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Open Access Gendered lives in anticipation of a biographer?

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Following Carl Pletsch’s hypothesis of ‘The life lived in anticipation of one’s biographers’, we explore the ‘autobiographical lives’ of two couples of creative individuals who have and will become the subjects of biographies: these couples are the canonised and popular Austrian writers Friederike Mayröcker (b. 1925) and Ernst Jandl (b. 1925, d. 2000) and the relatively unknown exiles Salka Viertel (b. 1889, d. 1978) and Berthold Viertel (b. 1885, d. 1953). As more or less well-known actors in the cultural scene of Austria’s ‘long twentieth century’, they give us the opportunity to analyse gendered socialisation and examine how their lives and gendered life scripts shaped their respective personal archives. All four of them left behind substantial collections of documents. The particular archives of these four modern intellectuals are not only of very different shapes and sizes, but also stored in different memory institutions ranging from the Austrian National Library to the Viennese City Library and the German Literary Archive ‐ they, by extension, also depict diverse politics of archival memory in the context of gender and nationality.
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Keywords: Auto/biography; Berthold Viertel; Ernst Jandl; Friederike Mayröcker; Salka Viertel; archives; genius

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Katharina Prager, historian and cultural scientist, works as senior researcher at the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for the History and Theory of Biography and the Vienna City Library. She is currently working on an online-biography of Karl Kraus ( as well as on a monography on Berthold Viertel and ‘critical modernism’. Her research interests include: auto/biography; auto-media online; (Austrian) contemporary history (as gendered history); exile studies; memory studies. 2: Vanessa Hannesschläger, German literature scholar and digital humanist, works as a researcher for the Austrian Centre for Digital Humanities at the Austrian Academy of Sciences. She is involved in several research projects, works on her PhD thesis, and recently completed a digital bio-bibliography on Ernst Jandl (). Her research interests include (digital) archives, text encoding, the theory of biography, (biographical) data modelling, experimental literature, and Austrian literature after 1945., URL:

Publication date: September 1, 2016

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