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The Case of LiteratureForensic Narratives from Goethe to Kafka$
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Arne Höcker

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781501749353

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501749353.001.0001

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The Drama of the Case

The Drama of the Case

Making the Case of Woyzeck

(p.114) 6 The Drama of the Case
The Case of Literature

Arne Höcker

Cornell University Press

This chapter focuses on Georg Büchner's Woyzeck (1837), which, based on an early case of legal responsibility, expounds the problem of judgment in the medical-legal context by staging the case as a dramatic ensemble of scenes of observation. The procedures leading up to the confirmation of the murderer Johann Christian Woyzeck's death sentence shape what was to be known as the Woyzeck case. By commissioning Dr. Clarus as a medical expert, the legal case, which was about the societal sanction of a criminal act, became a case of quite a different nature. The question that Dr. Clarus attempts to answer is not about the deed and its particular circumstances, but about the personality of the perpetrator and his motives. The document to which Büchner's Woyzeck refers verbatim is the second report that Dr. Clarus provided and that he published twice within only one year. The chapter argues that the canonical drama Woyzeck, based on the Woyzeck of the Clarus report, is essentially about the making of the case.

Keywords:   Georg Büchner, legal responsibility, Johann Christian Woyzeck, medical expert, medical-legal context, Woyzeck case, Clarus report, legal case

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