The Feuilleton and Cultural Identities in Luxembourg, 1910-1940


CALL: 2012

DOMAIN: SC - Identities, Diversity and Interaction

FIRST NAME: Anne-Marie




HOST INSTITUTION: University of Luxembourg

KEYWORDS: culture, identity, press, literature, society, ideology, self-reflection, Luxembourg

START: 2013-04-01

END: 2016-02-15


Submitted Abstract

“The Feuilleton and Cultural Identities in Luxembourg 1910-1940” investigates the construction of cultural identities by and through the feuilleton press. It enables an understanding of the value attributed to Luxembourgish culture by cultural commentators against a background of French and German philosophico-aesthetic traditions. As the feuilleton is generically a space for reflection, it represents an essential indicator of cultural attitudes that gives insight into the societal process of identity formation. In order to analyse the discourse of identity, it surveys the thematic spectrum, political philosophy and stylistic particularity of the most prominent Luxembourgish feuilletonists, writing in French and German, gauging their influence on wider constructs of cultural value.The fundamental argumentative premise of the project is that cultural, and, in turn, national, identities are “constructed” (Anderson, 1984) based on the concept of culture developed by society. The project aims to demonstrate the ways in which the feuilleton’s tendency to comment on itself and to react to its reception functioned as a cultural monitoring and moulding device that helped to shape, or preclude, the formation of national and cultural identities in Luxembourg. For the first time, the whole body of feuilletonistic contributions by Batty Weber (1860-1940), Frantz Clément (1882-1942), Nicolas Ries (1876-1941), Léon Thyes (1899-1978) and Pierre Grégoire (1907-1991) and Evy Friedrich (1910-1989) will be considered in the context of the newspapers that published them. The project traces the interactions between these feuilletonists, identifies individual styles and topic-ranges and tracks the dialogue they established with each other and with their audience. It is primarily interested in the cultural value attributed to Luxembourgish culture in these discussions of cultural, social and political events.The project establishes the crucial connection between literature, history and the press, tracing society’s changing formulation of cultural identity and value as presented in and brought about by the medium of the press. The monograph and database resulting from this project will significantly contribute to knowledge development in the fields of literary studies and media history because they give insight into the socio-intellectual climate of the period and accentuate the societal role of the above-mentioned writers. Highlighting the interactive and interdisciplinary nature of press discourse, the project illustrates the intellectual cross-fertilisation, as well as the tensions, that dominated Luxembourgish society between 1910 and 1940. It will show the ways in which the cultural divide brought about by the co-existence of a conservative government, clergy and writers (such as Willy Goergen, Jean-Pierre Erpelding and Pierre Grégoire), who sought to conserve Luxembourg’s rural identity as “an agricultural country” (Eyschen, 1897), and their progressive liberal and left-leaning opponents was articulated to the public. These discussions of cultural, social and political events–prominently the idea of a Luxembourgish “Mischkultur” (Mixed culture) that dominated during the period– reveal and historicise changing concepts of cultural value and cultural identity (Conter, 2007).

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