Jakob von Uexküll’s Umwelt theory in literary analysis on the example of Leonie Swann’s detective story “Three Bags Full”

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Title: Jakob von Uexküll’s Umwelt theory in literary analysis on the example of Leonie Swann’s detective story “Three Bags Full”
Author: Mänty, Sandra
Other contributor: Helsingin yliopisto, Humanistinen tiedekunta, Filosofian, historian, kulttuurin ja taiteiden tutkimuksen laitos
University of Helsinki, Faculty of Arts, Department of Philosophy, History, Culture and Art Studies
Helsingfors universitet, Humanistiska fakulteten, Institutionen för filosofi, historia, kultur- och konstforskning
Publisher: Helsingfors universitet
Date: 2015
Language: eng
URI: http://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi:hulib-201512023882
Thesis level: master's thesis
Discipline: Comparative Literature
Yleinen kirjallisuustiede
Allmän litteraturvetenskap
Abstract: This master’s thesis with the title JAKOB VON UEXKÜLL’S UMWELT THEORY IN LITERARY ANALYSIS ON THE EXAMPLE OF LEONIE SWANN’S DETECTIVE STORY ”THREE BAGS FULL” uses the Umwelt theory of Jakob von Uexküll (1864-1944) for the analysis of animals in fiction. As the text example it uses the novel “Three Bags Full” by German author Leonie Swann (*1975). The aim of the thesis is to establish a shift in the analysis of animals in fiction. Instead of treating animals as replacements for human characters or as mere symbols, a focus on animals as own entities with a real, biological exemplar is aimed at. The thesis starts with an introduction to the text example and its author. The text example is then placed into the literary canon. In addition it shows the signification sheep have received through literary history and demonstrates the problem that sheep have lost their animal character. Following field of zoosemiotics is briefly introduced as is the biologist Jakob von Uexküll. His Umwelt concept is subsequently explain in more detail and its application in and contribution to literary analysis presented. Concluding the analyses the novel “Three Bags Full” using von Uexküll’s theory is conducted in order to show the real animal character of the sheep in the novel. The claim that the author deliberately chose to write about real-life animals is proven. Additionally the functionality of Umwelt theory to provide humans with a balanced, meaningful tool to investigate animals in art is provided.
Subject: zoosemiotiikka
Umwelt teoria
von Uexküll, Jacob
Animals in fiction
sheep in fiction
Umwelt theory

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