Conference report: Collective Creativity (Sydney/Australia, July 2009)

From July, 23rd to 26th, I have been to Sydney/Australia, to the Sydney German Studies Symposium 2009 on Collective Creativity, organized by Gerhard Fischer and Florian Vaßen, where I met colleagues from Germany like Rolf G. Renner and Inge Stephan and colleagues from abroad like Axel Fliethmann, Ulrike Garde, Alison Lewis, Andrew McNamara or Christiane Weller. The conference report, which I collaborated on, has meanwhile been put online on h-soz-kult.

Editor Anna König from the University of Nottingham wrote about the conference that the organizers

gathered 48 scholars from all over the world and from a wide range of disciplines. Their goals were to challenge the clear-cut opposition of individual and collective creativity nurtured by ideological dissent especially in the second half of the 20th century, and to look for „intersections or interfaces of artistic, scientific and cultural practice where the individual and the collective merge, come together or confront each other“. The papers presented at the conference examined collective creativity within diverse cultural fields, media and historical contexts, and ranged from ethnographic studies and reports of personal experience to historical reconstruction and theoretical reflection.

In my presentation on From Avant-garde Guerillas to Capitalistic Teamwork? Concepts of Collective Creativity between Subversion and Submission, I mainly reflected on Luc Boltanski’s and Eve Chiapello’s Le Nouvel esprit du capitalisme (1999) and connected their theory with the meanings of literary creativity in our days:

THOMAS ERNST (Luxembourg) questioned the claim that literature today does not have political effects. Having examined the writings of contemporary authors such as Elfriede Jelinek, Thomas Meinecke and Feridun Zaimoglu Ernst came to the conclusion that the dissolution of individual authorship as traditionally carried out by the so-called avant-gardes is no longer subversive per se. Contemporary Western culture, shaped by commerce and media, asks for a more differentiated analysis, as collective creativity can imply submissive literary practices.

A selection of the papers presented will be published by Gerhard Fischer and Florian Vaßen in 2010 at Rodopi. Keep it in mind!

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