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Popular Music and the Poetics of Self in Fiction explores the various links between the self and popular music in contemporary fiction. In the novels discussed in this volume, musical references go far beyond creating a tapestry of sound, they make literary characters come alive by giving an account of the physiological and psychological effects of their musical experiences and of their ways of life in different (sub)cultural and social groups. With plots revolving around songs and albums, musicians and bands, and fans and scenes, the thematic focus on the self encompasses the relation of musical taste and identity construction, popular music’s function as a medium of individual and collective memory, and its uses in everyday life across decades, spaces, and genres.

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Norbert Bachleitner is Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of Vienna, Austria. His fields of interest include the reception of English and French literature in the German speaking area, literary translation and transfer studies, the social history of literature, censorship, literature in periodicals, intertextuality, and digital literature. His most recent book publication is Die literarische Zensur in Österreich von 1751 bis 1848 (2017).

Juliane Werner, Ph.D., is a member of the Department of Comparative Literature at the University of Vienna, Austria. Her teaching and research focuses on transcultural exchanges (Austria, France, USA), philosophical fiction, literature and psychiatry, word and music studies, and literary animal studies. She is the author of Thomas Bernhard und Jean-Paul Sartre (2016) and Existentialismus in Österreich. Kultureller Transfer und literarische Resonanz (2021).

Notes on Contributors

1 Popular Music and the Poetics of Self in Fiction
  Juliane Werner, Norbert Bachleitner

part 1
Popular Music Styles, Taste, and (Fan) Identities
2 On the End(s) of Identity Pop Music and the Fictional Self
  Claus-Ulrich Viol

3 The Three Ages of Fan Identity, Irony, and Post-Postmodernism in Roddy Doyle’s Popular Music Narratives
  Jeffrey Roessner

4 Shaman or Messiah? The Record Seller as a Higher Being in Virginie Despentes’s Vernon Subutex
  Diedrich Diederichsen

5 Changing Infrastructures of Musical Taste Formation?
  Jonathan Kropf

6 ‘Popularity is a game’ Music, Identity, and the Popular in Tom Cho’s Look Who’s Morphing
  Thomas Gurke

part 2
Cultural Contexts, Memoryscapes, and the Biographical Self
7 Montreal Bohemia and the Mile End Apartment Party Scene
  Will Straw

8 Appropriations in Pop Cultural Appropriation, Gentrification, and Retromania in Jonathan Lethem’s The Fortress of Solitude, Michael Chabon’s Telegraph Avenue, and Paul Beatty’s Slumberland
  Simon Nagy

9 A New Male Middle-Class Self? Rock Music in Norwegian Novels, 1966–1984
  Klaus Nathaus

10 Music, Media, and Memories in Serhiy Zhadan’s Voroshilovgrad
  Hannah Schroder

11 An Alternative Jazz Biography Ronald Pohl’s Kind aus Blau
  Norbert Bachleitner

12 Musical Self-Remembrance in Contemporary Literature Reflections on Friedrich Christian Delius’s Die Zukunft der Schönheit
  Nicola Gess

part 3
Intermedial Encounters, the Poetics of Pop, and Musician(s’) Fiction
13 How to Create a Unique Atmosphere in Fiction and Recorded Music Frank Witzel and The Beatles
  Peter Apfl

14 Intermedial Resonances and Narrative Dissonances in Steve Earle’s Music and Literature
  Daniel Stein

15 Fictitious Musicians – Fictitious Music?
  Daniel Syrovy

16 Fictional Transfigurations of Bob Dylan, or Writing the Unknowable
  Juliane Werner

17 To Believe in Neil Young His Music, Navid Kermani, the Prophet, and Søren Kierkegaard
  Stefan Kutzenberger

18 Reading as Listening – Listening as Reading Rock Novels from My Bookshelf
  Simon Frith


Students and researchers in Word and Music Studies, German Studies, English and American Studies, Comparative Literature, Musicology, Sociology, readers of contemporary fiction, pop music fans.
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