Beyond Identity: Romanticism and Decreation

Caspar David Friedrich. 'Der Mönch am Meer' 1808-1810 (detail)
Caspar David Friedrich. ‘Der Mönch am Meer’ 1808-1810 (detail) Alte Nationalgalerie. Public domain


Beyond Identity: Romanticism and Decreation uses Simon Weil’s concept of decreation in order to frame an approach to Romanticism that moves beyond the concerns with self and identity that have occupied traditional and even more progressive accounts of the field. Decreation foregrounds the materiality of a political life in the here and now, whilst nevertheless insisting that we remain open to that which remains elusive and resistant to all attempts to bring it into presence. According to Weil and the writers whose works I examine in this project, the withdrawal from structures of sovereign power that are intrinsic to the formation of identities allows an activity of worlding that releases us from the cyclical forms of violence that have been seen to underwrite some of the most terrible atrocities of history. For these writers, decreation not only questions formalised modes of identity politics, it allows new ways of being in the world, both ethically and politically, thus engendering new forms of relationality and co-existence.


Dr Phil Habil Jennifer Wawrzinek, Freie Universität Berlin