Boundaries constitute a key concept in Romanticism: their transgression, their elimination, but also their reconstruction. By analyzing the triad of sign, subject, and space, this study provides a comprehensive analysis of boundaries in German, English, and American Romanticism. Its trans-epochal approach reveals a shared dynamic of a multiplicity of heterogeneous boundary phenomena ranging from the late 18th century to postmodern Romantic texts and constructs a model for the examination of limits: a theory of a-limitation.
The known concept of the transgressive Romantic subject is integrated into this triadic model whose primordial site of a-limitation, however, is the semiotics of Romanticism. With a creative theoretical design that allows the reader to survey readings of individual texts as well as broader theoretical frameworks, "Liminal Semiotics" offers a new perspective on a variety of literary texts and theories ranging from Novalis and Coleridge to Melville and finally to Deleuze and Guattari.
The thesis was awarded the Ernst-Reuter-Prize 2012 for outstanding dissertations at Freie Universität Berlin.