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Products for grant FEL-282212-22

Border Territories: The Emancipatory Soundscapes of Postwar German Radio Drama
Caroline Kita, Washington University

Grant details:

“‘Listen up!’ Radio Programming Magazines and the Creation of Democratic Listeners in Germany, 1946-1948.” (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: “‘Listen up!’ Radio Programming Magazines and the Creation of Democratic Listeners in Germany, 1946-1948.”
Author: Caroline Kita
Abstract: In December 1946, the Northwest German Radio (NWDR) in Hamburg, Germany published the first issue of the radio magazine, Hör Zu (Listen Up!). Modeled on the popular pre-war radio program guides found throughout Europe and the United States (such as Radio Life), the periodical provided its readers with an up-to-date schedule of the weekly broadcasts of Germany’s various regional radio stations, and employed images and short articles to incite interest in radio programs and personalities. Yet, for the first two years of its existence, it also included new features, aimed to offer a “behind the scenes” glimpse into the radio production process, demystifying the “miracle wireless” and turning it into a space for the open exchange of ideas. In so doing, the publication of Hör Zu marked a notable turning point in the history of the radio in Germany. Under National Socialism, the radio had served as a primary instrument of propaganda dissemination and its ideal listener was imagined to be the passive receptor of the party’s message. Hör Zu’s new vision for the radio, in contrast, was emphasized in the request for listener feedback found in the mission statement on the first issue’s opening pages: “Don’t be afraid of a public response,” the editors claimed, “We no longer live under the whip of a dictator!” In the eyes of its creators, Axel Eggebrecht and Peter Zahn, Hör Zu marked the dawn of a new age of radio, in which the audience would be transformed into actively engaged and critical listeners.
Date: 4/27/23
Conference Name: A Century of Broadcasting: Preservation and Renewal. Conference of the Radio Preservation Task Force, Library of Congress

Music at the End of a World: Sounding Exile in the Postwar Funkoper (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: Music at the End of a World: Sounding Exile in the Postwar Funkoper
Author: Caroline Kita
Abstract: This paper explores the themes of music and exile in the genre of the Funkoper – operas written specifically for the radio medium – in postwar German culture. Its primary case study is the collaboration between German-Jewish writer Wolfgang Hildesheimer and composer Hans Werner Henze, Das Ende einer Welt, adapted from Hildesheimer’s short story in Lieblosen Legenden (1952), and broadcast on the Nordwestdeutscher Rundfunk in December 1953. This paper explores how the skewed perceptions of time and space that Hildesheimer associated with his own experience of exile are “sounded” in the text through his musical language and references, and then capitalized upon by Henze’s musical score and its use of quotation and collage. Both author and composer, I claim, exploit the unique expressive properties of the radio to create a sense of acoustic compression or claustrophobia, and temporal stasis. In its conclusion, this paper reflects on how genres such as the Hörspiel and Funkoper offered new opportunities for individual and collective working through the past in postwar German culture.
Date: 9/16/22
Conference Name: German Studies Association Conference, Houston, Texas

Storytelling Through Sound (Course or Curricular Material)
Title: Storytelling Through Sound
Author: Caroline Kita
Abstract: This course explores the art of storytelling as an acoustic experience. In addition to reading critical texts on listening, sound, and voice we examine a variety of kinds of aural art – from live performances (music, spoken word, literary readings) to recordings (podcasts, audiobooks, radio dramas, sound art), and study how sound is transposed into and combined with literature and the visual arts. Our inquiries into sound will also attend to the relationship between sound and power, silence, and deafness. Students will have the opportunity to visit arts institutions in the St. Louis area and to craft their own creative audio project at the end of the semester. This course is designed for First Year Students – no special background is required.
Year: 2023
Audience: Undergraduate

Seminar in the 20th Century: Radio Drama (Course or Curricular Material)
Title: Seminar in the 20th Century: Radio Drama
Author: Caroline Kita
Abstract: This seminar focuses on the German language radio drama, or Hörspiel, as a unique literary genre, performance art form, and media artifact. Although often viewed today as a primitive forerunner of today’s podcasts and audio-fiction, radio drama has had a long and storied tradition in German-speaking cultures. In this course, we will learn about the emergence of radio drama in the mid 1920s and explore how this art form developed in tandem with the social, political, economic, and technological transformations of the last century. Reading historical reflections by writers such as Bertolt Brecht, Walter Benjamin, Rudolf Arnheim, Theodor Adorno, and Klaus Schöning, we will interrogate how radio drama has responded to and shaped discourses on interpersonal communication in the modern age, fascist aesthetics, democratic subjectivity, collective memory, and questions of national identity and belonging. In studying radio dramas as both texts and sound documents, we will apply analytical tools from the fields of sound and media studies (including theories of listening and resonance) and transmedial narratology, and closely examine modes of adaption and techniques of acoustic staging. This seminar will also serve as an introduction to working with acoustic archival material and other historical media documentation. Radio Dramas include works by Walter Ruttmann, Günter Eich, Ingeborg Bachmann, Heinrich Böll, Frederike Mayröcker, Ernst Jandl, Heiner Müller, and Elfriede Jelinek. Sound documents will be in German, readings in German and English, discussion in English.
Year: 2023
Audience: Graduate