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Roundtable 3: Intermedialities

Mary Helen Dupree
The Nineteenth-Century Declamation Anthology: Inventory, Script, Archive

My project is concerned with the media history of the nineteenth-century German declamation anthology (sometimes called a Deklamierbuch or Deklamatorium), with particular focus on its status as an inventory of repertoires and genres, as a source of “scripts” for declamatory performance, and an archive of both literary texts and knowledge about performance. As a textual practice, the declamation anthology was embedded in a nineteenth-century culture of literary declamation that emphasized the musicality of literature as well as its sensual and affective dimension. This culture of declamation centered on the popular practice of the declamatory concert, which integrated text and, in some instances, music in a concert format and was most frequently performed by actors or professional declamators, rather than the authors of the texts themselves. The popularity of the declamatory concert in the early nineteenth century led to the flourishing of a body of theoretical and practical literature on declamation by a host of authors, from Goethe and Fichte to professional declamators such as Christian Gotthold Schocher, Gustav Anton von Seckendorff, Carl Friedrich Solbrig and Theodor von Sydow. Evoking the rhetorical and rhapsodic practices of the ancients, these authors and performers sought to rescue declamation from what they perceived as its degraded status as a form of “dark singing” (dunkler Gesang), and to make the rules and standards for its practice readily accessible to a broad audience of professionals and laypeople, through remediation in the visual and verbal realms. To wit, declamation handbooks invariably included examples of texts to be read aloud, furnished with markings for emphasis and sometimes published in separate volumes. This supplementary genre quickly established itself as a separate category of publication, eventually leading to the proliferation of multivolume anthologies such as Solbrig’s 1813 Taschenbuch für die Schaubühne.

I argue that the proliferation of declamation anthologies around 1800 supported a practice of reading texts as scripts or scores for performance, which mirrored processes of textualization at work in musical cultures of the early nineteenth century. Texts were usually organized by genre and emotional tenor, in a way that mirrored the structure of the declamatory concert; most of them featured serious and comic poems, verse fables, monologues, prose pieces, and (less frequently) foreign-language texts (usually French or Latin). The selection and organization of texts in the anthologies also reflected nineteenth-century shifts in the literary landscape and discourses of canonicity: between the earliest declamatory anthologies around 1800, some of which were published for use in schools, and later ones, such as Theodor von Sydow’s critically panned 1819 anthology, Der Declamations-Saal, one can detect a pronounced shift from a largely eighteenth-century repertoire focusing on the works of Voss, Pfeffel, Schiller, and Goethe to one that emphasized less intellectually challenging works by Biedermeier authors and the Dresden “Pseudoromantics.” Such choices also reflect the status of the declamatory concert and the declamatory anthology as cultural practices that combined pedagogy with entertainment, often targeting youthful audiences. From a media-historical perspective, declamatory anthologies can be said to have functioned as early sound archives for popular consumption, anticipating later media such as mixtapes and record albums.

It is my contention that these declamation anthologies function as inventories not only of literary texts, but also of performance practices and modes of reading, as well as knowledge about the wider world. Through classification practices, extra-verbal markings, and direct addresses to the reader, they continuously point to the practice of the declamatory concert and the social rituals and speaking styles associated with it. At the same time, they offer their readers an inventory of general and ethical knowledge through the inclusion of texts in a variety of genres, a practice that becomes more diversified with the inclusion of “Oriental-style” texts and travel accounts in later anthologies such as Agnese Schebest’s Rede und Geberde (1861).

Ilinca Iurascu

Despite its commercial visibility during the long nineteenth century, the popular culture attraction known as Papiertheater (model-/ toy-theater) has been theoretically neglected for the most part. Statistics aside (dozens of publishers, more than a hundred literary adaptations, play books, miniature stage sets, and cut-out sheets for characters and props), the world of Papiertheater can be regarded as an intermedium, crossing between the figural, the haptic and the textual. As an entertainment practice, it stages, animates, orchestrates and manipulates the visual object, imbuing it with sound and touch, in a manner that goes beyond the regime of the (pre)photographic spectacle. In many ways, the Papiertheater phenomenon –peaking around the mid-19th century - co-exists and rivals with photo/cinematic technologies of image production and circulation, thus demanding a closer look at its conceptual and material regimes.

