Center for Interdisziplinary Research

Transition-year 1959? A German-Italian ZiF-work-group in relation to continuities and disruptions in German literature of the 1950s

Date: February 22 - 24, 2010

Organizers: Matthias N. Lorenz (Bielefeld), Maurizio Pirro (Bari)

In the conventional history of literature, the year 1959 is considered a caesura. The three novels: The Tin Drum by Günther Grass, Speculations About Jacob by Uwe Johnson and Billiards at Half-Past Nine by Heinrich Böll show that the post-war era, dominated by brief form and existential ways of writing, had been overcome and the state of the pre-war modern era was recovered again. This German-Italian workshop was intended to reflect critically on prevalent clichés of the late 50ies which—from the German perspective—culminated in the transition year 1959. Beyond the interdisciplinarity of the workshop its bilateral concept proved very helpful, counteracting not only a disciplinary but also a purely national self-adulation.

It became clear that the year 1959 constituted a contemporary, untenable construction as well as—from the point of view of literary history—a provisional simplification that does not do justice to the variety of the societal discourses of the 50ies. Rather, from the last third of the decade up to the first third of the 60ies several discourses co-existed which, once again, gathered particular momentum. In this process, far-reaching transformation processes were shown in various fields, which, however, revealed their dominating character only in the course of the late 60ies.

Jens Birkemeyer (Münster), Viviana Chilese (Ferrara), Nicole Colin (Amsterdam), Andrea De Petris (Castelnuovo di Porto), Torben Fischer (Lüneburg), Alexander Gallus (Rostock), Charis Goer (Bielefeld), Fabian Lampert (Freiburg i.Br.), Alice Mazurek (Limerick), Oliver Müller (Bielefeld), Daniela Nelva (Turin), Daniel Siemens (Berlin), Michele Sisto (Trient), Tiziana Urbano (Palermo), Juliane Wetzel (Berlin), Anselm Weyer (Frankfurt am Main)

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