Event Ticker: the authors of the book series “mimesis” (De Gruyter) present their recent publications in Berlin

(Ticker by Tobias Kraft)

The evening's panel (from left to right): Albrecht Buschmann, Gesine Müller, Anne Kraume, Ottmar Ette, Frank Hahn, Anke Birkenmaier, Jenny Haase

The evening's panel (from left to right): Albrecht Buschmann, Gesine Müller, Anne Kraume, Ottmar Ette, Frank Hahn, Anke Birkenmaier, Jenny Haase

6:30 p.m. – Frank Hahn, director of the Berlin based cultural association Spree-Athen e.V., inaugurates the evening with reflections on the mimesis book series and its underlying concept.

6:45 p.m. – In his opening comments, the series’ editor Ottmar Ette (Potsdam) reviews the the past decades as a time of memoir discourse, which has been dominating both the artistic production and the theoretical thinking in the humanities.

Today, as Ette argues, literary and cultural studies have gone through a paradigm shift from memoir to knowledge. What is it that literature knows, about man, about cultures, about models and practices of life and conviviality (Zusammenleben)? What is it, ultimately, that literature knows about our lives?

As Ette points out, the subtitle of the series „Romanische Literaturen der Welt“ aims at pluralizing the literary canon in the tradition of Erich Auerbach’s concept of world literature. While Auerbach’s famous study Mimesis focused on models of representing »reality«, the life-centered focus of this series aims at analyzing representations of „lived realities“. These „lived realities“ are examined as models of conviviality in different periods of accelerated globalization. Hence, literatures studied in the mimesis book series are characterized by their prospect as global discourse and their capacity to highlight cultural „polylogics“ (Ette), both in its temporal and spatial unfolding.

7:15 p.m. – Gesine Müller (Potsdam) presents her book on Die koloniale Karibik. Transferprozesse in hispanophonen und frankophonen Literaturen [The Colonial Caribbean. Literary and Cultural Transfer in Hispanic and Francophone Literature] (2012). In her opening remarks, Müller highlights the productivity of 19th century Caribbean literature and their vivid conscience of processes of globalization. Juxtaposed with 20th century discourses on cultural theory and „multiple modernities“, the Caribbean presents itself as a complex (trans)area, continuously negotiating (post)colonial structures and conflicts. The focus of this book is set on the dynamics of cultural transfer in the „long“ 19th century, starting with the French Revolution 1789 and ending 1888 with the abolition of slavery in the colonized West.

7:35 p.m. – Anne Kraume (Potsdam) presents her book on Das Europa der Literatur. Schriftsteller blicken auf den Kontinent 1815–1945 [The Europe of Literature. Authors Regard the Continent from 1815–1945] (2010). As Kraume explains in her remarks, the book undertakes an exemplary analysis of the works of nine authors and develops an understanding of the special relationship between literature and Europe. The analytical framework of this study is based on topoi as developed by Ernst Robert Curtius in his acclaimed classic Europäische Literatur und lateinisches Mittelalter. As an example of this approach, Kraume presents an analysis of José Saramagos novel A Jangada de Pedra [The Stone Raft], which plays out the aesthetic model of an imagined Europe as both insular and continental.

7:50 p.m. – Anke Birkenmaier (Bloomington) presents her critical edition of Oswald Spengler’s unpublished drama Montezuma, which is the centerpiece of her book Versionen Montezumas. Lateinamerika in der historischen Imagination des 19. Jahrhunderts. [Versions of Montezuma] (2011). Spengler’s early piece is an epitome for an occidental reading by 20th century intellectuals like Auerbach and Spengler of the tradition of Spanish and Latin American literature. In his famous analysis of the cultural decadence of the West, Der Untergang des Abendlandes, Spengler discusses the Mexican Culture as an anti-thesis of his line of argument, in which all seven world cultures, which Spengler privileges, decay at a certain period of their evolution to become an amalgamate of Western civilization.

8:00 p.m. – Jenny Haase (Berlin) presents her book on 19th century travel literature on Patagonia in southern Argentina and Chile, entitled Patagoniens verflochtene Erzählwelten. Der argentinische und chilenische Süden in Reiseliteratur und historischem Roman (1977-1999) [Interwoven Narrative Worlds of Patagonia] (2009). The vast region can be understood as a historical „space of desire“ with conflicting narratives of exploration and expedition. Haase uses contemporary narrative texts to test the stereotypes commonly associated with Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego, and analyses the relations between Europe and South America represented in them. As Haase points out, the narratives configure a complex semantic web of intertextual and transcultural references, which shape the perception of Patagonia until today.

8:15 p.m. – Albrecht Buschmann (Rostock) presents his book on the Spanish author of French-German origin Max Aub, which had to flee the French camps concentrationnaires during the Second World War and stayed in his Mexican exile for the rest of his life. The book entitled Max Aub und die spanische Literatur zwischen Avantgarde und Exil [Max Aub and Spanish Literature between Avant-Garde and Exile] (2012), is the first study of the complete works of Max Aub in German, aiming at a broad academic readership. As an example of Aub’s extensive oeuvre, Buschmann discusses the parabolic tale Manuscrito cuervo [Raven manuscript], which reflects – decades before Agamben’s famous theory – with bitter irony on the concentration camp as paradigm of modernity.

8:30 p.m. – Discussion and vin d’honneur.

Discuss your POINTS!