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Palgrave Macmillan

On Literary Plasticity

Readings with Kafka in Ecology, Voice, and Object-Life

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  • © 2020


  • Provides a short history of plastic and plasticity
  • Addresses translation studies, object life, and ecocriticism
  • Introduces a theory of literary plasticity

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Table of contents (5 chapters)


About this book

On Literary Plasticity: Readings with Kafka in Ecology, Voice, and Object-Life calls to Franz Kafka, and in particular ‘Die Sorge des Hausvaters’, for aid in charting the long reach of plastic on the human mind and world. In this book, Heather H. Yeung builds a past and future ecology of plastic, arguing that it is through a deep reading of literature that we can begin to understand more clearly what it is that plastic means to us today, asking, under the auspices of the idea of literary plasticity: what are the true depths of our twenty-first-century fascination with plastic? How did we become so entangled? How can we come to a better understanding of plastic’s role in our imagination, our environment, and our lives? What can literature teach us in this respect? Why should we care? 



“This book dwells with Kafka’s Kurzprosa to elucidate the plastic processes of reading and encourage a deeper understanding of ‘the hold that plastic exerts on us’ … . On Literary Plasticity offers an elegant contribution to German studies and ecocriticism alike. … Yeung’s study offers rich content to kafka scholars searching for new readings of Die sorge des Hausvatersand to critics fascinated by literary plasticity.” (Paul Sutherland Sherban, Modern Language Review, Vol. 117 (2), April, 2022) “On Literary Plasticity: Readings with Kafka in Ecology, Voice, and Object-Life is incredibly well-researched and clearly written, structured such that Kafka becomes a compelling way of thinking through plasticity. Yeung offers a new theory of the literary object, creating a study that is ultimately a work of literary and cultural theory as much as it is a book on Kafka.”

Claire Colebrook, Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of English, Philosophy, and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Pennsylvania State University, USA


“The experience of reading this short monograph is discovering a plastic oikos that is fervent, fierce, and fecund. Drop in Kafka, plastic imagination, entanglement, the non-linearity of thinking, and the teeming possibilities emerging from a plastic milieu, the space sets up an enthralling journey in literary plasticity. The plastic hauntings are deep and pervasive.”

—Ranjan Ghosh, University of North Bengal, India,and co-author (with J. Hillis Miller) of Thinking Literature across Continents (2016) and author of The Plastic Turn (forthcoming)

Authors and Affiliations

  • University of Dundee, Dundee, UK

    Heather H. Yeung

About the author

Heather H. Yeung is Lecturer in English and Creative Writing in the School of Humanities, University of Dundee, UK. She is also the author of Spatial Engagement with Poetry (Palgrave 2015).


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