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Cultural Impact in the German Context

Cultural Impact in the German Context: Studies in Transmission, Reception, and Influence

Rebecca Braun
Lyn Marven
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 316
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  • Book Info
    Cultural Impact in the German Context
    Book Description:

    How to gauge the impact of cultural products is an old question, but bureaucratic agendas such as the one recently implemented in the UK to measure the impact of university research (including in German Studies) are new. Impact is seen as confirming a cultural product's value for society -- not least in the eyes of cultural funders. Yet its use as an evaluative category has been widely criticized by academics. Rather than rejecting the concept of impact, however, this volume employs it as a metaphor to reflect on issues of transmission, reception, and influence that have always underlain cultural production but have escaped systematic conceptualization. It seeks to understand how culture works in the German-speaking world: how writers and artists express themselves, how readers and audiences engage with the resulting products, and how academics are drawn to analyze this dynamic process. Formulating such questions afresh in the context of German Studies, the volume examines both contemporary cultural discourse and the way it evolves more generally. It links such topics as authorial intention, readerly reception, intertextuality, and modes of perception to less commonly studied phenomena, such as the institutional practices of funding bodies, that underpin cultural discourse. Contributors: David Barnett, Laura Bradley, Rebecca Braun, Sarah Colvin, Anne Fuchs, Katrin Kohl, Karen Leeder, Jürgen Luh, Jenny McKay, Ben Morgan, Gunther Nickel, Chloe Paver, Joanne Sayner, Matthew Philpotts, Jane Wilkinson. Rebecca Braun is Lecturer in German Studies at the University of Lancaster and Lyn Marven is Lecturer in German at the University of Liverpool.

    eISBN: 978-1-57113-721-0
    Subjects: Language & Literature, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Introduction: Cultural Impact in Theory and Practice
    (pp. 1-16)
    Rebecca Braun

    When the Research Councils in the UK recently required researchers to fill out an “impact” statement in their applications for public funding, resistance among the academic community was strong. The emphasis, all parties were quick to surmise, was primarily on justifying government spending of taxpayers’ money in terms of measurable economic returns, and a majority of academics across both the arts and sciences felt that such an approach to evaluating research projects was inherently misguided. In a lead article in theTimes Higher Education(THE) in April 2009, not only was it judged to be a “pretty fruitless task” to...

  4. I. Theorizing Cultural Impact

    • 1: The Metaphor of Cultural Impact and the Cultural Impact of Metaphor
      (pp. 19-35)
      Katrin Kohl

      For academics working in publicly funded third-level institutions in Britain, the twenty-first century announced itself as the age of impact. In 2002, the Arts Council England published a report entitledMeasuring the Economic and Social Impact of the Artscalling for “arts impact research” and an “arts impact agenda.”¹ In 2008, the British Academy launched a report entitledMaximising the Impact of Humanities and Social Science Researchin which the humanities in particular were encouraged to justify their value in terms of their social and economic “impacts.”² Such reports are designed to influence public policy, and they suggest that impact...

    • 2: The Bombing of Dresden and the Idea of Cultural Impact
      (pp. 36-57)
      Anne Fuchs

      Like no other German city, Dresden has become a symbolically laden placeholder for German collective and cultural memory since the end of the Second World War. Dresden’s status as a national and global memory space was underlined by the consecration of the rebuilt Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady) in October 2005, a symbolic act of reconciliation that recognized the memory of the past while gesturing to a new beginning. Originally designed by George Bähr and built in the mid-eighteenth century, the church collapsed on 15 February 1945, when its supportive structure succumbed to extensive heat damage after the firestorm of...

    • 3: Understanding the Cultural Impact of Popular Film
      (pp. 58-77)
      Ben Morgan

      To speak of “cultural impact” is to use a figure of speech drawn from the physical sciences. The word “impact” started being used toward the end of the eighteenth century to refer to the striking of one body against another, but was soon employed more generally to describe the effect of any one thing on any other. The scientific usage is a product of a Newtonian worldview, which sees the universe as colliding bodies. The same assumptions inform the figurative uses of the term, as an example from Coleridge from the early nineteenth century suggests. Writing of perception, Coleridge asserted...

