Serial Narration in Popular German-Language Periodicals from 1850 to 1890

Sub-Project 8

Recent literary scholarship has analyzed popular periodicals with a particular focus on social theory and systems theory. What has largely been neglected, however, are questions of how German periodicals and magazines created seriality in the latter half of the nineteenth century and which modes of depiction and strategies for sustaining readerships were used for serialized effects.

This subproject on the early history of popular seriality seeks to close this research gap through systematic analyses of exemplary nineteenth-century newspapers as well as literary and cultural magazines. It aims to do so by pursuing two concerted objectives: First, it will investigate serialized forms of feuilleton novels published in the Kölnische Zeitung in terms of interdependencies between non-fictional and fictional texts. In doing so, it will also consider the political, cultural, and media-historical implications of serialized narration. Second, and closely connected with the first objective, the subproject will study serial forms of narration in representative magazine formats (Die Gartenlaube, Deutsche Rundschau, Deutsche Romanbibliothek zu Ueber Land und Meer). The magazines' overall composition (design, layout, organization of content, illustrations, advertisements) figures strongly in this context and will accordingly be analyzed as a serial program with regard to periodical distribution and reception.

We hypothesize that the successful models of serialized narration that evolved during the twentieth century have their origins in the periodicals of the nineteenth century. Thus, the subproject extends central objectives of the Research Unit's first funding period by addressing the historical emergence of serial techniques of narrative distinction. In addition, we ask how the evolving practice of collecting popular nineteenth-century periodicals, as seen in private archives and public libraries, influenced early forms and techniques of seriality.

Methodologically, the subproject combines a systematic compilation and analysis of a large textual corpus with a textual approach vested in a cultural and media-historical perspective on the forms and techniques of serial distinction created by periodicals.


Research Associate