Book Publications

What Literature Knows

Forays Into Literary Knowledge Production

Edited by Antje Kley and Kai Merten

What Literature Knows

ISBN: 978-3-631-75787-1; EUR 65,40

Frankfurt am Main: Lang, 2018, 341 pp.

Literature and Knowledge seeks to shed light on two interrelated dimensions of the underdetermined and capacious nexus between knowledge and literature. The volume’s contributions address forms of literary writing from the early modern period to the present as media staging and reflecting concepts of knowledge and negotiating the historically and culturally specific interrelation of epistemology (both individual and collective), materiality, and representation (Horatschek). At the same time, the essays converge in a conception of literature as a culturally embedded form of knowledge production in its own right. In contrast to quantifiable empirical forms of knowledge production in such fields as the natural sciences, engineering, medicine, and parts of the social sciences and economics, literature deploys narrative, poetic and discursive methods of exploration, experimentation, interrogation, claiming and confirmation. Its guiding value is not scientific truth but a notion of truth that is built around historically shifting semantics from beauty to coherence and attraction. While empirical forms of knowledge production seek to produce a “view from nowhere” (Nagel, Daston) in order to achieve the ideal of objective verifiability, literary writing provides a decidedly interested, socially situated “view from somewhere” (Kley) in order to produce meaning and accrete credibility (Mohanty). As many of the volume’s essays confirm, literature also knows that the notion of reliable knowledge is a contested one.

The essays explore literary writing as formally, rhetorically and generically rich archive of re-descriptions of the world attempting to surprise, seduce, enchant or shock readers into reading other people’s minds, into accessing institutional environments and social interactions in a different key, and into seeing individual self-understandings as socially mediated (Felski). Interconnecting formalist and political protocols of reading, the volume articulates a more plastic sense of how philological expertise in imaginary and historiographical processes of meaning making, in conceptual clarification, in the negotiation of uncertainty, complexity, heterogeneity, and particularity (Turner, Kelleter) may generate productively irritating forms of connectivity to other knowledge discourses. Contributions explore literary writing, both in its popular and its culturally distinguished forms, as a way of thinking and endeavor to follow its imaginary roads to encounter vast and diversified knowledge landscapes.

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Women, Camp, and Popular Culture. Serious Excess

Katrin Horn

Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan, 2017, 264 pp.

ISBN 978-3-319-64846-0 ; EUR 96,29

This innovative study claims camp as a critical, yet pleasurable strategy for women’s engagement with contemporary popular culture as exemplified by 30 Rock or Lady Gaga. In detailed analyses of lesbian cinema, postfeminist TV, and popular music, the book offers a novel take on its subject. It defines camp as a unique mode of detached attachment, which builds on affective intensity and emotional investment, while strongly encouraging a critical edge.



  • …provides an overview over the politics of camp across different formats in contemporary media landscape
  • …proposes a new defintion of camp as detached attachment to account for the strategy’s unique combination of critical distance and affective involvement
  • …investigates the uses of camp in popular culture as a form of parodic intervention by women
  • …features detailed analysis not only of the visual aspects of Lady Gaga’s music videos but connects these to her live performances and the use of voice for queer effects
  • …ascertains camp’s value in countering recent media trends such as lesbian chic and postfeminism

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Stimme, Kultur, Identität: Vokaler Ausdruck in der populären Musik der USA, 1900-1960

Edited by Katrin Horn, Martin Pfleiderer, Tilo Hähnel, and Christian Bielefeldt

Bielefeld: transcript, 2015, 518 pp.stimme-kultur-identitat

ISBN 978-3-8394-3086-6 ; EUR 36,99

Dieses Buch widmet sich den Stimmen und Gesangsweisen in der populären Musik der USA. Am Beispiel von Sängerinnen und Sängern aus den Bereichen Vaudeville, Gospel, Blues, American Popular Song, Musical, Jazz, Country, Folk, Rhythm & Blues, Rock’n’Roll und Soul beschreiben die Beiträge detailliert, wie vokale Ausdrucksmittel einander über Genregrenzen hinweg beeinflusst haben und wie sich in ihnen Images, kulturelle Stereotypen und kollektive Identitäten spiegeln.
Die Verknüpfung von musikanalytischen mit kulturwissenschaftlichen Forschungsansätzen gibt neue Impulse für die Auseinandersetzung mit populärer Musik und populärem Gesang.

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Rural America

Edited by Antje Kley and Heike Paul

Heidelberg: Universitätsverlag Winter, 2015, 510 pp.
ISBN 978-3-8253-6383-3; EUR 70

Rural_America“The United States was born in the country”, Richard Hofstadter once wrote, “and remained emotionally attached to it long after it had moved away”, David B. Danbom added in his ‘History of Rural America’. Thus it may be argued that the study of American culture and civilization, first and foremost, needs to make sense of the rural. This multidisciplinary volume focuses on rural America, on areas seemingly apart from the political, economic, and cultural centers of the nation. Despite this apparent marginality, the rural often proves to be constitutive not only of regional but also of other subnational and even national American identities. Putting rurality at the center thus problematizes the well-established dichotomous models of city vs. country. The contributors to this volume address the rural as a mythic construction (e.g. as the American “Heartland” and as the centerpiece of a US pastoral tradition), as a (socio-)economic sector, as an imaginary time-space within American culture, and as the site of specific political, social, and cultural practices with, at times, transnational/global implications. The various perspectives on rural America are drawn from the fields of history, sociology, cultural studies, literary studies, environmental studies, and journalism.
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Ideas of Order: Narrative Patterns in the Novels of Richard Powers

