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Prof. Dr. Oliver Jahraus

"'Versachlichung and Verdinglichung' as Leading Categories of the Media Culture in the Weimar Republic": Prof. Dr. Oliver Jahraus, Simon Eberle, M.A., Dr. Michaela Rass, supported by Birgit Schuhbeck and Dr. Tanja Prokić (German Literature)

Academic Year 2015/16

The project led by Oliver Jahraus along with Simon Eberle, Michaela Rass, and supported by Birgit Schuhbeck and Tanja Prokić, is concerned with the media culture of the Weimar Republic, which was characterized by a booming development in media technology, by competition between new forms of media (such as film and radio) and by a pluralism of the aesthetic positions involved therein. The small research group aims to examine the extent to which this field can be described according to the guiding differentiation between objectification and reification. These terms, which take on the function of key concepts in the contemporary debates, are understood as representing two fundamental principles of aesthetic production which can be ideal-typically observed in the contrast between new objectivity and expressionism: 'objectification' refers to the aesthetic representation of phenomena which follows the phantasm of an objective viewpoint. 'Reification' means the opposite aesthetic strategy, according to which the objects themselves – in the vein of expressionism – express themselves, overcome their object character and thus supposedly expose their own inherent aesthetic 'truth'.

In the course of the project, a model of the guiding differentiation between 'objectification' and 'reification' based on a systematic analysis of poetological and art criticism texts on the pluralized media culture in the Weimar Republic is to be developed. The intention is to open up a new approach to the media culture of the Weimar Republic and to make the Weimar Republic visible as an example of a pluralized media culture absolutely in today's sense of the phrase.

Working Group

  • As part of the CAS project, Michaela Raß in her book publication, will investigate the problem of objectification in film (both silent and sound film) during the Weimar Republic. A work is also to be produced that provides a systematization of methods, representation forms and functions of objectification in the work of Erich Kästner. As part of the CAS project, Michaela Raß will lead a workshop on film in the Weimar Republic.
  • Simon Eberle's dissertation project on ‚The Literaricity of Objectivity‘ is situated directly within the subject field of the CAS project. He will show that the innovative potential of the 'objective' literature during the period of the Weimar Republic lies precisely in the reduction of the literary character in favor of more objective formats, such as the report, while at the same time emphasizing this character. The dissertation will thus illuminate a specific literary aspect of the project idea. As part of the CAS project, Simon Eberle will lead a workshop on Siegfried Kracauer.

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