Friedrich Schiller: Crime, Aesthetics, and the Poetics of Punishment

Friedrich Schiller: Crime, Aesthetics, and the Poetics of Punishment

Friedrich Schiller: Crime, Aesthetics, and the Poetics of Punishment

Friedrich Schiller: Crime, Aesthetics, and the Poetics of Punishment

Synopsis

Schiller's fascination with crime and criminals is well-documented, but relatively little scholarship exists on his engagement with punishment, either as state-sponsored retribution or as a neutralizing gesture intended to restore pre-crime equilibrium. While pointing to new ways of receiving and reacting to crime in his dramas, fiction, and theoretical essays. Schiller exposes retributive punishment as an inadequate answer to the complex phenomenon of the criminal. By discrediting retribution, Schiller intervenes in both political and aesthetic debates as he dispenses with the legal and aesthetic balance, so capably expressed by Kant: If he has murdered, then he must die. The balance, re-ordering, or regularity achieved by adequately punishing an offender are here related to the instinct for harmony that governs eighteenth-century notions of beauty and it is the affinity between the pursuit of symmetry in social penal discourse and the symmetry that pleases or satisfies the -aesthetic spectator/reader that forms the background of this inquiry.
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