Article Details

In: KulturPoetik 2020, Issue 2


Peter C. Pohl


Wie viel Gegenwart verträgt die aktuelle literaturwissenschaftliche Kontextdiskussion? Ein Versuch am Beispiel von Gerhard Henschels Schlosser-Zyklus




In recent issues of KulturPoetik Jan Borkowski, Manfred Engel and Martina King contributed to a fruitful debate about the implications of context-oriented literary criticism and presented methodological alternatives to the status quo. My essay will outline some of their propositions and review other concepts, namely Moritz Baßler’s and Lutz Danneberg’s. My goal is to point out two tendencies in current context-approaches. On the one hand, most of the researchers find extratextual contexts negligible and suggest to exclude e. g. social elements or media-technological surroundings. On the other hand, the present seems to play a strange role among the contributions. Whereas the interpretations focus on historical artefacts in order to execute a clean selection of contexts, contemporary ›Lebenswelt‹ serves implicitly as an ideal for context variety and context accessibility. The second part of the essay therefore sketches out a context-oriented analysis of contemporary literature, using the example of Gerhard Henschel’s autofictional novels. With their use of cut-up-techniques the novels guide us directly to the historical contexts of the writer’s relatively recent past. But with its formal choices and aesthetic preferences the ›text‹ also provides us with a ›key‹ for its reception in the actual literary field of contemporary Germany.