Critique as Counterproduction: Repair Work in Alexander Kluge

Jörg Kreienbrock*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This essay investigates the notion of counterproduction in the writings of Alexander Kluge. In Kongs große Stunde (2015), Kluge identifies counterproduction as an essentially reparative practice. It combines a constructive ethos of care with the deconstructive attitude of critique. In this sense, repair work as counterproduction offers a model to overcome the age-old dichotomies of theory and praxis, as well as analysis and synthesis. As a form of critical labor of intelligence, it also offers a new perspective on current debates on the value of critique in the humanities in general and literary studies in particular. The objects of (literary) critique transform from matters of fact into matters of concern. Repair workers like the engineer or the bricoleur are attentive to the precariousness of all artifacts. For them, (literary) objects are in constant need of care. They (re-)construct and maintain integrity and functionality by (re-)assembling seemingly random and heterogeneous elements in an open-ended process, thus producing the poetic vision of a future not based on the demands of Capitalist production but on counterproductive repair work.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)315-325
Number of pages11
JournalGermanic Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2023


  • criticism
  • Kluge
  • repair work

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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