Exploration of the Personal Archive of Hildegard Brenner, Literary Scholar, Cultural Critic and Editor

The project is dedicated to the intellectual biography of Hildegard Brenner, whose scholarly and journalistic activities played a decisive role in the literary and cultural-theoretical debates of the 1960s and 1970s. From 1964 to 1982 Brenner headed the journal alternative, which became known for its contributions on materialist aesthetics and French structuralism, but also on the literature of the GDR, the German exile and the labour movement. Until the 1970s, she was the only female editor of an intellectual periodical of broader importance in German language.

The project intends to explore Brenner's extensive personal archive, which was handed over to the Leibniz Center for Literary and Cultural Research in 2019, in the light of transformations of academic scholarship and the intellectual public in the second half of the 20th century. Brenner's "precarious" and unique position as a female editor, as a mentor for younger humanities scholars around 1968, and as a mediator between academic and journalistic work allow to question intellectual history from gender, generational and media perspectives.

The project especially focuses on the far-reaching networks in which Brenner operated. Correspondence with French theorists and writers from the GDR as well as with numerous publishers, magazines and even radio stations will be examined in the project. In particular, the significance of female intellectual networks and friendships will be explored. Brenner not only published the only German-language publication of texts by the Latvian theatre actress and director Asja Lācis (1891–1979), but also promoted the work of the literary and film theorist Lu Märten (1879–1970). The project aims at reconstructing and researching such relationships within the framework of an intellectual-biographical approach.

since 2020
Head researcher(s): Moritz Neuffer