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An Aethetics of Narrative Performance

Transnational Theater, Literature, and Film in Contemporary Germany

Claudia Breger

Publication Year: 2012

The contemporary moment has been described in terms of both a “narrative” and a “performative turn,” but the overlap between these two has largely escaped attention. This curious gap is explained by the ways in which scholars across the humanities have defined narrative and performance as opposite forces, emphasizing their respective affiliations with time vs. space and identity constitution vs. its undoing. Although the opposition has been acknowledged as false by many in this simple form, its shifting instantiations continue to shape the ways we make sense of the arts as well as society. Instead, An Aesthetics of Narrative Performance: Transnational Theater, Literature, and Film in Contemporary Germany by Claudia Breger maps the complexities of imaginative worldmaking in contemporary culture through an aesthetics of narrative performance: an ensemble of techniques exploring the interplay of rupture and recontextualization in the process of configuration. Interlacing diverging definitions of both narrative and performance, the study outlines two clusters of such techniques—scenic narration and narrative “presencing” in performance vs. forms of narrative theatricalization—and analyzes the cultural work they do in individual works in three different media: literature, film, and theater. These readings focus on the rich configurations of contemporary worldmaking “at location Germany.” In the discussed representations of German unification, contemporary cultures of migration, and the transnational War on Terror, the aesthetics of narrative performance finds its identity as a multifaceted imaginative response to the post/modern crisis of narrative authority.

Published by: The Ohio State University Press

Series: Theory and Interpretation of Narrative


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-5


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pp. v-vi

List of Illustrations

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

My investigations toward and the writing of this book have been supported by more people than I can acknowledge here. Ever since my move to the Midwest, Indiana University has provided a stimulating intellectual environment. Over the years my local community has grown, but, thanks to the wonders of the digital age and much-cherished travel privileges, ...

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Chapter I: Toward an Aesthetics of Narrative Performance

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pp. 1-48

When I arrived in Berlin in the beginning of 2008 on a fellowship to research and write this book, one of the first theater productions I saw was Stefan Bachmann’s Liebe Kannibalen Godard (Love Cannibals Godard), a visiting performance by the Hamburg-based Thalia Theater at the Maxim Gorki Theater. ...

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Chapter II: Theatrical Narratives: Film ‘Made in Germany’ Around 2000

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pp. 49-90

Film historians have suggested that the 1990s mark an ‘unspectacular’ era of German film. After the New German Cinema of the 1960s through early 1980s, on the one hand, and the East German DEFA (Deutsche Film-Aktiengesellschaft) cinema, on the other, had come to their respective ends, the stage was left to light comedy fare. ...

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Chapter III: Evoking Presence—in Mediation: Literary Scenarios at the Turn of the Century

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pp. 91-134

While theatricalized comedies such as Sonnenallee and Good Bye, Lenin! dominated the national film charts, literary critics and audiences focused on a related—and yet poetically quite different—figuration at the turn of the twenty-first century. Identified, by both its adherents and its opponents, as “the key to the present condition,”1 ...

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Chapter IV: Epic Commentary and Affective Presencing: Contemporary Theater

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pp. 135-183

As I have spelled out, the interplay of narrative and performance is almost self-understood for the medium of film (even while the details of their interaction have remained controversial), and the performative character of much modernist and contemporary literary narrative has been broadly acknowledged as well. ...

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Chapter V: Like God’s Voice? The Return of Authoritative Narration

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pp. 184-226

In 2003 Florian Illies, whose bestseller Generation Golf had established him as the representative West German archivist of pop culture a few years earlier, declared: “It’s all over. The New Economy. The fun society. Pop literature.”1 With a renewed programmatic insistence, his colleagues instead began debating the function of literature, ...

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Chapter VI: A New Aesthetics of Proximity: The Turn to Presence

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pp. 227-267

Not only Foer’s Oskar tried to work through the trauma of September 11 with the help of pictures. While people around the world remained glued to their television sets in the immediate aftermath of the attacks, Diana Taylor describes the use of photography as a technique of archiving the events on site, in downtown Manhattan. ...

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In Summary: Gestures of Closure

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pp. 268-274

Through a close-up on contemporary culture at ‘location Germany,’ this study set out to map the aesthetics of the present moment as an aesthetics of narrative performance: a set of techniques that develop narrative in performative and performance in narrative forms—widely different in many respects but also attesting to shared preoccupations. ...

Works Cited

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pp. 275-301


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pp. 302-316

E-ISBN-13: 9780814270202
E-ISBN-10: 0814270204
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814211977
Print-ISBN-10: 0814211976

Page Count: 344
Illustrations: 15 photos
Publication Year: 2012

Series Title: Theory and Interpretation of Narrative