Collections > Electronic Theses and Dissertations > At a Loss for Words: Nonverbal Communication in Kleist's "Über die allmähliche Verfertigung der Gedanken beim Reden," "Michael Kohlhaas," and "Der Findlin"

This thesis examines instances of nonverbal communication in three works of Heinrich von Kleist. Once viewed outside the context of authentic communication, nonverbal signs expose structures within his texts. These structures reveal previously overlooked conflicts and character dynamics. The first chapter explores the essay Über die allmähliche Verfertigung der Gedanken beim Reden, and demonstrates that Kleist's model of successful speech acts as an implicit dialogue and consists of nonverbal cues performed the speech recipient. The second chapter extends this analysis to Michael Kohlhaas, whose protagonist is gradually exiled into a nonverbal condition. The third chapter examines the nonverbal elements in Der Findling, particularly glancing, and claims that through nonverbal acts characters previously thought of as passive play an additional active role.