More Is More: Rules and Riddles of 19th-Century Vielschreiberei (MLA 2022)
More Is More: Rules and Riddles of 19th-Century Vielschreiberei
19th- and Early 20th-Century German Forum – Panel Series
MLA Convention in Washington, D.C. (January 6–9, 2022)
There have always been Vielschreiberinnen and Vielschreiber, or writers whose extraordinary levels of productivity mystified their peers. In the second half of the nineteenth century, however, when the industrialization of textual production led to an unprecedented increase in the volume of print, Vielschreiberei attained renewed importance and a new meaning: now a commonplace accusation, it became synonymous with mediocrity, unoriginality, and a lack of depth. The suspicion was that Vielschreiber/innen merely replicated the logic of mass production in their own output, embodying nothing but the laws of the literary market. The aim of this panel series is to challenge this facile narrative and critically engage Vielschreiberei as a nineteenth-century phenomenon from a variety of different angles. Topics to be considered include—but are not limited to—the relationship of creativity and literary mass production; the aesthetics of mass-produced poetry and prose; real and imagined Bücherfabriken; material practices of hackwriting; and the emergence of counter-practices (e.g. slow print). We also welcome papers that profile the nineteenth-century Vielschreiber/in in the context of the social history of literature. Finally, the panel series seeks to engage critical questions about the methodological and conceptual challenges of measuring productivity and the potential of digital humanities approaches to quantify literary production.
Please submit 350-word abstracts and a short bio to Petra McGillen (firstname.lastname@example.org) by Friday, March 12, 2021. If your proposal is accepted, you must be an MLA member by April 7, 2021. You may only have two roles at the convention.