ZfL Literature Days
20 Apr 2018 – 21 Apr 2018

The Eccentric in Contemporary Literature

Venue: Literaturhaus Berlin, Fasanenstr. 23, 10719 Berlin
Organized by Claude Haas, Mona Körte, Stefan Willer
Research project(s): ZfL Literature Days

In Cooperation with the Literaturhaus Berlin

Quirky scholars, tyrannical aunts, obsessive dropouts, indulgent hypochondriacs, self-proclaimed queens and spirited underground operatives: literature appears to be overflowing with a rich spectrum of eccentrics. The literary historian Herman Meyer’s classic study Sonderling in der deutschen Dichtung rooted this figure in the 19th century, but it seems to be of particular interest for the present moment.

The ZfL Literature Days will investigate this surge of interest in the eccentric in light of current debates over diversity and plurality, about respect for different identities and efforts to enable and protect equal access to society for all its members. Not all literary eccentrics can be encompassed under the rubric of modern diversity management: some test the very limits of what has become a politically normalized notion of diversity. Cranky, grotesque, if not absurd, some eccentrics intentionally refuse and reject social recognition. Their individual particularity stands opposed to inclusion and integration, which they regard with indifference or from which they even withdraw. In doing so, these figures call certain aspects of current discussions of pluralism into question. Does social integration not, per se, limit the potential of individual diversity? Does recognition not inherently weaken, or anesthetize that which purportedly ought to be recognized?

The supposedly apolitical figure of the eccentric can, thus, reveal itself as a potential skeptic in relation to the discourse around diversity. For s/he insists on remaining estranged and lashes out against social approbation. This intentional separation produces a wondrous type of autonomy, perhaps even sovereignty, to which a specific aesthetic pertains. The Literature Days in the Literaturhaus Berlin will, therefore, investigate specifically which type of language, which tone, and which literary modes and genres are instrumental in framing contemporary representations of the eccentric.


Friday, 20 April 2018

13.45 Welcome

Readings and talks with ...

Kat Kaufmann and Janika Gelinek (Literaturhaus Berlin)

Jonas Lüscher and Patrick Hohlweck (ZfL)

Steffen Popp and Jakob Gehlen (ZfL)

Gertraud Klemm and Claude Haas (ZfL)


Saturday, 21 April 2018

Die Souveränität der Sonderlinge
Stefan Willer (ZfL/HU Berlin) and Mona Körte (ZfL)

Readings and talks with ...

Ingo Schulze and Ulrike Vedder (HU Berlin)

Fatma Aydemir and Sonja Longolius (Literaturhaus Berlin)

Esther Kinsky and Mona Körte (ZfL)


day ticket 7€, reduced 5€ – two-day ticket 10€, reduced 7€

The event will be held in German.

Media Response

22 Apr 2018
Berliner Tagung über »Sonderlinge in der Gegenwartsliteratur«

Radio review by Cornelius Wüllenkemper, in: Deutschlandfunk, program Kultur heute, 22 Apr 2018 (5 min)

20 Apr 2018
WISSEN – Sonderlinge in der Gegenwartsliteratur

Radio talk with Mona Körte, in: RBB Kulturradio, program Kulturradio am Vormittag, 20 Apr 2018, 9:10 am (5:11 min)

08 Apr 2018
Von der Kunst der Politik und der Politik der Kunst. Der Literaturwissenschaftler Stefan Willer über den Sonderling in der Literatur

Radio talk, in: Bayern 2, program Kulturjournal, 08 Apr 2018 (46:14 to 1:02:10)