Annual Theme 2016/17: Realism

Published on the ZfL BLOG 14.04.2016

People are talking about realism again, as our reality experiences dramatic changes in terms of its political, technological and mediated constitution. In philosophy we read about speculative, or new realism. Politicians plead for more realism. The social sciences have started to call the primacy of constructivism into question. And even in literary studies, realism once again enjoys a revived interest. The Annual Theme of the ZfL, therefore, is dedicated to the return of realism in its various guises. We are, however, less interested in simply analyzing the current discourse around realism as in investigating the more or less latent pre-histories of this discourse in which artistic and literary realism(s) have long played a key role.
Natalie Moser: Realism for the 21st Century (I): The Return of Village Stories
Published on the ZfL BLOG on 14.04.2016
To demonstrate the relevance of realism in contemporary literature by examining a village story (Dorfgeschichte) does not, at first, seem like a great idea. Wasn't the village story in large part responsible for giving 19th century realistic prose a reputation of being old fashioned, naïve, and kitschy? Village stories are usually set in, of course, a pastoral, country village milieu that the author describes in great detail. They unfold along the lines of a simple oppositions such as good vs evil. The most formative, albeit largely forgotton representative of the genre remains the author Berthold Auerbach, whose Village Stories from the Black Forest began to appear in 1843. In spite of their lousy reputation, however, literary historians have begun to rediscover village stories and generate new interest in this much-maligned genre.
Ulrich Plass: REALISM for the 21st Century (II): Serial Violence in Roberto Bolaño's novel 2666
Published on the ZfL BLOG on 14.04.2016

»The girl’s body turned up in a vacant lot in Colonia Las Flores. She was dressed in a white long-sleeved T-shirt and a yellow knee-length skirt, a size too big.« Thus begins »The Part about Crimes« in Roberto Bolaño's novel 2666. An ambitious form of realistic poetics conceals itself behind these two deceptively matter-of-fact sentences. The author’s relentless description of a series of horrendous, violent crimes aims to expose the complex structure of late capitalist, transnational reality – a reality that resists descriptive objectification and, at best, is only able to be imaginatively grasped through metaphors of circulation, transaction and flows. The accomplishment of Bolaño's realism in »The Part about Crimes« lies in the fact that a slice of this socio-economic reality, which threatens to be instantly forgotten, is insistently revived again and again; moreover, the author makes this revival interesting for the reader not through variation, but on the contrary through implacable repetition.


29 Oct 2016 · 10.15 am

Eva Geulen: Realismus ohne Entsagung. Fontanes »L’Adultera«

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Geschwister-Scholl-Str. 3, 10117 Berlin, Auditorium des Grimm-Zentrums

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6. International Summer academy at the ZfL
11 Sep 2016 – 16 Sep 2016

Realism revisited

ZfL, Schützenstr. 18, 10117 Berlin, 3. Et.

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