Special Issue "Aspects of Contemporary German Fiction"
Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 September 2019).
Interests: 20th ct. German literature and culture; German Holocaust literature; literary and cultural memory; The Frankfurt School/Critical Theory; Aesthetics; Love
For volume 12 of Hansers Sozialgeschichte der deutschen Literatur vom 16. Jahrhundert bis zur Gegenwart (Hanser’s Social History of German Literature from the 16th Century to the Present, 1992), edited by Klaus Briegleb and Sigrid Weigel, ‘Contemporary Literature’ begins in 1968. Leonhard Herrmann’s and Silke Horstkotte’s 2016 study Gegenwartsliteratur. Eine Einführung (Contemporary Literature. An Introduction) select 1989 as temporal marker that distinguishes ‘Contemporary Literature’ from ‘Post-War Literature’ and point to a critical consensus with respect to the threshold of 1989/90. As any conception of ‘Contemporary Literature’ is in need of distinguishing its conception of ‘the present’ from what precedes it, the fact that both of the above analyses of ‘Contemporary Literature’ demarcate their field by reference to a socio-historical/political caesura of national and, in the latter case, global significance is less remarkable than the fact that both studies are working with roughly the same time-frame for their conception of ‘Contemporary Literature’, a window of about 25 years.
Politically, economically and culturally, 1989/90 is a watershed moment that has transformed the field of German language literature. The fall of the wall in 1989/90, the collapse of the Soviet Union and the emergence of an unfettered global Capitalism can be said to have transformed the German literary field into ‘opening up’ to a global(ised) literary market and a globalized aesthetics. Simultaneously, the last two decades were accompanied by a series of ‘Cultural Turns’ (Bachmann-Medick) in Cultural Studies, from the ‘Spatial’ and ‘Turkish’ or ‘Diasporic Turn’, the ‘Postcolonial’, the ‘Transnational’/Transcultural’ and most recently the ‘Posthuman Turn’. The short-lived nature of these ‘turns’ may reflect yet another aspect of our socio-cultural present, the issue of increased acceleration (Rosa) and the diminished sense of a present (Lübbe).
If this Special Issue sets itself an even smaller time frame for its assessment of a set of constellations and thematic areas within contemporary German language fiction, it is because of the impact of the global developments since 2001 on the literary field, and the increasing shifts within German fiction towards an engagement with the emergencies of global socio-political developments. In line with Hermann’s and Horstkotte’s distinction between Gegenwartsliteratur (literature of the present) and zeitgenössische (contemporary) literature, where Gegenwartsliteratur marks the ‘immediate relation of a text to the discourses of its time’ that is articulated both contextually and/or aesthetically (Hermann/Horstkotte, 2016, 4), the articles in this Special Issue investigate a number of emergent themes that engage with and reflect recent developments, from the emergence of the ‘world literature’ debate and transnationalism/transculturalism, Neoliberalism and its impact on the self, Migration, emergent sexualities, Post-apocalyptic fictions to the re-emergence of Love and Desire.
Dr. Helmut Schmitz
Manuscript Submission Information
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- Contemporary German language literature
- World Literature
- Post-Apocalyptic Fiction