Performance, Performativity, and the Contemporary German Kurzgeschichte

Spiers, Emily (2020) Performance, Performativity, and the Contemporary German Kurzgeschichte. In: The Short Story in German in the Twenty-First Century. Camden House, pp. 1-16. ISBN 9781640140462

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SINCE THE 1990s, the short story has reemerged in the German-speaking world as a vibrant literary genre, serving as a medium for both literary experimentation and popular writing. In the twenty-first century this boom has continued, with authors like Judith Hermann and Peter Stamm making a significant impact on German-language literary culture and, in translation, on literary culture in the UK and USA. Despite the wealth of short-story publications across different media and from a wide range of authors, there is a relative dearth of critical work focusing on the shortstory form as such. Together, the contributions to this volume offer an analysis of the variety of German-language short-story writing in the twenty-first century, and they aim to establish a framework for further research into individual authors and into important themes and formal concerns. The introduction makes the case for a flexible and responsive approach to the concerns raised by individual authors, stories, and collections, and provides an overview of the volume. In a series of themed and author-focused chapters, the volume offers an exploration of important developments and trends in the German-language short story today. This volume took its initial cue from an earlier volume on contemporary literature edited by Lyn Marven and Stuart Taberner, Emerging German-Language Novelists of the Twenty-First Century. As Marven suggests in the Introduction to the earlier volume, ultracontemporary literature poses difficulties for researchers not only in the practicalities of seeking out and discovering new publications—arguably intensified rather than made easier by the publishing proliferation of the digital age—but also in the task of assessing the literary qualities of the texts in what may be a critical vacuum. Such “unknown and untested” texts force us to confront our own critical expectations and judgment: what makes a text worthy of study and analysis is not in the end a matter of “quality” as such, whatever that may mean to each one of us or to the reading public at large, but rather its own intrinsic interest. The sheer variety and versatility of short fiction forms mean each text must necessarily define its own genre on its own terms.

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14 Jul 2021 20:40
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12 Sep 2023 02:28