Avant-garde and literary creation in the German-speaking area from 1945 to the present (Germanica magazine)

germanica No. 74/2024

Call for papers

Avant-garde and literary creation in the German-speaking area from 1945 to the present day

(dir. Irène Cagneau)

At the end of their book dedicated to the Austrian avant-garde after 1945[1], Thomas Eder and Klaus Kastberger publish statements from writers about their relationship with the avant-garde. You can, for example, read informative texts by Kurt Palm, Milo Dor, Friedrich Achleitner, Barbara Frischmuth, Ferdinand Schmatz, Elfriede Czurda or Heimrad Bäcker on the subject. Barbara Frischmuth, founding member of the Forum Stadtpark in Graz in 1959, explains that the avant-garde of the 1950s and 1960s was for her a powerful gesture of liberation, a breath of fresh air against the yoke that held Austrian cultural and intellectuals at the time life:

Ende der 50er und Anfang der 60er Jahre, as ich Gründungsmitglied des Forum Stadtpark wurde und zum ersten Mal in der Zeitschrift handwritten Text published, bedeutete mir der Begriff Avantgarde wirklich etwas. Auf das Muffige, Biedere og Verlogene am damaligen Österreich konnen nur mit ener Anzahl von Befreiungsschlägen antwortet were, was für meine person in erster Linie Literatur, Literatur and noch einmal Literatur bedeutete.[2]

If the avant-garde for Barbara Frischmuth was initially synonymous with progress and emancipation within a collective movement, the notion gradually lost its positive resonance, appearing in the author’s eyes as a standardized and elitist concept, but also as an obstacle to literary creation, especially due to of its constant “commitment to innovation” (Innovation Zwang)[3]. Barbara Frischmuth provides here a symptomatic account of the ambivalence in certain authors’ relationship with the avant-garde. If some claim it, claim its influence and heritage, play with its codes and its traditions, the others are indifferent to it or reject it, judging the elitist notion, outdated or ineffective.

A review of the works published on the subject during the last twenty years shows that the publications still today in the vast majority concentrate on the avant-gardes from the years 1910-1930, especially on Expressionism, Futurism, Dada or Surrealism[4]. It therefore seems relevant to us in connection with issue 74 of the journal germanicato question and test the notion of avant-garde in literary creation after 1945, a period in which there are fewer publications[5]. The enterprise is complex, as the avant-garde – with few exceptions – is not in this period defined by constituted groups that put themselves on stage and expose themselves through collective manifestos, thus giving rise to currents identified and “branded”.[6] “, but more by practice, various experiments, spread over the German-speaking area, the main characteristics of which are the transgression of norms and genres, radicalism, hybridity, the materiality of literature, performative actions (events, performances, visual and sound installations, etc.) and “the -semanticization” (De-Semantization), i.e. dismantling, if not erasing, traditional semantic structures[7].

In order to contribute to a common reflection on the relationship between the avant-garde and literature in the considered period, the submitted articles may relate to one or more of the following themes:

– the relationship with a writer, a writer’s avant-garde (imprint, influence, claimed legacy, negation, rejection);

– the relationship of particular “groups” to the concept of avant-garde (eg Wiener Gruppe and Stuttgarter Gruppe in the 1950s or the literary scene of Prenzlauer Berg in the GDR in the 1970s-1980s). By what criteria can these “groups” be qualified as avant-gardes? And by whom? What was the attitude of the members of the various groups and scenes towards this (attempted) “labeling”? ;

– cartographic analysis of circulations, networks, interconnections from one author to another, from one group to another, from one country to another. Such an analysis would undoubtedly favor a “decentering[8] » of look at the literary avant-garde and would make it possible to focus not only on the best-known groups (eg Wiener Gruppe);

– the role of periodicals in the dissemination of so-called “avant-garde” aesthetic and literary innovations (e.g. Level by Otto Basil, Futura by Hansjörg Mayer, handwritten by Alfred Kolleritsch and Günter Waldorf, protocol by Otto Breicha and Gerhard Fritsch, new text by Heimrad Bäcker);

– the notions of radicality and transcendence;

– the notions of intermediality and hybridity: we can, among other things, be interested in sound poetry, concrete poetry, acoustic art, performative acts such as eventsperformances or even kinetic poetry and ultramodern literary experiments, strongly linked to the development of digital technology and new technologies (Hypertext, Computer art, digital literatureetc.) ;

– To what extent do these writers/journals/artistic productions contain a critical reflection on the notion of the avant-garde, on its aporias? What do the terms “avant-garde” or “avant-garde” mean today?

