Literatur – grundsätzlich mehrsprachig!? Das politische Potenzial literarischer Mehrsprachigkeit heute, am Beispiel von Barbi Marković’ Superheldinnen


  • Sandra Vlasta Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz



multilingualism in literature, political potential, Barbi Marković, Superheldinnen, literary field, literary prizes


Literature – Multilingual on Principle?! The Political Potential of Literary Multilingualism Today, using the Example of Barbi Marković’s Superheldinnen. Research on literary multilingualism is increasingly based on the assumption that literature per se is multilingual. This is true for concepts such as Mikhail Bakhtin’s ‘polyphony’, in which multilingualism occurs in the form of social, regional and historical variants within one major language. Similarly, it applies to Rainier Grutman’s concept of hétérolinguisme, which expands Bakhtin’s notion and includes actual language changes. Recently, Till Dembeck has even called for a philology of multilingualism that would accommodate literary multilingualism in literary criticism. Using Barbi Marković’s novel Superheldinnen (2016) as an example, I discuss this recent development in multilingual literary studies and analyse concepts, forms and function of literary multilingualism. In so doing, I underline the transcending character of literary multilingualism that expresses itself on various levels: linguistically, formally, medially and with respect to culture. Thus, I aim to illustrate the enormous political potential of literary multilingualism. In fact, multilingualism in literature, as opposed to literature in times of a “monolingual paradigm” (Yasemin Yildiz), poses a political challenge on various levels. Concepts, such as national literature, literary field, but also literary studies and their institutions (i.e. language departments) reach their limits if literature is understood as being multilingual. In the second part of this article, I discuss the difficulties that come with literary prizes, literary studies and the access to the literary field. These often express themselves as concrete problems for individuals who, for instance, have difficulties accessing the literary field.


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