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A re-evaluation of documentary tendencies in Neue Sachlichkeit

Thijs Festjens (UGent) and Gunther Martens (UGent)
Author
Organization
Project
BOF11/24J/132 - Documentary literature 3.0. The document as representational strategy in German literature after 2000
Abstract
Our article aims to reassess the documentary aspects of two authors and texts that, for diverging reasons, have been considered as hallmarks of Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity): Ernst Jünger's Storm of Steel (1920, 1978) and Irmgard Keun's The Artificial Silk Girl (1932). Neue Sachlichkeit displays documentary tendencies in as much as it provides direct, quasi-filmic access to a hitherto unknown, everyday social reality. Drawing on the conceptual shifts in the notion of documentary literature since WWII, this paper will show that the aforementioned texts owe their documentary effect not simply to their referentiality, but rather to various acts and effects of citation, integration and active framing. In particular, we will highlight the importance of the more subjective and transitory auditory perception, especially in light of the documentary value readily attributed to visual documents. We will do so by focusing on the description of motion and speed and on the thematization of popular culture. The acoustic dimension is of particular relevance to both authors: while Keun's version of Neue Sachlichkeit is closely linked up with gender implications, the comparison of Jünger's recently published notebooks, including the war diaries, allows us to assess the amount of staging and authentication in a text that was initially applauded for its sense of gripping testimony and unabridged immediacy.
Keywords
documentary literature, Irmgard Keun, Ernst Jünger, Neue Sachlichkeit, New Objectivity, authenticity, Authentizität

Citation

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Chicago
Festjens, Thijs, and Gunther Martens. 2019. “A Re-evaluation of Documentary Tendencies in Neue Sachlichkeit.” In Literature as Document: Generic Boundaries in 1930s Western Literature, ed. Sarah Bonciarelli, Carmen Van den Bergh, and Anne Reverseau. Vol. 90. Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Rodopi.
APA
Festjens, T., & Martens, G. (2019). A re-evaluation of documentary tendencies in Neue Sachlichkeit. In S. Bonciarelli, C. Van den Bergh, & A. Reverseau (Eds.), Literature as Document: Generic Boundaries in 1930s Western Literature (Vol. 90). Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Rodopi.
Vancouver
1.
Festjens T, Martens G. A re-evaluation of documentary tendencies in Neue Sachlichkeit. In: Bonciarelli S, Van den Bergh C, Reverseau A, editors. Literature as Document: Generic Boundaries in 1930s Western Literature. Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Rodopi; 2019.
MLA
Festjens, Thijs, and Gunther Martens. “A Re-evaluation of Documentary Tendencies in Neue Sachlichkeit.” Literature as Document: Generic Boundaries in 1930s Western Literature. Ed. Sarah Bonciarelli, Carmen Van den Bergh, & Anne Reverseau. Vol. 90. Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Rodopi, 2019. Print.
@incollection{4322818,
  abstract     = {Our article aims to reassess the documentary aspects of two authors and texts that, for diverging reasons, have been considered as hallmarks of Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity): Ernst J{\"u}nger's Storm of Steel (1920, 1978) and Irmgard Keun's The Artificial Silk Girl (1932). Neue Sachlichkeit displays documentary tendencies in as much as it provides direct, quasi-filmic access to a hitherto unknown, everyday social reality. Drawing on the conceptual shifts in the notion of documentary literature since WWII, this paper will show that the aforementioned texts owe their documentary effect not simply to their referentiality, but rather to various acts and effects of citation, integration and active framing. In particular, we will highlight the importance of the more subjective and transitory auditory perception, especially in light of the documentary value readily attributed to visual documents. We will do so by focusing on the description of motion and speed and on the thematization of popular culture. The acoustic dimension is of particular relevance to both authors: while Keun's version of Neue Sachlichkeit is closely linked up with gender implications, the comparison of J{\"u}nger's recently published notebooks, including the war diaries, allows us to assess the amount of staging and authentication in a text that was initially applauded for its sense of gripping testimony and unabridged immediacy.},
  author       = {Festjens, Thijs and Martens, Gunther},
  booktitle    = {Literature as Document: Generic Boundaries in 1930s Western Literature},
  editor       = {Bonciarelli, Sarah and Van den Bergh, Carmen and Reverseau, Anne},
  isbn         = {978-90-04-38425-5},
  language     = {eng},
  publisher    = {Rodopi},
  series       = {Textxet. Studies in comparative literature},
  title        = {A re-evaluation of documentary tendencies in Neue Sachlichkeit},
  url          = {http://www.literarystudies.ugent.be/node/13948},
  volume       = {90},
  year         = {2019},
}