Christiane Frey holds degrees in French, Comparative, and German Literatures from the University of Paris IV/Sorbonne (MA) and the University of Bonn (PhD). She was a fellow of the German National Endowment (DFG), taught at the Universities of Bonn, Giessen, Konstanz, as assistant professor at the Universities of Chicago and Princeton, and most recently as associate professor at New York University. She has conducted research as visiting scholar at the Universities Konstanz and the Humboldt University of Berlin. Frey’s research interests focus on early modern and eighteenth-century German literature in the European context. Other foci concern histories and theories of aesthetics and the sciences, philosophy, and theo-politics.

Her recent publications include Laune. Poetiken der Selbstsorge von Montaigne bis Tieck [Mood: Poetics of Self-Care from Montaigne to Tieck] (2016) and the co-edited volume (with Elisabeth Bronfen and David Martyn) Noch einmal anders. Zu einer Poetik des Seriellen [Once Again, Differently: Toward a Poetics of Seriality] (2016). She has co-edited a volume (with Uwe Hebekus and David Martyn) on the theory and history of secularization: Säkularisierung. Grundlagentexte zur Theoriegeschichte [The History and Theory of Secularization: Foundational Texts] (2020). At the ICI Berlin, she was conducting research for a book-length study on theo-political temporalities of the Baroque mourning play.

The Time in Parenthesis:
Theo-Politics in the Baroque Mourning Play

ICI Project 2017-19

Taking Andreas Gryphius’s tragedies or ‘mourning plays’ as its point of departure, this project reexamines the theo-political dimensions of Baroque temporality. Gryphius has long served as the main representative of an apocalyptic conception of time said to characterize the Baroque. Against this view, my project marks out a time in several Baroque mourning plays that is structured, as it were, katechontically: that ‘time of the interim’ the preservation of which is the function of the Biblical figure of the katéchon (literally, the ‘delayer’), who delays the coming of the Day of Judgment. At once political and theological, the time of the katéchon is of indeterminate value: it can be seen both as something whose end should be hastened and as something one should work to preserve. The study sees in this ambiguity a key to the potential and significance of katechontic time for questions of political theology.

The project proceeds in three movements: it examines the temporal structure of the ‘interval’ and the ‘delay’ in their dramaturgical, rhetorical, and grammatical dimensions — such as noteworthy uses of parentheses — in plays of Gryphius, Shakespeare, Vondel, and Corneille; relates this logic to a new temporality that emerges in the context of early modern astronomy; and sets out the implications for contemporary theoretical analyses of political-theological temporality. It thus positions itself both as an archeology of a specific form of time and as a critical theory of a theo-political remainder in an (as it were) erring modernity.