German-Language Literature and Transnationalism

Stuart Taberner’s AHRC Fellowship explores transnationalism as a contemporary reality that ‘saturates’ everyday life in ways that leave none of us unaffected. Specifically, it responds to the AHRC ‘Translating Cultures’ theme and looks at the ways transnational flows (of people, ideas, culture, etc.) are being remediated in today’s German-language literature. How is transnationalism different from other concepts such as globalisation (the standardisation of services and products), internationalisation (greater engagement with other nations), mass mobility (tourism and migration as mass experiences), or digital networking, and how does it relate to today’s multi-directional translation of culture(s) back and forth across borders? How does it relate to ‘difficult pasts’ that are often conceived of ethnically or nationally, e.g. the legacy of National Socialism and the Holocaust, but which are now also beginning to be operative transnationally? Taberner’s study frames Germany as an exemplary transnational space in which the ambivalences of transnationalism are being played out in an acutely pressing and concentrated fashion.

In the UK, it is planned to exploit the insights generated by the research by means of radio segments on transnationalism’s impact on national and global cultures, memories of ‘difficult pasts’, and live concerns (e.g. the UK’s colonial history). In South Africa, it is planned to exploit the project’s insights into literature’s engagement with the dialectic of parochialism and cosmopolitanism in relation to the past and the risks and opportunities of encounters between different values and beliefs to promote engagement between diverse and often divided communities.