Around the turn of the 20th century, the German-speaking world underwent a rediscovery of myth in various fields from Archeology to Classics to Philosophy to Psychology. This new engagement coincides with and significantly influences literary modernism in Germany. While there are many literary texts that employ myth in the early 20th century – by Hermann Broch, Thomas Mann, Bertolt Brecht, and expressionist poets, for example –, writers rely on myths throughout the last century. Myth provided a means for political expression in the GDR (Christa Wolf, Stefan Heym); writers like Monika Maron or Elfriede Jelinek rely on mythical tropes in their novels; the myth of the Great City was revived by Nicolai Alban Herbst’s Anderswelt-trilogy; and in the wake of the fall of the Berlin wall, a whole new era of myth and alleged myth is developing. In philosophical discourse, meanwhile, thinkers such as Adorno and Hans Blumenberg provide theoretical frameworks for analyzing myth appropriation in the 20th century.
This panel seeks to explore myth in modern German literature. It
is interested in reevaluations or reinterpretations of myth in
classical modernity; more recent examples of myth adaptations; or
theoretical approaches to myth and cultural production in the
German-speaking world in the 20th and 21st centuries.
Contributions on single authors or works or broader
conceptual/theoretical papers are welcome. The guiding question of
the panel is: how is myth adapted and what is its function within
the examined work, timeframe, or societal context?
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