The research unit derives its conceptual resources from a shared terminology. The terms have, on the one hand, already been defined – the result of several years of collaboration. On the other hand, the unit has at its disposal a set of explorative terms; it is testing their cross-project scope in its sub-project work and in the exchange between the sub-projects.
Definition of terms:
The research unit takes the terms paratext and flow – modelled by journal literature and related to each other – as its conceptual core. We see their strength, on the one hand, in their media-comparative potential: because they were originally conceptualised on the basis of other media, they help to define the specific aspects of the journal, so the project of a media literature history is integral to them. On the other hand, they allow – in fact, they demand – a systematic survey of what, on the journal page, cannot be separated, and what we mean by the superordinate term ‘journal literature’: the juxtaposing, sequencing and interlacing of texts and images across the whole spectrum of periodical formats. In addition – and practically superordinate to the conceptual development –, there is a graduated concept of format that is essential for the differentiated description and interrelation of objects of investigation.
Format: In the typographic understanding of printing practice, the book format provides, on the concrete material level, information about the number of pages per sheet as well as the approximate height of the book. Based on this typographic format – which, in the typography handbooks of the 19th century, typically correlates with particular layout decisions as well as with media that are characterised by a particular typographic dispositif –, the research unit postulates a more abstract concept of format in order to denote a differentiation based on the material manifestation. In this sense, we use the term format to denote the basic difference between the journal form and the book form as media, as well as the modes of publication, distribution and reception resulting from the respective ‘formatting’. In order to achieve a differentiated, nuanced gradation, we distinguish between the following three levels: we use the term media format to denote the set of norms that characterises the frequency of publication and the appearance of journal (i.e. newspaper or magazine) and book respectively, as well as of intermediate forms of serial publications, such as the serial work or the literary literary almanac, which sit between these poles. With the term generic format we differentiate between different genre-specific types within the respective media format, e.g. within the journal media format, between types of magazine and newspaper such as correspondence, information, entertainment and illustrated family publications. Within the generic format we differentiate by the specific format of the individual genre representative, e.g. the Illustrirte Zeitung or the Neue Rundschau.
Paratext/Peritext: In contrast to the relative homogeneity of the media format of the book, the media format of the journal is defined by the fact that “viele unterschiedliche Texte (und Bilder) der Rahmung durch die periodisch erfolgende Veröffentlichung unterliegen” and “das publizistische Datum” combines “das Nacheinander ihrer Texte und Bilder zu einem Nebeneinander.” To denote this heterogeneous juxtaposition, we draw on the term paratext, coined by Gérard Genette in 1987 in Seuils (Paratexts Thresholds of Interpretation), and modify it from a journal literature perspective.
With his concept of paratextuality – which incorporates (autographic) peritexts and (allographic) epitexts, differentiated by the criterion of authorship – Genette draws attention to the fact that, essentially, the course is set for the reception of a text by the texts that frame it. However, the textually framed text – framed on multiple levels – is conceived, both emphatically and self-evidently, as in book form and literary. Furthermore, in contrast to the peritexts and epitexts – i.e. the paratexts – framing it, it is conceived unquestioningly in the singular. This self-evident way of thinking of texts as being in book form – and in fact in monographic book form as works, not as parts of an edited volume, an anthology or a literary almanac series – is called into question by the many different manifestations of media format competing in the literary market of the 19th century. The research unit responds to this by conceptually diversifying and a modally extending the concept of the paratext.
Conceptually, the research unit allows for the fact that in non-monographic media formats (magazine, newspaper, literary almanac, anthology, edited volume) the individual text is not published as a paratextually framed text in the singular but is surrounded by other texts in terms of spatial simultaneity and (in the case of periodical media formats) temporal sequentiality. The reception of the text is not only framed by title, author name and footnotes (i.e. paratexts – in Genette’s sense – related to the respective text) but also by the surrounding texts on the journal page, in the journal number, in the series number, in the literary almanac volume, or in the anthology (each, for their part, framed in the same way). We use the term paratextuality to describe this heterogeneous juxtaposition (Greek: parά, ‘next to’). The research unit differentiates this from Genette’s concept of paratext in terms of textual theory in the sense that – in our understanding – paratextuality comes about spatially via a relation of contiguity, i.e. it does not assume that the paratexts are conceived a priori as framing one centrally placed text. Instead, framing is understood dynamically as the result of the respective reception decision – possibly steered by typography – regarding the text currently being read. In the act of reading, the surrounding texts behave paratextually towards the text that is being read, and vice versa. On the other hand, we call Genette’s ‘Beiwerk’ (title, genre indication, author/artist name, continuation markers, editorial footnotes, etc.) – which are directly related to the individual text – peritexts (Greek: perί ›around‹).
From a journal literature perspective, all of this can be applied, of course, not only to texts but also to images that programmatically define the ‘face’ of media formats in journal form or the intermediate form of the literary literary almanac. The two conceptually modified terms paratext/peritext are therefore modally extended, producing comparability across media formats and modalities in terms of relations and interactions between text and text, text and image, and image and text within the media framework of the respective place of publication.
Flow: In 1975 Raymond Williams tried to capture a particular reception experience with the concept of flow. This experience goes together with a particular order of content specific to the medium of television: flow programming produces flow experience. Williams assumes here that this experience represents an innovation in commercial programming which first of all dissects content, temporal and causal connections through commercial breaks, multiple references forwards and backwards, and the dramaturgical structure, and then integrates the fragmentary elements into a flow that is no longer bound to text boundaries or elements defined by content. The research unit draws on Williams and uses ‘flow’ as a heuristic category in order to demonstrate (this time in opposition to Williams) that the journals of the 19th century already refer to analogous experiences. Dissecting texts across pages and editions, juxtaposing the heterogeneous, placing advertisements in articles, texts referring to images located elsewhere in the journal and therefore requiring the reader to leaf through it – all this seems to aspire to convert the organisation of textual elements across the board into a sequence of experiences in which the boundaries of individual elements dissolve and merge into an integrative flow. The concept of flow not only draws attention to a thus far underexposed aspect of the journal, but also makes it possible to locate the journal in terms of media history.