Transnational Literature: Austria and the Beat Generation

Neuere deutsche Literatur

Projektleitung: Thomas Antonic

Projektteam: Paul Pechmann

Projektlaufzeit: 1. April 2017 bis 28. Februar 2021

FWF Fonds zur Förderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung (P29348)

The primary aim of this project is to investigate the under-researched transnational intersections and connections between writers of the American Beat Generation and Austrian literature. By making these connections visible, an important and essential contribution of basic research can be made in several disciplines. Because of the high relevance of these transnational links, which had far-reaching impact on the literary field. especially in Austria after 1960, the project reveals and addresses a significant gap in knowledge of the literary life after 1945.

The project can provide scholarship with a radical and necessary reinterpretation of the works of several Austrian writers as Ernst Jandl, Wolfgang Bauer, Elfriede Jelinek, and many others. The Schule für Dichtung in Vienna (“Vienna Poetry School”) also plays an important role in the project due to the invitation of Allen Ginsberg, Anne Waldman, Ed Sanders, and many other poets to teach at the school since 1992. In addition contacts with Austrian literature and culture also play an important role in the works of certain Beat writers such as William S. Burroughs and ruth weiss. Analyses which focus on these transnational aspects can deliver crucial understanding of the works of the writers in question.

As traces of such links are not only to be found on a textual level, extratextual references should be taken in account as well. For many authors personal encounters were of considerable importance, not only for their own works, but also for their theoretical and technical developments. Thus, a transnational study, with a focus on sociological and (inter)textual analysis,, can be extremely revealing for the understanding of Austrian post-1945 literature and the works of Beat writers, as well as for transnational literary transfers in general. The examination of international contexts of national literatures and the study of transnational relations in experimental and avant-garde literature are emerging fields. Therefore the project is in line with recent developments and clearly timely. Moreover, by identifying, accessing and evaluating archival documents, and by interviewing protagonists and testimonies and making their accounts available as new material for the academia, the knowledge of literary and cultural relations between the United States and Austria after World War II can be increased and enhanced considerably.