Year of Graduation


Level of Access

Open Access Thesis

Embargo Period


Department or Program


First Advisor

Jill Smith

Second Advisor

Jens Klenner


In this project, I investigate Franz Kafka’s Die Verwandlung (1915) and Marlen Haushofer’s Die Wand (1963) through a magic realist interpretive strategy. I identify how, as a result of a mysterious opening premise, the two texts accomplish a human/animal transformation in the protagonists. While the transformations differ in several aspects, even at times being direct opposites, the way in which the characters navigate their new nonhuman selves poses many important questions about care and humaneness, the human condition, and social and familial structures. By drawing on discussions of magic realism – from its roots in Weimar German art criticism, its contemporary features in literature, and the inherently subversive nature of the narrative mode – I discuss how the lens of magic realism becomes a helpful tool in recognizing, exploring, and appreciating the human/animal transformations as a defamiliarization of the familiar.