In: KulturPoetik 2018, Heft 2


Nils C. Ritter


Die Peripetie der Dinge. Heinrich von Kleist, Bruno Latour und die Relativierung des menschlichen Handlungsprivilegs.




Actor-network theory (ANT) describes all entities within a network on the same terms and undoes the hierarchy in the relationship between subject and object. Hence, nothing exists outside of constantly shifting networks of relationships in both the social and natural world. There are no external social forces beyond what and how the network participants interact at a given time. Thus, objects, ideas, processes, and any other relevant factors are seen as equally important as human beings in creating social situations. Heinrich von Kleist was one of the first German authors, if not the first, to discover the material potential, dynamics, and agency of objects. In his novellas, especially Michael Kohlhaas, he anticipates approaches of ANT, including, among others, Bruno Latour’s ideas on agency, assemblage, object, and society.