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The Chatter of the Visible

Montage and Narrative in Weimar Germany

Subjects: Literary Studies, German Studies
Hardcover : 9780472073030, 246 pages, 26 figures, 6 x 9, March 2016
Open Access : 9780472900664, 246 pages, 26 figures, March 2016
Paperback : 9780472053032, 246 pages, 26 figures, 6 x 9, March 2016

This open access version made available with the support of libraries participating in Knowledge Unlatched.
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An examination of the aesthetics and “chattering” effects of Weimar-era photo montage


The Chatter of the Visible examines the paradoxical narrative features of the photomontage aesthetics of artists associated with Dada, Constructivism, and the New Objectivity. While montage strategies have commonly been associated with the purposeful interruption of and challenge to narrative consistency and continuity, McBride offers an historicized reappraisal of 1920s and 1930s German photomontage work to show that its peculiar mimicry was less a rejection of narrative and more an extension or permutation of it—a means for thinking in narrative textures exceeding constraints imposed by “flat” print media (especially the novel and other literary genres).
McBride’s contribution to the conversation around Weimar-era montage is in her situation of the form of the work as a discursive practice in its own right, which affords humans a new way to negotiate temporality, as a particular mode of thinking that productively relates the particular to the universal, or as a culturally specific form of cognition.

Patrizia C. McBride is a Professor of 20th-century German literature and culture and aesthetic theory since the eighteenth century at Cornell University. Her previous books include The Void of Ethics and Legacies of Modernism, co-edited with Richard McCormick and Monika Zager.

“McBride emerges here as a leading interpreter of modernist aesthetics in Germany. She has the rare and enviable ability to mediate between probingly close readings and theoretical reflection in ways that shed important light on the category of montage as it developed between avant-garde and modernism in the cultural effervescence of the Weimar Republic.”
—Russell Berman, Stanford University

The Chatter of the Visible is a wonderful book. Patrizia McBride knows her topic inside and out and manages to bring a refreshing new perspective on Weimar visual culture....”
—Michael Cowan, University of St. Andrew

"McBride’s account reveals the overlooked narrative dimension and force of montage aesthetics and offers alternative modes of envisioning cohesion and world making in a new media environment."
--Honorable Mention, MLA Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Prize for Studies in Germanic Languages and Literatures

- MLA Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Prize for Studies in Germanic Languages and Literatures