Montage and Narrative in Weimar Culture
This talk will examine the innovative paradigm of narrative developed in the discourse and practice of montage that flourished in Germany’s visual and literary media between the two World Wars. Although montage is usually associated with the anti-mimetic, anti-narrative art of the avant-garde, I draw on works related to Dada, Constructivism, and the New Objectivity to reconstruct the specific understanding of narrative ascribed to montage, a mode of storytelling that hinged on shaping the event of perception in an implied recipient. At stake is a method for crafting stories that do not purport to tell themselves, as in the realist paradigm, but rather win credibility by exploiting the convergence between the mind’s cognitive structures and formal patterns of the phenomenal world. Montage storytelling thus configures itself as an anti-mimetic, anti-hermeneutic principle that produces evidence while foregrounding narrative artifice. Reconstructing this paradigm allows for tracing shared strategies of storytelling across a variety of mass-cultural and high-brow media.
Professor McBride’s teaching and research lie primarily in twentieth-century German literature and culture and aesthetic theory since the eighteenth century. Her interests include the relationship between literature, philosophy, and political theory, modernism and avant-garde studies, visual culture, and Austrian literature and culture, especially turn-of-the-century Vienna. She has completed a book on Robert Musil’s contribution to modern ethics and aesthetics in which she recovers his debt to the philosophy of Immanuel Kant, and is the author of articles on Bertolt Brecht, Kurt Schwitters, Walther Rathenau, Hermann Broch, Adolf Loos, Jörg Haider, and J.M.R. Lenz. Her current book project focuses on the impact of montage practices on the visual and literary media of Weimar Germany.