Edited By Jasmin Herrmann, Moritz Ingwersen, Björn Sonnenberg-Schrank and Olga Ludmila Tarapata
The collected volume brings together leading scholars from a broad range of disciplines in the humanities to interrogate the productivity of style as an element of cultural expression and a parameter of cultural analysis. Despite its ubiquity in examinations of artistic singularity or postulations of epochal patterns, style remains a notoriously elusive concept. Suspicious of monolithic definitions, the contributions assembled in this volume address style from a multiplicity of methodological and conceptual angles, drawing from fields that include literary studies, film and media studies, post-structuralist philosophy, philosophy of science, and American cultural studies.
One thing that this project has taught us is that addressing style invites a richness beyond the treacherous simplicity and ubiquitous presence that the term suggests. Yet, we would like to emphasize that the spark that ignited this book came from a distinct aesthetic education. Throughout our time as doctoral students, lecturers, and postdoctoral researchers at the English Department of the University of Cologne it was Hanjo Berressem, chair of American Literature and Culture, who instilled in us a valorization not of monolithic, epochal, or generic styles, but of the subtle and singular expressivities of a sentence, a painterly gesture, the stutters of a moving image, or the poetics of a philosophical thought. Through his compelling teaching, reading, and writing style he cultivated a sensitivity for the beauty in nuance, the emergent potentialities of a swerve or a crack, what with reverberations of Roland Barthes we might call the grain of the artistic voice. Rather than disassociate content from form, we learned to prick our ears for their mutual resonances, to become attuned to the materiality of the text, image, sound, or thought and to the poetry and politics of both human and nonhuman events. With an expert’s penchant for the philosophical writings of Gilles Deleuze and Jacques Lacan, the novels of Thomas Pynchon and Witold Gombrowicz, the films of Alfred Hitchcock, or songs of Sparks and Conor Oberst, Hanjo invited us to recognize as stylish the moments when art and theory, matter and message, ethics and aesthetics...
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