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  • Archiv/Fiktionen: Verfahren des Archivierens in Literatur und Kultur des langen 19. Jahrhunderts eds. by Daniela Gretz and Nicolas Pethes
  • Ervin Malakaj
Daniela Gretz and Nicolas Pethes, ed. Archiv/Fiktionen: Verfahren des Archivierens in Literatur und Kultur des langen 19. Jahrhunderts. Freiburg: Rombach Verlag, 2016. 431 pp.

Daniela Gretz and Nicolas Pethes have edited an exciting volume with a focus on literary cultures of the long nineteenth century. Their primary concern is to deploy the concepts "archive" and "archiving" as interpretive tools for texts produced in the context of the nineteenth-century media revolution as well as its concomitant expansion of information and knowledge networks. Drawing on classical works theorizing the archive (Michel Foucault and Jacques Derrida), as well as established and emerging scholarship in media theory and history, the volume frames texts as depositories of information, on the one hand. On the other, the volume seeks to outline how texts themselves perform archiving of information thematically or formally. Here, Archiv/Fiktionen considers how the documentation and storage of information presented in texts fosters literary self-reflectivity in which literature's own awareness as archive of knowledge or as mode permitting a deep engagement with archiving at a time of information excess emerges.

Archiv/Fiktionen is comprised of a comprehensive introduction and nineteen chapters divided into four sections. Section one, "Institutionen," considers an array [End Page 322] of techniques of archiving articulated through institutions such as the museum, the private collection, an Universalbiliothek, and collected works of authors. Contributions by Ulrike Vedder, Christine Weder, Michael Niehaus, and Philip Ajouri examine how such institutions instantiate an archive as much as they offer moments to critically reflect the process of archiving as, for instance, Niehaus does in his assessment of the fictive concept of a universal library. The universal library may contain all the knowledge of the world, but the necessity to present it as a non-functional archive articulates a futility of narrating archival fiction because of the impossibility to convey individual (his)stories. Section two, "Fiktionen," expresses in which ways narrative strategies resemble archiving processes in select texts and to what end. The section features work by Stefan Willer, Nicolas Pethes, Torsten Hahn, Claudia Liebrand, and Rolf Parr, whose chapters offer examples of narrative texts preoccupied with the thematic of the archive. For example, Liebrand explains how Annette von Droste-Hülshoff's narrative approaches in select texts depend on a reimagining of an existing archive to form another, which, through this narrative transfiguration, (productively) distorts the aura of the original.

Section three of the volume, "Medien," treats the periodical press of the nineteenth century as (meta) archive in its own right, which reflects the medial conditions of the literary landscape as much as it preserves them for posterity through its ordering and serializing praxes. Chapters by Sean Franzel, Manuela Günter and Michael Homberg, Stefan Scherer and Claudia Stockinger, Daniela Gretz, and Madleen Podewski examine various media sites as archives or as archiving instances. Gretz offers a representative chapter for this section, in which she considers how the knowledge archives of the periodical press systematized a stable (if deeply problematic and violent) narrative about central Africa, which became a thematic preoccupation of Raabe's Abu Telfan. The final section of the volume, "Quantitative Analysen," explores digital humanities approaches as tools to examine literature of the nineteenth century. Distant reading methods permit Lynne Tatlock, Matt Erlin, Thomas Weitin, and Marcus Twellmann access to new ways of examining literary texts either in light of the way they were archived in edited collections or edition histories or as part of larger archives, results of the establishment of computerized corpora of nineteenth-century texts. To this end, Weitin, for instance, deploys computerized network analysis as a means to determine the affinities among text clusters (or archives) in Paul Heyse's Deutscher Novellenschatz.

Among the contributors to Archiv/Fiktionen are leading experts on German nineteenth-century literary and culture studies from Europe and North America. The wealth of approaches to the topic makes this an important volume. Archiv/Fiktionen is an important contribution to research on magazine cultures, edition history, media theory, and literary history of the long German nineteenth century. One...


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