    • 4: Cultural Impact and the Power of Myth in Popular Public Constructions of Authorship
      (pp. 78-96)
      Rebecca Braun

      Writing in 1994 about the effect of media profiling on authors’ social visibility, Günter Grass explained how authors can find themselves, as discrete individuals, disseminated and discussed against their best literary interests. He referred to the reception of Thomas Mann’s work, which continues to be biographically led, and explained how the author’s private diaries were finally invoked as the last word in these public debates:

      Am Ende war Thomas Mann ertappt, in seinem Wesenskern gedeutet und auf den Punkt gebracht. Frech konnte eine sekundäre Findung zur Erkenntnis aufgeblasen und als Sichtblende vor das Werk des Urhebers gestellt werden . ....

    • 5: Cultural Impact as Symbolic Capital: The Case of the Elite Intellectual Field
      (pp. 97-112)
      Matthew Philpotts

      In this final contribution to the opening, theoretical section of this volume, I would like to return to the significance of impact as a metaphor through which the value of cultural products is conceptualized. As Katrin Kohl argues in the first chapter, impact is a potent and widespread image, but one that masks the complex processes involved in the reception of culture. If the illusion of a clearly definable and quantifiable imprint through which cultural worth might be measured is an alluring one for those seeking to judge culture by economic and social criteria, then it is no less appealing...

  5. II. Directing Cultural Impact

    • 6: Frederick 300 in 2012: A Case Study of Institutional Management of Heritage in Germany
      (pp. 115-128)
      Jürgen Luh

      In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries King Frederick II of Prussia was a much-contested figure of German history. For most academics and the wider public he was a genius, a hero, a role model; but for a small number of academics and a small portion of the population he was a warmonger, a misanthrope — menace personified. These admittedly exaggerated views determined the general view of Frederick, the public’s perception of him, until the 1980s, and to some extent still do today.¹

      Regardless of one’s opinion of Frederick, whether one admires or abhors him, he was a leading figure of eighteenth-century...

    • 7: “Art Needs Bread”: Supporting Literature in Germany
      (pp. 129-149)
      Gunther Nickel

      In the amusing storyJosefine, die Sängerin oder Das Volk der Mäuse(Josephine the Singer, or the Mouse Folk, 1924) Franz Kafka wrote about a society’s refusal to nurture artistic development. The plot centers around a singer named Josephine, though it is admittedly somewhat doubtful whether the term “singing” can really be applied to Josephine’s artistic pursuits. Indeed, to all appearances it would seem that Josephine does not in fact sing at all; she merely squeaks, and even here barely manages to get “über die Grenzen des üblichen Pfeifens” (beyond the realms of standard squeaking).¹ Yet Josephine nevertheless makes demands...

    • 8: “I’ve been told . . . that the play is far too German”: The Interplay of Institution and Dramaturgy in Shaping British Reactions to German Theater
      (pp. 150-166)
      David Barnett

      The quotation in the title of this chapter is taken from the British playwright Simon Stephens in an interview with Brian Logan in theGuardianin 2007.¹ Stephens has been enjoying a good deal of success in the UK, Germany, and elsewhere in the past few years, and the statement concerns his attempts to get his play about a British subject, the London bombings of 7 July 2005, onto a British stage.Pornographie(Pornography, 2007) was commissioned by the Deutsches Schauspielhaus Hamburg and coproduced between Hamburg and Hanover for the Theaterformen festival in the summer of 2007 under the direction...

  6. III. Analyzing Cultural Impact

    • 9: You Shall Know Them by Their Objects: Material Culture and Its Impact in Museum Displays about National Socialism
      (pp. 169-187)
      Chloe Paver

      “Impact” is not a term with particular currency in museum theory and criticism, though there are signs that in order to justify the continued receipt of public funding, UK museum practitioners are under much the same pressure as UK arts faculties to demonstrate “impact”; for example, the author of a 2009 article on the alleged culture of “managerialism” in UK museums lists “social impact” as one of his keywords.¹ Back in 1994 it was possible to use the term more optimistically. In a volume of essays on gender and museums in the United States, “impact” forms a thread that runs...