My own interests in the mechanisms and practices associated with the universe of the Papiertheater are threefold: first, to flesh out what I see as a specific relationship established between time and the image in the domain of toy theater; second, to consider the politics of image manipulation in its transition from theatrical publicity to domestic performativity. Looking at the particular example of Schiller’s Die Räuber adapted by Ernst Siewert for the famous publishing company of Jakob Ferdinand Schreiber (1878), I draw on the notion of “miniature time” (see Stewart: 1993) to trace the reformulation of the grand gestures of melodrama (and its engagement with historical change) into the small-scale universe of paper cut-outs. Here, Harold Innis’ classic definition of paper as a medium oriented towards space (rather than time) finds an interesting reformulation: transposed in the privacy of the bourgeois interior, the paper cut-out alerts us not to its transient character, but rather to its capacity for historical manipulation. Finally, I am interested in the remediation practices that orchestrate and enable this kind of historical engagement: to paraphrase a classic McLuhanism, what ‘other’ media that are the ‘content’ of the Papiertheater medium (as it turns out, trade catalogues, illustrated atlases, costume history Bilderbogen etc.) and what kind of historiographic effects derive from here?

Peter M. McIsaac
Sales catalogs and guides to popular anatomical exhibitions as complex medial forms

For the “Media Inventories” workshop, I will analyze the changing relationships of publically displayed anatomical models to print media that registered and remediated their existence in the long nineteenth century. I am interested in two types of paperbound publication, illustrated sales catalogs and exhibition guides. While each of these print media sought to capture the scope of what was typically involved in these shows, they also differed in terms of their material composition and representational strategies.

Whereas sales catalogs might lay out over 270 high-quality photographs of wax models

in leather-bound, large-format, handcrafted volumes, many exhibition guides consisted of cheap paper containing lists of item numbers and titles of display objects, grouped with objects on related topics (for instance stages of embryonic development) but not necessarily as arranged in exhibition space. Yet with occasional lithographic and photographic illustrations and paragraphs of explanatory text expanding on the titles of noteworthy objects, exhibition guides also need to be regarded as complex medial constructions, devised for a range of uses and contexts that could extend beyond the exhibition setting.

For my analysis, I seek to develop an approach that links medial materiality to the functions, audience and status of the objects and moments of reception in- and outside display settings. Rather than regard print media as merely ancillary to the medical waxes, I will seek to consider their operation in dynamic and self-reflexive medial terms. Conceived this way, catalogs and guidebooks become crucial contributors to the respective scenes of exhibition, whose own arrangements of physical objects in exhibition spaces can be profitably understood in terms of multi-medialized discourse.

For while sales catalogs and guidebooks had immediate functions such as marketing and documenting exhibits, their changing material composition and shifting use of text and image were devised with respect to both changing exhibition practices and shifting legal and social expectations with regard to the exhibits and the contents they represented. Partly as a result of the charged nature that came with open sexually related content— including sexual reproduction, genitalia and the realities of venereal disease—deliberate choices had to be made with regard to cost and quality of the materials and indeed the basic question of text vs. image. Not just exhibition venues, but their accompanying print media were subject to constraints with regard to who might have access to displayed content and in what form, as even textual descriptions of risqué material could create legal penalties for falling into the hands of minors. At the same time, new ideas of public health communication and changing exhibition strategies led to changes in related paperbased media. Most striking were the changes in guidebooks, which increasingly developed so as to be used after visits and sometimes also operated as sales catalogs, with forms of cataloguing and rendering designed to spark recall and build on amplified visual displays in the shows themselves. By considering catalogs and guidebooks as complex media, I seek to better understand a phenomenon that attracted many thousands and at times millions of visitors to particular venues, but whose legitimacy, status and impacts were by design not limited to the mere on-site encounter.