A conference organized by the project “Artefacts, Treasures and Ruins – Materiality and Historicity in the Literature of the English Middle Ages” in cooperation with the Cluster of Excellence “Temporal Communities: Doing Literature in a Global Perspective”
For premodern literatures, anonymity has often been considered to be the standard form in which texts are authored, while the named author has been seen as a characteristic of modernity. This perspective does not only imply a teleological narrative of Western literary history, but also elevates that history to the status of a universal model; anonymity is thus primarily perceived as a lack to be dealt with and as a cultural stage to be left behind. There are, however, plenty of examples in the history of Western literature itself that serve to undermine this perception. Not only do we have named authors in premodern contexts, but we encounter a powerful desire for the kind of textual authority associated with the named author – and, moreover, there are texts that evidently employ their authors’ namelessness deliberately. If we refuse to see anonymity as a form of lack, but rather acknowledge its potential as a strategic device or even as an aesthetic choice in its own right, then we can open up perspectives on alternative concepts of the literary, on alternative practices of ‘doing literature’ as well as on the alternative temporalities at play here.
Our conference “Anonymity and Temporality” will explore how various forms of anonymity have shaped temporalities of their own within a broad cultural and historical framework. Instead of seeing anonymity as a cultural given that simply occurs during a particular period in (European) literary history, we wish to conceive of it both as a specific cultural practice and as a strategic resource that contributes to shaping temporalities in premodern literatures and cultures in a global perspective.
Time & Location
Sep 08, 2022 - Sep 10, 2022
Freie Universität Berlin
Villa des SFB Episteme in Bewegung