Edited by Antje Kley and Jan D. Kucharzewski

Heidelberg: Universitätsverlag Winter, 2012, 316 pp.
ISBN: 978-3-8253-6081-8; EUR 42

Kley_Ideas of OrderInvestigating the distinct poetics of Richard Powers’ writing, this volume demonstrates that the author’s complex body of fictional work warrants much more focused and systematic critical attention than it has received so far. The essays explore how Powers’ work oscillates between the poles of realism and metafictional postmodernism, creating narratives in which the conventions of realism are both deployed and undermined, in which characters are simultaneously presented as motivated agents and as textual constructs. By conceptualizing Powers’ novels as texts in which order is both a central and a consciously fictional idea, the essays collected in this volume discuss how Powers’ densely structured fictions indicate the potential of a concrete relation between life and literature that manifests itself in an inherently narrative vision of human consciousness.
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No Maps for These Territories: Cities, Spaces, and Archeologies of the Future in William Gibson

Karin Höpker

Amsterdam/New York, NY: Rodopi, 2011, 254 pp.
ISBN: 978-90-420-3353-5; EUR 50/USD 68

Höpker_No MapsNo Maps for These Territories offers an archaeology of seemingly tried and trusted concepts: cartography, architecture, urban space. While rethinking Michel Foucault’s theories, Karin Hoepker reconstructs the cartographic dispositives of spatial order. The futuristic fictional cityscapes of science fiction writer William Gibson are the touchstone for this epistemological analysis and typology of spatial formations. In seven probing chapters that focus on architectural blueprints, forms of inhabitation, Wunderkammern, and economic formations of retail, consumption, and entertainment such as shopping malls, amusement parks, and gambling meccas, Hoepker investigates a set of exemplary phenomena crucial to the fields of architecture, geography, philosophy, cartography, history of science, literary studies, and the arts. No Maps for These Territories thus offers close readings of fictional, philosophical, and theoretical texts, and examines instructive examples of the workings of spatial production. In a form of contrastive writing, the monograph sheds critical light on theoretical and fictional texts equally.
The book is a revised version of the author’s doctoral dissertation in American Studies at the FAU Erlangen-Nuremberg, in the context of the German Federal Research Fund’s specialized doctoral program “Cultural Hermeneutics: Reflections on Difference and Transdifference.”
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Ethik – Anerkennung – Gerechtigkeit: Philosophische, literarische und gesellschaftliche Perspektiven

Edited by Antje Kley, Alexandra Böhm, and Mark Schönleben

Munich: Wilhelm Fink, 2011, 422 pp.
ISBN: 978-3-7705-5053-1; EUR 49.90

Kley_Ethik - Anerkennung - GerechtigkeitSeit den 1990er Jahren zeigt sich im politisch-gesellschaftlichen und im ästhetisch-kulturellen Feld eine Hinwendung zu ethischen Fragestellungen und Themenfeldern, die unter dem Schlagwort des ethical turn kontrovers diskutiert werden. Die hier versammelten philosophischen, literaturwissenschaftlichen und soziologischen Analysen konkretisieren Leitlinien dieser interdisziplinären Diskussion unter Rückgriff auf kulturwissenschaftliche und poststrukturalistische Theorien. Die Beiträge thematisieren die Konstitution von Subjekten und Gemeinschaften, das Verhältnis von Erinnerung und Gerechtigkeit, sowie Formen gelingender oder verweigerter Anerkennung. Dabei steht im Fokus, wie mediale und narrative Repräsentationen Prozesse der Normbildung reflektieren sowie sozialphilosophische Positionen zu Individualethik und sozialer Gerechtigkeit ergänzen bzw. transformieren.
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Ethik medialer Repräsentation im britischen und US-amerikanischen Roman, 1741 – 2000

Antje Kley

Heidelberg: Winter, 2009, 521 pp.
ISBN: 978-8253-5438-1; EUR 48

Kley_MedienethikIn the Western world, successive modernization syndromes (S.J. Schmidt) and the related experience of transcendental homelessness have, since the 18th century, turned ethical questions into an object of public debate. Within this context, novels have been engaged in constituting and critiquing the concepts of individual autonomy and responsibility which are central to the modern discourse of ethics. Starting from this assumption, this transatlantic study draws on media history and the ethical turn in order to demonstrate how the practice of narration in modern British and US-American novels recurrently assumes the ethical function of confronting and familiarizing readers with increasingly media-contingent modes of perception and evaluation. This happens, as exemplary studies of selected novels by Richardson, Brown, Hawthorne, Eliot, Thorpe und Powers demonstrate, in thematic and formal reflections on the media, which have been addressing printing technology since the mid 18th century, the industrialization of visual culture since the mid 19th century, and the digital integration of the media since the late 20th century.
The monograph is based on the author’s habilitation thesis which was written and examined at the Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel, Germany.
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