Any other suggestions will be considered with interest.

Proposals for contributions in German or French (max. 1 page) accompanied by a bio-bibliographic notice should be sent to Irène Cagneau for 15 January 2023 (irene.cagneau@uphf.fr).

The publication of the issue is planned for June 2024, and manuscripts (max. 40,000 characters) must be the editors of germanica latest 30 November 2023.

Indicative bibliography

Wolfgang Asholt (dir.), Avantgarde und Modernismus: Dezentrierung, Subversion und Transformation im literarischen-künstlerischen Feld, Berlin, Boston, De Gruyter, 2014.

Kurt Bartsch (ed.), Avantgarde und Traditionalismus: kein Widerspruch in der Postmoderne?, Innsbruck, Vienna, Munich, Studienverlag, 2000.

Safiye Can/Jürgen Krätzer (ed.), Das Wort beim Wort nehmen: Konkrete und andere Spielformen der Poesie 1, Die Horen 271, Göttingen, Wallstein Verlag, 2018.

Klaus Peter Dencker, Optical Poetry. Von den prähistorischen Schriftzeichen bis zu den digitale Experimenten der Gegenwart, Berlin, De Gruyter, 2010.

Thomas Eder/Klaus Kastberger (ed.), Schluß mit dem Abendland! Der lange Atem der österreichischen Avantgarde, Profile, Vol. 5, 3. Jg, Vienna, Paul Zsolnay Verlag, 2000.

Hal Foster, “What is Neo about Neo-Avant-Garde? », October, The Duchamp Effect, vol. 70, 1994, pp. 5-32.

Patrick Greaney/Sabine Zelger (dir.), An Austrian Avantgarde, Los Angeles, Les Figues, 2020.

Simon Mager, worte formen sprache: über concrete Poesie, Typografie und die Arbeit von Eugen Gomringer, Zürich, Triest Verlag, 2021.

Christine Magerski, Theorien der Avantgarde. Gehlen-Bürger-Bourdieu-Luhmann, Wiesbaden, VS Verlag, 2011.

Andreas Mauz/Ulrich Weber/Magnus Wieland (ed.), Avantgarden und Avantgardismus. Program und Praktiken emphatischer cultural Innovation, Göttingen, Wallstein, 2018.

Wolfgang Müller-Funk, “Von der frühen Postmoderne zur verspäteten Avantgarde. Das österreichische Beispiel”, in Pál Deréky/Zoltán Kékesi/Pál Kelemen (dir.), Mitteleuropäische Avantgarden, Budapester Studien zur Literaturwissenschaft, Frankfurt am Main, Peter Lang, 2006, pp. 13-32.

Jutta Müller-Tamm/Lukas Nils Regeler, DDR-Literatur und die Avantgarden, Bielefeld, Aisthesis Verlag, 2022.

François Noudelman, Avantgardes and modernity, Paris, Hachette, 2000

Alexandra Pontzen/Heinz-Peter Preusser (dir.), Changing Avant-Garden, Heidelberg, Winter, 2011.

Wendelin Schmidt-Dengler, “… und das fortgeschrittenste Land ohne es zu wissen”: unbewusster Avantgardismus aus Österreich, Innsbruck, Wien, Bozen, Studienverlag, 2009.

Roberto Simanowski, Textmaschinen – Kinetische Poesie – Interactive installation. Zum Verstehen von Kunst in digitalen Medien, Bielefeld, transcript Verlag, 2014.

Hubert van den Berg/Walter Fähnders (ed.), Metzler Lexikon. Avantgarde, Stuttgart, Weimar, Metzler, 2009.