    • 10: Discrepant Narratives: The Impact of Transborder Theater Festivals on Communities at the German-Polish Border
      (pp. 188-209)
      Jane Wilkinson

      The importance of a shared culture (and language) in the “imagining” of a collective identity at the national level is well argued, not least by Benedict Anderson in his seminal study of nations asImagined Communities.¹ In his discussion of “multilevel citizenship and identity,” including at the European and regional levels, Joe Painter similarly argues the importance to the political process of a sense of “emotional identification with the wider community developed through cultural affiliation,” and specifically through participation in “everyday and popular culture.”² The European Commission’s 2007Agenda for Cultureaccordingly “affirms the central role of culture in the...

    • 11: The Impact of an Unperson? Peter-Paul Zahl, Peter-Jürgen Boock, and the Cultural Impact of Prison Writing
      (pp. 210-226)
      Sarah Colvin

      “Lebenslauf einer Unperson” (Curriculum Vitae of an Unperson) is the title of the first section of a collection of documents titledAm Beispiel Peter-Paul Zahl(The Example of Peter-Paul Zahl), collated and edited in the mid-1970s by the “ Initiativgruppe Peter-Paul Zahl” (Peter-Paul Zahl support group), a circle of established writers led by Erich Fried, who took a particular interest in Zahl’s case.¹ Zahl (b. 1944) had published a number of short stories, poems, and his first novel² before, in December 1972, he was arrested and held in solitary confinement as a suspected terrorist; he was also a member of...

    • 12: The Organic Intellectual: The Public and Political Impact of Greta Kuckhoff, 1945–1949
      (pp. 227-242)
      Joanne Sayner

      When Greta Kuckhoff was released from prison by the Red Army in 1945, she immediately volunteered for work with the Allies. Imprisoned by the Nazis as a member of the antifascist resistance group called Die Rote Kapelle (The Red Orchestra), she believed that it was the duty of those anti-Nazis who had survived to help rebuild Germany. In this chapter I explore Kuckhoff’s work and writings as a case study for raising questions about cultural impact in Germany between 1945 and 1949. In particular, I look at her weekly radio programs and educational speeches as elements of the cultural landscape...

    • 13: The Politics of Cultural Impact: Michael Kohlhaas in East Berlin
      (pp. 243-259)
      Laura Bradley

      In the immediate postwar years, there were formidable obstacles to the reception and transmission of Kleist’s works in the Soviet-occupied zone of Germany. Even sympathetic readers, such as critic Walther Victor, found it difficult to get past the way in which Kleist’s texts had been appropriated in the Third Reich. After all, the Nazis’ chief theater censor had described his plays as the cornerstone of the repertoire.¹ While socialists were keen to reclaim works that they deemed part of the “progressive” cultural heritage, Georg Lukács had made it clear that — in his view — there was relatively little in Kleist’s oeuvre...

    • 14: Ingeborg Bachmann as Poet and Myth: A Case Study in Cultural Impact
      (pp. 260-277)
      Karen Leeder

      A mid the eulogies associated with the eightieth anniversary of Ingeborg Bachmann’s birth in 2006, an essay by the German writer Ulrike Draesner sounded a distinctive and controversial note.¹ Draesner’s essay engaged critically with Bachmann’s work but also examined her literary persona and reflected more generally on the way the cultural impact of a female author is constructed. Of course other writers had touched on this territory before. In 2001 the Austrian writer Franzobel had dubbed Bachmann “eine Art Vorreiterin des Girlie-Wunders . . . [e]ine erste Pop-Ikone der österreichischen Literatur” (a sort of predecessor of the chicklitmiracle . ....

    • 15: Sponsoring Authorial Impact: The Case of Ingo Schulze
      (pp. 278-294)
      Jenny McKay

      On 4 November 2007, Dresden-born author Ingo Schulze (b. 1962) won theThüringer Literaturpreis(Thüringen Literary Prize). Awarded in Weimar, the prize celebrated Schulze’s status as “einer der bedeutendsten Prosaautoren im heutigen Deutschland” (one of the most significant prose authors in contemporary Germany).¹ The prize jury — consisting of representatives from Thüringen’s Literarische Gesellschaft (Literary Society) — praised in particular the ability of Schulze’s fiction to capture the changes that had accompanied the collapse of socialism.² However, it was also these changes that provided the focus for Schulze’s less-than-grateful acceptance speech.³ Rather than use the occasion to express his gratitude for a...

  7. Notes on the Contributors
    (pp. 295-298)
  8. Index
    (pp. 299-310)
  9. Back Matter
    (pp. 311-311)