About the Research Unit

Book publication still seems to be the norm in literary, graphic and photographic publication. In general, little attention has been paid to the fact that in the contemporary (first) reception, texts and images looked – in terms of their materiality – very different to readers, and that since the 18th century the book form has represented only one media option on the literary market. The “Journal Literature” research group takes this materiality as its starting point: guided by media-historical, material-philological and media and cultural studies research interests, the group studies texts and images in combined media form in their contemporary places of (first) publication. We study, across a diverse media spectrum, periodical formats from the ‘long’ 19th century which represented alternatives to the book and had an impact on the market and the public: primarily newspapers and magazines, but also intermediate forms such as the literary pocketbook or serial works. The intention, however, is not to play ‘journal literature’ off against ‘book literature’. Instead, the research aims to study the materiality of the medium as a basis for a re-evaluation of the media ensemble of journal literature and book literature in terms of the interplay between them. The medium-term goal is to create, through such material-oriented revision, the basis for a media literary history of the 19th century which takes into account the juxtaposition, cooperation and opposition of text and image as well as the meanings constituted by forms of distribution, visuality and archiving in journal and book literature.

Theoretically and conceptually, the research group stands in the tradition of material philology, which has developed since the 1990s in medieval studies as a counter-paradigm to author(text)-centred and work-centred edition philology à la Lachmann. This has, in principle, served as the model for the newer philologies to this day. By contrast, material philology – the conceptualisation of which developed from the exclusivity and material individuality of the manuscript in medieval studies – has considerable conceptual potential for exploring text-image constellations within journal literature from the point of view of paratextualisation, visual design and approaches to reception (cultures). This is because audience-oriented, visually designed and extensively illustrated written records in hybrid and anthology form are not only the norm for medieval manuscripts but also, in fact, for the heterogeneous diversity in journal culture in the 19th century.

Even if, in principle, the object of study is the whole spectrum of media within the journal and book literature of the ‘long’ 19th century, the theoretical premises of a material philology from a media history and media and cultural studies perspective have resulted in the research – by methodological necessity – focusing on examples. The following decisions on the scope of the research define the choice of corpus: (1) concentration on German language texts, (2) internationality via intertextuality and cooperation with international journal (literature) research, (3) comparative media in the transition between journal and book, text and image. On this common methodological basis, each of the research group’s six sub-projects focuses, from its own perspective, on a material aspect as a field of investigation that is not understood in terms of the work but in terms of the medium, conscious of the fact that the juxtaposition of paratextuality within journal literature – in terms of its surface composition – is not, in principle, intended as a means of delineation. Taken together, these sub-corpora illustrate, chronologically, the media spectrum between the media formats of journal and book from as many different angles as possible. This method, which aims to establish diversity, is made possible by the context of the research group, where each project finds a corrective in other projects. In this way, individual observations gathered from the material can extend within the systematic network to the entirety of journal and book culture:

SP 1   A Poetics of the Miscellaneous: On the Co-Evolution of the Periodical Press and the Modern Novel
(culture, family and literature journals; end of 18th to end of 19th C.)

SP 2   Zeit/Schrift (Journal: Time/Writing: Journal Literature ‘Chronopoetics‘ and the Genesis of Literariness
(political/politico-cultural chronicles; early 19th C.)

SP 3   Optical Appearances: mise en page in Journal versus Book Literature
(media format comparison of pocketbook, magazine, daily newspaper, anthology, edition of works; 1810s to 1860s)

SP 4   Text/Image Rivalries: Illustrations in Journal Text(ure)s
(magazines similar to newspapers; 1840s to 1860s)

SP 5   Fragment Constellations: Periodised and Serialised Photography (1845–1910)
(magazines similar to newspapers; mid-19th to beginning 20th C.)

SP 6   Framing Experiments: Cartoon Strips around 1900 in German Humorous-Satirical Publications and as US Newspaper Comic Strips
(humorous German magazines and American daily newspapers; end of 19th/beginning of 20th C.)