of the 19th century.
The concept of force, as it characterized the anthropology of the late 18th century, no longer refers to a mere capacity, a mere ability (such as the imagination or the power of imagination), but - quite analogous to the concept of life itself - an energy of overcoming resistance. This aspect is central to the emergence of the concept of labour force and is derived on the one hand from the models of gravity that are transferred to humans and on the other hand from the self-reference of the feeling of one's own power discovered in the later 18th century. Exercising power in the form of self-referential perception in feeling (“Selbst-Gefühl”) also becomes an element of the doctrine of happiness: "Striving for a goal and achieving this goal with the effort of physical and moral forces is the basis of the happiness of a spry, powerful person” (Humboldt). This puts pressure on the imperative to increase forces and the organisation of labour in a way that calls into question the Enlightenment itself. The question of which forces are produced and used in what way and what forms of (self-referential) reward are given to them leads to the insight that, as Schiller's says in his “Geisterseher”, the slaves carried the "stones to the pyramids", but only the kings enjoy the sight of the pyramid. The heavy stone is the paradigm of resistance, by which labour force is measured and thus makes it appear as an energy of overcoming resistance, which is used up in the effort to earn a living.
On the basis of theoretical and literary texts, the question of force and labour in relation to the act of lifting stones and the representation of work and force will be examined.
Research results: Labor Force/Gravity - or: Lifting Stones
The concepts of gravity and 'labour' are specifically modern concepts. They have developed only in the 19th century, in a mutual coupling, which was fundamental for the definition of the concept of (physical) force as well as for the conceptualization of the economically usable labor power of humans and animals. The coupling of work and force in the concept of 'labor power', which has not been investigated or questioned so far, as well as the virulence of the concept in physics and in economics, but also in the physiology of movement, senses and nutrition of the 19th century, can only be explained at all against the background of a fundamental transformation in the use of the concept of force around 1800. The prerequisite is, this is the central result of my research within the framework of my fellowship at the CAS , the immigration of the concept of gravity or gravitation into anthropological reflections and the self-image of man as an obstacle-overcoming, living subject of force. Against this background, the modern, abstracting concept of 'labour power' in its blending of economy, physiology, physics and life becomes plausible. The results are published in my essay: Force of Gravity/Power of Labour - or: Heaving Stones. In: Thomas Moser, Wilma Scheschonk (eds.): Strained Bodies. Physical Tension in Art and Science, which will be published in 2022.