The Transnational Beat Generation in Austria (2)

Neuere deutsche Literatur

Projektleitung: Thomas Antonic

Projektteam: Paul Pechmann

Projektlaufzeit: 1. März 2021 – 28. Februar 2025

FWF Fonds zur Förderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung (P34315)

The project examines connections between Austrian literature from circa 1960 to the present with the so called “Beat Generation”. This label was coined by a group of writers in the United States of America in the late 1940s, among them the poet Allen Ginsberg, the novelist Jack Kerouac, and the experimental writer William S. Burroughs. It has been considered as a solely US-American movement for decades. But in recent years a transnational turn in research on the Beat Generation emerged. The movement ceased to be regarded as a purely US-American phenomenon and is instead perceived as a global one by now – even though the protagonists did not always know of each other and/or did not consider themselves as Beat writers. As a location for literature in the Beat context, Austria has not yet been researched in this respect. The project thus bridges a significant gap in several areas (transnational German/Austrian studies and American studies, Beat studies) and also integrates disciplines such as gender, theatre, and exile studies.

The project will establish a catalogue of characteristics to define Beat criteria, based upon primary sources and academic research. It will then detect such criteria among the works and biographies of Austrian writers by examining intertextual references, appropriation of themes, forms, processes and modes of presentation as well as biographical points of contact. The corpus includes internationally renowned authors such as Elfriede Jelinek, Wolfgang Bauer and Peter Handke as well as representatives of the neo-avant-garde (e.g. Oswald Wiener, Gunter Falk), the main protagonists of the Vienna Schule für Dichtung and authors of a younger generation. Central to the project are also the life and work of the Austro-American Beat poet ruth weiss.

The primary aim of the project is to continue the work carried out within the project Transnational Literature: Austria and the Beat Generation (2017–2021) and to present a comprehensive monograph, which on the one hand condenses the results of biographical and text-analytical research into case studies, and on the other hand provides a bibliography that spans several decades as an empirical basis of sources for various research questions, especially those concerning transfer mechanisms and transnational networks between US-American and Austrian literature since the late 1950s.