Martin Klimke, Joachim Scharloth, eds. 1968: Handbuch zur Kultur- und Mediengeschichte der Studentenbewegung. Stuttgart: J.B. Metzler Verlag, 2007. 323 pp. EUR 49.95 (cloth), ISBN 978-3-476-02066-6.
Reviewed by Christina Gerhardt (Columbia University)
Published on H-German (June, 2009)
Commissioned by Susan R. Boettcher
Numerous books commemorated last year's fortieth anniversary of the 1968 student movements. They include single-author titles by Götz Aly, Norbert Frei, Wolfgang Kraushaar, and Peter Schneider, as well as sourcebooks by Angelika Ebbinghaus, Andreas Pflitsch, Manuel Gogos, and Rudolf Gievers. Martin Klimke and Joachim Scharloth's edited volume makes a unique contribution to this literature by illustrating a recent shift in scholarship on the 1968 student movements from an analysis of its history to its representation.
In Klimke and Scharloth's estimation, three specific developments in the disciplines of history, media, and cultural studies contributed to the new focus in scholarship on 1968. First, as various articles in the volume demonstrate, the concept of the performative--or what Klimke and Scharloth call the "performative turn"--led to an examination of the theatrical character of actions ranging from daily rituals to festivals and the subversive aspects of happenings and situationism. Second, the growth of media studies encouraged an analysis of how both mass and alternative media shape the reception and perception of student movements. Third, historical studies of the student movements have expanded their temporal and spatial framework. Scholars now often locate the student movements in a longer historical trajectory, frequently beginning their analyses in the 1950s. Spatially, as Kraushaar's dictum of the "first global revolution" or Immanuel Wallerstein's characterization of the movement as a "revolution in the world system" suggest, recent analyses have frequently read domestic events together with events taking place internationally. This broader spatial and historical framework, Klimke and Scharloth argue, is responding "to a qualitatively new economic, technological, and political process of globalization that set in after the Second World War" (p. 3).
The volume introduces well the ways in which the era's political and social movements were mediated. It consists of five sections--"Media and Public Space"; "Performance and Subversion"; "New Cultural Practices"; "Discourses of Violence"; and "In Retrospect"--and includes twenty-five articles. The volume's strongest contributions are those that shed light on overlooked aspects of the student movements, such as the analyses of the relationship between the theory of the Situationist International (SI) and actions in Germany, and Scharloth's detailed examinations of the student movements' performative and discursive practices as offered in two articles.
Three entries study the relationship between SI theory and actions in Germany. Mererid Puw Davies dwells on graffiti produced by Peter Ernst Eiffe in 1968 (also mentioned in Uwe Timm's 1974 novel, Heißer Sommer). Drawing on the theories of the SI, she argues that graffiti can function as a dérive, that is, that it can lead one to reconsider one's movement through and relationship to urban spaces or one's psycho-geography. Mia Lee presents a brief history of the SI and how its theories informed German groups, such as the Munich artist group SPUR, which worked with SI between 1958 and 1962 and of which Dieter Kunzelmann--who later went on to found Subversive Aktion and was instrumental in the establishment of the Kommune 1--was a part. Alexander Holmig's entry, too, analyzes the relationship among SPUR, the SI, Subversive Aktion, and Kommune 1, showing how K1's definition of political intervention contrasted with that of the SDS. K1, he argues, used "symbolic politics" and in particular Bertolt Brecht's concept of the alienation effect or the SI concept of détournement to call attention to the ways in which the machinations of political power structures are veiled. As examples, Holmig cites the planned Pudding Attentat on U.S. vice president Hubert Humphrey during his 1967 Berlin visit and the July 6, 1967 trial of Rainer Langhans and Fritz Teufel.
Scharloth closely reads the language of revolt, examining the lexicon of the German student movement, words' origins and frequently used words, and arguing that this lexicon had a direct effect on debates in Germany, such as those about its National Socialist past, terrorism, and abortion. Furthermore, the lexicon contributed to discussions of economics, economic development, education, women's rights, sexual ethics, and the environment. In a second section, Scharloth analyzes semantic aspects of student movement language, its use, and its co-optation. Lastly, Scharloth considers the social stylistics of the protest movement's communication, highlighting three approaches: the skeptical tone of denial, which was typically used vis-à-vis people external to the movement, as in interviews with mass media journalists; the intellectual avant-garde style, which was used internally and drew on a combination of academic discourse and political language; and the hedonistic style of self-realization, which expressed itself in body language and in the use of colloquial language, anacoluthon, and the reduction of word length through elision or contraction.
