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Elisa Müller-Adams and Kerstin Wiedemann

(Non)canonization and cross-cultural dialogue: the case of Ida Hahn-Hahn

This paper relates to our joint project: "German-women writers in the European literary market: Ida Hahn-Hahn - a case study“ and takes up the research questions formulated in our presentation at the preparatory meeting in Belgrade.

As one of the most important German female authors of the 19th century, Ida Hahn-Hahn is of great interest for the COST project "Women Writers In History: Toward a New Understanding of European Literary Culture": Not only was she read throughout Europe and her works have been translated into several languages, but also her very particular literary career opened up her work to very different reading publics and comments, especially when the texts are translated and presented abroad.

Applying a comparative perspective, the proposed paper focuses on the process of (non)canonization by analysing the reception of Hahn-Hahn’s writings in England and France compared to Germany where Jutta Osinski has argued for a differentiated explanation for Hahn-Hahn’s marginalization or exclusion from the national canon. Gender certainly appears to be one aspect in this process, but, for Osinski, Hahn-Hahn’s conversion to Catholicism is an even more relevant factor.

Analysing reviews as well as paratextual reception sources (mainly prefaces to the English and French translations) the paper will ask in how far different ideas of femininity had an impact on the French and British reception of Hahn-Hahn's writings. Especially her travelogues were perceived differently in both countries. In addition to this, the paper will also examine to what extent Hahn-Hahn's conversion to Catholicism led to different reactions in England and France.

Not only will this analysis show the different perceptions of Hahn-Hahn’s œuvre in both countries, but we also (and probably more importantly) want to point out that the reception goes beyond a bilateral dialogue and – in our case study - can rather be described as a triangle with interactions not only between the country of production (Germany) and the countries of reception (England and France) but also as an interaction between these countries of reception.

AsK, September 2012

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