Series: Literature Symposium


In the early days, steirischer herbst clearly emphasized discursive events in the form of symposia that expanded the artistic program to include scholarly discussions. A case in point is the Literature Symposium, one of the first event series that accompanied the festival between 1969 and 1995.

The Literature Symposium introduced the “genre” of literature to steirischer herbst; it also provided an important stage for aspiring authors associated with the Forum Stadtpark. Like Alfred Kolleritsch’s Literaturreferat and the Grazer Gruppe, its focus was clearly literature from the very beginning.1 The symposium is thus closely intertwined with the history of the Forum Stadtpark and its literary magazine, manuskripte. It was also important for the self-conception of contemporary Austrian literature since it was within the framework of the symposium that the writers’ association Grazer Autorinnen Autorenversammlung (GAV) was established in 1973. The GAV regarded itself as the antithesis of the conservative P.E.N. Club.

When the symposium was incorporated into the program of steirischer herbst in 1969, it was an event of the Styrian regional studio of the ORF, the Austrian broadcaster. At that time, the program concentrated on linguistics and literary studies, and invited international theorists to Graz. Starting in 1974, the regional studio of the Austrian broadcaster ORF organized it in cooperation with the Forum Stadtpark; as of 1977, the latter was solely responsible for the conception. As of this date the symposia increasingly addressed the role of Austrian authors and those from Graz in particular.

When Peter Vujica became artistic director in 1983, the Literature Symposium increasingly began to focus on critical theory and philosophical discourse. In the 1990s, independent curators took over the conception of the various festival symposia, and established formats gradually became less important. After 1995, the Literature Symposium disappeared from the program, presumably due to the restructuring of the Forum Stadtpark.

Numerous literary formats and events were nonetheless included in the program of steirischer herbst in subsequent years. In 2020, the Literaturhaus Graz cooperated with steirischer herbst to initiate the literature festival Out of Joint, which in the spirit of the Literature Symposium is dedicated to the discourse on contemporary literature in a state of emergency while also investigating, for instance, the influence of literature on politics.

Further Reading

Friederike Gösweiner, “Revolte und Auf-Bruch: 50 Jahre Literaturprogramm im steirischen herbst,” in herbstbuch: 1968–2017, ed. Martin Behr et al. (Vienna: Styria, 2017), pp. 128–33.

Friederike Gösweiner counts the following authors as part of the Grazer Gruppe: Wolfgang Bauer, Gunter Falk, Barbara Frischmuth, Peter Handke, Klaus Hoffer, and Alfred Kolleritsch.