Panel: Interviews with German Writers: Self-commentary, Self-presentation and
41st Anniversary Convention, Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA)
April 7-11, 2010
Montreal, Quebec - Hilton Bonaventure
Interviews with writers are among the youngest and most flourishing genres. Yet,
they have received only sparse scholarly attention in any systematic way. Rich
in form and functions, interviews serve writers to comment on and talk about
themselves and their writings. As popular and effective marketing tool of the
publishing industry, the genre has evolved as primary means of constructing an
author’s public persona. Depending on the writer and the interviewer, such
conversations can range from a secondary exchange about the writer’s works to
the actual production of an independent primary “text”. The complete works of
Heiner Müller (2008), for example, include as many as three volumes (about 2800
pages!) of interviews, thus making them the most prominent type of text in his
oeuvre. This raises questions about the distinction between text and paratext:
Do authors indeed, as Gérard Genette notably suggested, go into the interview
situation “rather passively and obviously without intellectual motivation?”
Moving beyond Genette’s stereotypical notion, this panel seeks to explore the
diversity and extraordinary productivity of the genre. We invite submissions on
any aspect of interviews with writers, from systematic analyses of genre
features, or historical perspectives (possibly going back to Eckermann’s
conversations with Goethe), to reflections on an author’s particular style and
performance. Possible questions are:
- Which strategies of self-presentation does a writer employ?
- What role do different concepts of authorship like the “poeta doctus”, the
“poeta vates”, the “genius”, the passive “scripteur”, or the politically
committed intellectual play?
- Where does the writer’s (subjective) sphere of competence (culture, politics,
economy, sports, etc.) end?
- Which narrative strategies do writers use in interviews (and to what extent
are those strategies connected to a writer’s texts)?
- How do writers use interviews in their ‘literary’/fictional texts?
- Where is the borderline between a writer’s “work” and a writer’s commentary on
Presentations can be in either German or English. Please submit 300 word
abstracts and a one-paragraph biographical sketch by September 30, 2009, to
Gundela Hachmann ([log in to unmask]) and Torsten Hoffmann
([log in to unmask]).
The German Studies Call for Papers List
Editor: Stefani Engelstein
Assistant Editor: Megan McKinstry
Sponsored by the University of Missouri
Info available at: http://www.missouri.edu/~graswww/resources/gerlistserv.html