Recursiveness: Mnemopoetics of Journal Literature 1813 – 1863 – 1913 (SP 2)


The proposed project examines acts of memory stimulated, discussed and reflected upon by journal media. Our inquiry analyses mnemopoietic, experimental forms of writing time displaying a logic of commemoration, exploring the tension between the immediate documentation of events and historiographical narratives characterised by greater temporal distance. The study’s underlying premise is that due to media-specific qualities, namely topicality, perdiodicity, incompleteness/seriality and paratextuality, journals are preordained to select dates and events in the recursive logic of anniversaries or jubilees, to recall them and shape them, thereby marking them as essentially historical and worthy of historiography. The subproject analyses this phenomenon via the concept of ‘recursiveness’, which as an ordering figure of recurrence combines the periodicity of the journal and forms of periodic commemoration. The focus will be on mnemopoietic writings on the German Campaign of 1813–1815 in what were novel formats: journal-type pieces, anthologies and texts dedicated to memory work, for instance in the form of ‘retrospective’ accounts – predominantly synchronic accounts of the period from 1813 to 1818, or diachronic narratives of the 1863 and 1913 jubilee years commemorating the Battle of the Nations at Leipzig, revealing greater frequency or displacements in publication cycles.

In this new perspective, the synchronic approach examines, firstly, the corpus of TP 2.1  (which veritably exploded in the course of the project), i.e. journals displaying irregular periodicity, and, secondly, journals that appeared regularly: the National-Zeitung der Deutschen (1796–1811, 1814–1829), the Vaterländische Blätter für den österreichischen Kaiserstaat (1808–1820), the Frankfurter Ober-Postamts-Zeitung (1615–1866), the Morgenblatt für gebildete Stände (1807–1865) and the Leipziger Tageblatt (1807–1925). The longitudinal analyses will examine the Wiener Zeitung (1703–1940), the Allgemeine Zeitung (1798–1929), the Leipziger Zeitung (1810–1918), the Illustrirte Zeitung (1843–1944) and the Berliner Illustrirte Zeitung (1892–1945).

The analytical approach assumes three occasionally interactive forms of mnemopoietic writing: (1) acts of memory stimulated and executed by the respective medium, for instance in the form of event-related appeals or expectations whose mere articulation generates commemoration (the performative-material dimension); (2) those that take up written time and re-enact it within the respective media logic, for example in the form of significant fusion of different events or the ordering of contemporary events into pre-existing interpretations (the constellational-serial dimension); (3) forms of reflective insight within the respective medium, in that mnemopoietic acts are reflected upon, discussed and examined with respect to their regularity (the reflective-mnemopoietological dimension). The aim is to produce a nuanced definition of the structures and rules of mnemopoietic processing of the ‘immediate’ chronicle conditioned by the media format and hence of second-order forms of writing time. The subproject thereby charters relatively unknown terrain. Historians examine journal-type media formats primarily as sources, focussing on what they report, while literary studies mainly focuses on publications in book form, and on the rare occasions it does examine journal-type writings, the focus is on the ‘text’. What such approaches thus neglect to take into account is the communicative medium’s format-specific contribution to the commemorative logics applied to the German Campaign. This subproject seeks to fill this lacuna by taking a media- and materials-based approach.