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Edited by Walter Bernhart

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Series:

Edited by Walter Bernhart

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Edited by Walter Bernhart

The main section of this volume of essays addresses the topic of ‘Performativity in Literature and Music’, a subject of high contemporary relevance since a substantial part of recent reflections in the humanities are concerned with the performance aspect of cultural activities, particularly in the arts. This decisive reorientation of scholarly interests in the arts, trendily called the ‘performative turn’, has yielded significant contributions to an increasingly refined understanding of artistic processes from an up-to-date perspective, and specifically what has been called the ‘crisis of the work concept’ has sharpened our awareness of the need of finding the ‘proper’ object of such scholarly investigations, which, as in most traditional studies, cannot be exclusively the written documents of our cultural heritage, but additionally, and essentially so, their actualizations in performance situations.
This volume for the first time offers a set of careful case studies from a wide range of artistic genres (narrative fiction, poetry, opera, instrumental music, songs, jazz) and historical phases (from Elizabethan verse to 21st-century HD opera performances) which give detailed insight into consequences of addressing issues of performativity in the field of word and music studies. Closely examined examples range, in music, from the romantic reception of Bach and the opera singer Maria Malibran through Mahler and Schoenberg to Brigitte Fassbaender, Philip Glass and Charles Mingus, and, in literature, from Sidney through Yeats and Celan to Katherine Mansfield, Alejo Carpentier and Toni Morrison.
In addition, the volume contains a smaller section on ‘Surveying the Field’ of word and music studies which includes an essay of general reflection on interart relationships and an attempt at identifying new features of the ‘musicalization of fiction’.
This collection of essays will be relevant to students and scholars from a wide variety of fields: performance studies, intermediality studies, art theory, musicology, voice studies, literary criticism, and philosophy.
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Walter Bernhart

Abstract

‘Intermediality’ has become a fashionable centre of interest in today’s cultural and literary criticism. While ‘interart studies’ – the traditional domain of intermedial research – have tended, as a branch of ‘Comparative Arts’ or ‘Comparative Literature’ separate from the national philologies, to deal with all sorts of contacts between literature and such ‘high’ arts as music or painting, this essay argues in favour of a literature-centred investigation of contacts between verbal art and works of other media regardless of their status as high art and above all for a (re-)integration of such investigations into traditional national philologies. Presenting a short survey of some intermedial contacts occurring in the history of English fiction and taking Virginia Woolf’s “The String Quartet” as a main example of how another medium can shape fiction, the essay also shows that the concept of intermediality does not necessarily divert attention from the genuine concerns of ‘Literaturwissenschaft’, as conservative scholars might fear, but on the contrary is a valid tool for the elucidation of important theoretical and historical aspects of literature.

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Walter Bernhart

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This essay focusses on functional analysis as a hitherto neglected part of intermediality studies. To begin with, the concept of ‘function’, some methodological difficulties concerning all Funktionsgeschichte and some ways of dealing with them are discussed. The main focus, however, is on an illustration of intermedial functional analysis in the field of twentieth-century musicalized fiction in English. After outlining some general connotations and hence functional potentials which music as fiction’s ‘Other’ has acquired in the course of history, the following functional dimensions are highlighted and related to the cultural and in particular aesthetic contexts of modernism and postmodernism: the musicalization of fiction a) as an expression and a reinforcement of the will to experimental transgressions of established (aesthetic) boundaries; b) as a means of following the (post-)modernist tendency towards self-referentiality and self-reflexivity; 
c) as a response to the (modernist) concern with a resensualization of art and with a-rational states of consciousness; d) as a response to the (post-)modernist feeling of an increased complexity and fragmentation of existence; and e) as a response to the (post-)modernist distrust of traditional, mimetic storytelling. To conclude, the problem of attributing specific functions of intermediality to historical contexts such as modernism and postmodernism is dealt with, and perspectives of future research are mentioned.