19/1030: one difference between German and English texts

In a continued frame from yesterday (which you haven’t seen yet, but will), there is a clear line of divide in how we can label German and English literature, but the thing being labeled is very similar. If one considers that most new German texts are transnational and most new English texts postcolonial, what reminds is to define both terms.

Paul Jay, one of the trailblazers in transnational studies in the US summarizes these as:

“novels that at once transform the nature of the national literatures to which they belong and push beyond national barriers to engage the global character of the modern experience, contemporary culture, and the identities they produce” (198 in Global Matters). 

In short, these are texts no longer limited in experience and accessibility to the nation in which they were created. They are, of course, still informed by some idea of nation, but they engage in a global history rather than just the national one. One can argue that for classical literature, this has always been the case, but that is not actually true. The subject matter of most canonical texts are decidedly national.

In this way, post colonial literature works the same way, but it is much more subtle and by virtue of being postcolonial rather than activiely seeking out these descriptions and characterizations. Yet a key component of postcolonial literature is hybritidy, and transnational literature satisfies this requirement very well.

However, I contribute nothing new by writing this. Eva Harmacher and other theorists have already looked at the parallels between postcolonial and transnational lit, and of course they complement one another, both  responsible for a sort of “politics of displacement,” as Harmacher points out in the book “Meine Sprache genzt mich ab…” Transkulturalität und kulturelle Übersetzung im Kontext von Migration (2008). Some trends include:

  • “Bedeutsamkeit von Raumkonstruktionen, imaginärer Geografien, alternative Raumkonzepte, etc.
  • multiperspektives Erzählen
  • Figuren oft hybridisierst dargestellt
  • Sprachmisschung, Heteroglossie

To name a few. As one can see, I’d be doing useless work if I tried to reinvent the wheel again by explaining how these parallels work. Instead, I obviously use this similarity as the basis off which to pursue a study on the intermedial referees of these novels and what particular significance these may have for literature today that is framed by these poetics of the displaced. To be continued.

Disclaimer: this series is a collection of brainstorms and free-writes that are a part of my planning for actual text in my dissertation. Therefore, I am giving myself the liberty to make mistakes, make assumptions (call me out on offensive ones, though!), not tie up loose ends, and generally not make any sense. 

Copyright 2016 Dorothea Trotter: because these writings are planning for actual text in my dissertation, some of this will appear in my dissertation. I hold the right to the words in this post and require that interested parties ask for permission before copying the words or ideas too closely. Obviously, the date of posting is the date of copyright and I reserve the right to challenge suspected plagiarism in my future dissertation submission using these blogs as proof of originality

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