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New Perspectives on Contemporary Austrian Literature and Culture


Edited By Katya Krylova

This volume brings together contributions arising from papers originally presented at the Contemporary Austrian Literature, Film and Culture International Conference held at the University of Nottingham in April 2015. It examines trends in contemporary Austrian literature, film and culture, predominantly over the past thirty years. This period has been one of great transformation in Austrian society, with the Waldheim affair of 1986–1988 marking the beginning of a belated process of confronting the country’s National Socialist past. The sixteen chapters of the volume analyse literary texts, films, memorial projects and Austria’s musical heritage, considering works by cultural practitioners operating both within and outside of Austria. The collection offers a multi-perspectival view on how contemporary Austria sees itself and how it is, in turn, seen by others from various vantage points.

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4 Ariadne’s Thread: Storytelling, Digression and Flâneurship in the Recent Films of Ruth Beckermann (Katya Krylova)


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4 Ariadne’s Thread: Storytelling, Digression and Flâneurship in the Recent Films of Ruth Beckermann


This chapter focuses on the recent films of Austrian documentary filmmaker Ruth Beckermann, examining the open, experimental nature of her recent essay films, where she departs from the documentary conventions characterizing her earlier essayistic travelogues. The chapter examines how the thought of Walter Benjamin informs her recent film projects. Beckermann’s attention to the seemingly marginal traces of experience is explored both in relation to her investigation of the United States at the beginning of the twenty-first century in American Passages (2011) and in relation to the interpellation of the myth of Ariadne in Those Who Go Those Who Stay (2013). Drawing on Laura Rascaroli’s ideas on subjective cinema, the chapter argues that the less prescriptive form of Beckermann’s recent films allows the film montage to take centre stage, and that the lack of an overarching narrative frame is symptomatic of the multifaceted and ambivalent subject matter that the films portray.


The Austrian documentary filmmaker Ruth Beckermann (1952–) began making documentary films in 1977, with her first films focusing on protest movements and industrial relations in Austria. Beginning with her first feature film (with Josef Aichholzer), Wien retour (1983), a number of Beckermann’s films have dealt in some way with Austrian-Jewish culture after the Holocaust. Following this first feature-length documentary, which adopts a classic documentary style, with an impersonal...

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