As a whole, the volume brings together articles that focus on late 1960s innovations in a variety of social cultural practices, such as music and fashion, literature and film. Roman Luckscheiter, for example, explores 1968's role as a catalyst for developments in literature, such as agit-prop poetry, documentary theater, and worker's literature. He argues that the literature of 1968 inspired a range of conceptual forms and stylistics evidenced in later works such as Bernward Vesper's Die Reise (1977), Rolf Dieter Brinckmann's Der Film im Worten (1982) and Rom, Blicke (1979), as well as Peter Handke's Die Innenwelt der Außenwelt der Innenwelt (1969) and Deutsche Gedichte (1969). Thomas Christen focuses on four films produced around 1968 that dwell on the protest movements: Jean-Luc Godard's Weekend (1967), Bernardo Bertolucci's Prima della rivoluzione (1964), Michelangelo Antonioni's Zabriskie Point (1969), and Alain Tanner's La salamandre (1971). Through them, he shows how late 1960s film challenged previously dominant tendencies of cinema, such as narrative continuity, one diegesis, and closure; how art cinema drew on Brecht's notion of epic theater; and how it worked in accordance with two seemingly opposed tendencies: the author theory and a Marxist-oriented theory of counter-cinema that understood film as collective work.
The penultimate cluster of articles examines discourses of violence. In his contribution about the Berliner Subkultur, Kraushaar discusses the history of the Umherschweifende Haschrebellen, the Tupamaros West Berlin and the Bewegung 2. Juni, while Sara Hakemi shows the translation of situationist theory into practice, as exercised by the Red Army Faction's (RAF) use of the corporate and mass media. Martin Steinseifer focuses on the events of 1972 related to the RAF, dwelling on the televised arrest of Andreas Baader and Holger Meins in Frankfurt on June 1, 1972.
While the volume acknowledges the transnational movement of protest practices, which Klimke's article "Sit-In, Teach-In, Go-In" instantiates and the co-authored introduction underscores, further contributions to the volume could have shed more light on this aspect of the 1968 student movement. Ebbinghaus's sourcebook, Die 68er: Schlüsseltexte der globalen Revolte (2008) and Frei's 1968: Jugendrevolte und globaler Proteste (2008) mark important contributions to this area of inquiry, as does Quinn Slobodian's article, "Dissident Guests: Afro-Asian Students and Transnational Activism in the West German Protest Movement."
Overall, the volume provides a good survey of the variegated ways that 1968 was mediated, for example, through literature or film, or the ways that 1968 engaged a range of media, such as happenings, music, and television, in order to further its political agendas. Given the broad array of mediations explored, the volume offers edifying material to complement courses from a wide range of disciplines well--such as film, theater, or media or cultural studies, as well as German studies or history--that touch upon or focus on 1968.
. Götz Aly, Unser Kampf--ein irritierter Blick zurück (Frankfurt am Main: Fischer, 2008); Norbert Frei, 1968: Jugendrevolte und globaler Protest (Munich: dtv, 2008); Wolfgang Kraushaar, Achtundsechzig: Eine Bilanz (Munich: Propyläen, 2008); Peter Schneider, Rebellion und Wahn: Mein '68 (Cologne: Kiepenheuer & Witsch, 1968); as well as the following sourcebooks: Angelika Ebbinghaus, ed., Die 68er: Schlüsseltexte der globalen Revolte (Vienna: Promedia, 2008); Andreas Pflitsch and Manuel Gogos, eds., 1968--Kurzer Sommer--lange Wirkung: Ein literarisches Lesebuch (Munich: dtv, 2008); and Rudolf Sievers, ed., 1968: Eine Enzyklopädie (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 2008).
. Quinn Slobodian, "Dissident Guests: Afro-Asian Students and Transnational Activism in the West German Protest Movement," in Migration and Activism in Europe since 1945, ed. Wendy Pojmann (New York: Palgrave, 2008). This article is part of his dissertation manuscript, "Radical Empathy: The Third World and the New Left in 1960s West Germany" (PhD diss., New York University, 2008).
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