The Poetics of Seriality
Workshop organized by Elisabeth Bronfen and Christiane Frey
Under the general topic of “seriality,” this workshop will explore the function, structure and dynamics of conjunction (as opposed to subordination) in texts, films and other media. A “series” is a stringing-together or collation (Reihung) of elements that are all on the same hierarchical level. At the same time, it is more than an ad-hoc collection of disparate or desultory items. If it obeys an overriding law, it is a principle not of unity but of connection. This quality leads to paradoxical attributes: a “series” seems to be indefinitely extendable, but frequently “plays itself out” and comes to a spontaneous end; it appears over time, but can later be collected into a finished “work”; it is open but also in some sense closed. The poetics of the serial raises questions about the nature of beginnings and endings; fulfilling and foiling expectations; repetition and variation; singularity and plurality; the episodic versus the epic; the schematic versus the individual; open and closed forms; the law of genre; experimentation; enumeration and lists. The goal of this workshop is to bring together a small number of select scholars who are interested in the topic to discuss their ideas in an open forum.
10:30 a.m. – 12:30 pm:
Iteration as Aesthetic Principle in Language Based (Video) Performances
In her talk Claudia Benthien (University of Hamburg) will present and discuss four language-based video performances by the artists Jochen Gerz, Marina Abramović, Jürgen Klauke, and Holger Mader. In each of these media artworks a word or a phrase is repeated again and again by a performer until the dimension of meaning fades in favor of the materiality of linguistic signs and the voice. Iteration as an aesthetic principle of mediated performance will be discussed with regard to theories of literariness and contrasted to notions of repetition and seriality.
In her talk Elisabeth Bronfen (University of Zurich) will look at the HBO Series “The Wire” through the lens of Shakespeare’s history plays and their re-imagination of the War of Roses. At issue is the cultural survival and transformation of war as a series of games and the way both theater and television in turn offer up their serialized refiguration of political conflict.
2:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
The Poetics of Seriality – A Roundtable Discussion