"Die literarische Welt": Paper presentation at LitCit Conference

To understand the means and ends of readers being positioned as observers in multimodal texts, it is fruitful to take a closer look at crucial constellations within historical print cultures. The Weimar Republic periodical Die literarische Welt (1925-1933) turns to the reader as a 'literary citizen', presenting a panoramic view and a polyphonous forum of conversation.

Mapping out literary citizenship in the Weimar Republic periodical Die literarische Welt 

The notion of ‘world literature’ as shaped in the early 19th century can be seen as a key manifestation of the transnational nature and impact of the book. At the beginning of the 20th century, however, the more senior notion of the ‘literary world’ equally gains new attention. The same-titled German periodical Die literarische Welt (1925-1933), a weekly literary and cultural review, aims to shape the public sphere during the years of the Weimar Republic by offering a panoramic and non-dogmatic perspective on contemporary literature and culture (cf. Philpotts 2005).

The goal to interface the local and the global perspective – as well as the contemporary and the historical – constitutes the periodical’s crucial point of departure: The first issue starts with a survey presenting national and international author’s voices on what they owe to the ‘German spirit’ respectively the ‘cosmopolitan idea’. As Reichwein 2016 argues, the characteristic use of the survey as a discursive genre in Die literarische Welt is crucial with regard to its pluralistic objectives.

As the paper will outline, the functionalization of the periodical as polyphonous forum of debate together with the explicit notion of the critical and mature reader provides a strategy to map out a decidedly transnational understanding of literary citizenship.


The paper will be presented by Natalia Igl at the "Literary Citizenship" Conference (National Library of Norway, 25-27 September)



Philpotts, Matthew. 2005. The German ‚Literary World‘ at 1930: Crisis and Restoration in Contemporary Literary Journals. In Kontinuitäten der Kultur: 1925-1955. Modern Times? German Literature and Arts Beyond Political Chronologies, ed. by Gustav Frank, Rachel Palfreyman and Stefan Scherer. Bielefeld: Aisthesis, pp. 237-256.

Reichwein, Marc. 2016. “Was verdanken Sie dem deutschen Geist?” Die Rundfrage als Paradedisziplin der Literarischen Welt (1925-1933). In Zwischen Literatur und Journalistik. Generische Formen in Periodika des 18. bis 21. Jahrhunderts, ed. by Gunhild Berg, Magdalena Gronau and Michael Pilz. Heidelberg: Winter, pp. 267-284.

Tags: Book History, Literature, Periodicals, Print Culture, 20th Century, Participatory Culture
Published Aug. 20, 2019 3:20 PM - Last modified Sep. 24, 2019 11:20 AM