Bart Vervaeck (ed.), Neo-avantgardes: Post-war Literary Experiments Across Borders, Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press, 2021.

[1] Thomas Eder/Klaus Kastberger (ed.), Schluß mit dem Abendland! Der lange Atem der österreichischen Avantgarde, Profile, Vol. 5, 3. Jg, Vienna, Paul Zsolnay Verlag, 2000.
[2] Barbara Frischmuth, “Avantgarde. Eine Umfrage”, in ibid., p. 137.
[3] Ibid.
[4] See for example recently: Hans Peter Buohler, Tradition und Avantgarde: Das Sonett im Expressionismus, Baden-Baden, Ergon-Verlag, 2022; Joachim Riedl, Wien und die wilden Zwanzigerjahre: Aufbruch, Glanz und Avantgarde, Vienna, Brandstätter Verlag, 2022; Corinna Scheler, Ästhetische Autonomie und Avantgarde: Kurt Schwitters’ Merz, Paderborn, Brill, Wilhelm Fink, 2021; Jasmin Grande et al., Carl Einstein und die Avantgarde, Berlin, Neofelis Verlag, 2021; Simone Zupfer, Netzwerk Avantgarde: Strategien der Literaturkritik in den Zeitschriften des Expressionismus, Dreden, Thelem, 2021; Klemens Gruber, Die polyfrontale Avantgarde: Medien und Künste 1912-1936, Wien, Sonderzahl, 2020.
[5] In addition to studies devoted to a particular author, on this subject one can read the recent book by Bart Vervaeck (dir.), Neo-avant-gardes: Post-war Literary Experiments Across Borders, Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press, 2021, especially Roland Innerhofer’s article on Konrad Bayer’s montages, Laura Tezarek’s and Christian Zolles’ article on Surrealism in post-war Vienna, and Inge Arteels’ on the novel Der Schatten des Körpers Kutschers by Peter Weiss. We can also welcome the recent publication of an anthology of the Austrian avant-garde edited by Patrick Greaney/Sabine Zelger (dir.), An Austrian Avant-garde, Los Angeles, Les Figues, 2020. Regarding Germany and In Switzerland, works exclusively devoted to the notion of the literary avant-garde after 1945 are rare. We can, however, cite a more recent collection of articles that study the concepts of avant-garde and avant-gardism with precision: Andreas Mauz/Ulrich Weber/Magnus Wieland (dir.), Avantgarden und Avantgardismus. Program und Praktiken emphatischer kultureller Innovation, Göttingen, Wallstein, 2018. It is more in monographs about specific authors or about literary practices and experiments, such as concrete poetry, typographic innovations, happenings, performances, that you will find relevant developments for our study. See for example: Safiye Can/Jürgen Krätzer (dir.), Das Wort beim Wort nehmen: Konkrete und andere Spielformen der Poesie 1, Die Horen 271, Göttingen, Wallstein Verlag, 2018; Simon Mager, worte formen sprache: über konkrette Poesie, Typografie und die Arbeit von Eugen Gomringer, Zürich, Triest Verlag, 2021. Finally, a collected work, to be published in November 2022, calls for reflection on the concept of the literary avant-garde in the 1970s and 1980s ‘s GDR, making it possible to question the notion and avant-garde practices at the heart of the literary system in the GDR and more generally in divided Germany. See Jutta Müller-Tamm/Lukas Nils Regeler, DDR-Literatur und die Avantgarden, Bielefeld, Aisthesis Verlag, 2022.
[6] On the avant-garde as “etiquette”, see François Noudelman, Avant-gardes et modernité, Paris, Hachette, 2000, pp. 6 sqq. ; Hubert van den Berg/Walter Fähnders (ed.), Metzler Lexikon. Avantgarde, Stuttgart, Weimar, Metzler, 2009, pp. 9 sq.
[7] See in detail Walter Fähnders, “Literature”, in ibid., pp. 193-198.
[8] See on this subject Patrick Greaney/Sabine Zelger (dir.), op. cit., pp. 10-12.

Leave a Comment