Interdisciplinary Conference on the Technique of Cento Texts (13.11.-14.11.2020)

Aufgrund der Entwicklungen bei der Ausbreitung des Corona-Virus wurde die ursprünglich im März 2020 angesetzte Tagung mittlerweile in Form einer Online-Veranstaltung am 13. und 14. November 2020 mit zahlreichen internationalen Teilnehmern nachgeholt.

Das Programm der Tagung finden Sie hier.

Die Beiträge der Tagung inklusive einiger zusätzlicher Aufsätze wurden in einem Sammelband veröffentlicht. Das Inhaltsverzeichnis des Bandes finden hier.

Falls Sie Interesse an einem Erwerb des Bandes haben, finden Sie hier weitere Informationen.

Abstracts der Aufsätze im Band:

Rowena Fowler
Ezra Pound’s Rag-Bag: The Cantos as Cento

The chapter explores the relationship between the cento form and Anglo-American Modernism, especially in Ezra Pound’s Cantos, a radical epic largely constructed from earlier texts in an array of languages and traditions.  It argues that Modernism and the cento share certain formal and cultural characteristics: fragmentation and recombination, hybridity, and self-consciousness about their own belatedness and their re-use of the past.  Although Pound nowhere uses the term “cento”, the assemblage and recomposition of texts is integral to his practices as poet, translator and reader.  Thinking of the Cantos “as” a cento offers a new approach to its status as text, its positioning in time and history and the role and status of the author(s).

Timo Christian
Homerische Glossen und Rezeptionsniveaus in den Homerocentones

This paper investigates the semantics, compositional techniques and functions of Homeric glosses in the late-antique Homerocentones.
Homeric glosses in this poem are often not merely used according to one certain, well-defined meaning; rather, the context alludes to the fact that the meaning of a gloss was disputed, or even suggests two (or more) possible meanings. This is achieved by placing explanatory words or phrases in the immediate context; sometimes, the gloss is given a specific Christian meaning. This shows that the Homerocentones are to be seen as learned poetry that integrates philological commentary into its narrative, like e.g. the Argonautica of Apollonius. What is more, this self-positioning within a pagan tradition of semantic dispute suggests that a Christian re-interpretation of Homeric glosses is not a break with tradition, but rather its continuity.
Consequently, we may distinguish two kinds of audiences for this poem: On the one hand, explanatory notes on glosses function, for well-educated readers, as „philological markers“ directing them to scholarly discussions. On the other hand, explanatory notes may simply be just that, explaining the meaning of a gloss to a reader who is unfamiliar with it. It is possible, then, that the Homerocentones are intentionally composed in this way as to not only appeal to a small circle of literary connoisseurs, but to a broader audience as well.

Julia Heideklang
Hos Centones: Brunfels’ Herbarum vivae eicones (1530)
and Contrafayt Krëutterbuch (1532)

“No less than forty authors did I quote, from which I sew together these centones.” wrote Otto Brunfels about his botanical prose work, the Herbarum vivae eicones, in its dedicatory epistle.
By analyzing the various paratexts of his Latin and German herbals I want to trace the poetics Brunfels adopted for his botanical prose, and subsequently compare them to the writing technique applied in the main texts. Based on these findings, I will discuss Brunfelsʼ herbal as cento against the background of the literary tradition, it is positioned in – namely herbal literature – and the contemporary scholarly practices of reading, writing and collecting and their complex interplay.

Mali Skotheim
Reading Environmental Devastation through Vergil’s Eclogues in 18th Century
Mexico: Don Bruno Francisco Larrañaga’s La America Socorrida (1786)

Don Bruno Francisco Larrañaga wrote La America Socorrida (1786) in response to the health and environmental disasters of 1785 in Mexico. While La America Socorrida is not a cento, as Riofrío's Centonicum Virgilianum (1680) had been, Larrañaga relies on some cento-like techniques, patching together parts of lines, most often from Vergil's Eclogues. This paper focuses on the Latin text of the poem in relation to its literary antecedents, and concerns Larrañaga's poetic and compositional techniques. By interweaving quotations from canonical ancient poets, such as Vergil and Ovid, along with ecclesiastical Latin, and the neo-Latin poetry of contemporary Mexico (Rafael Landívar's Rusticatio Mexicana), Larrañaga created a poem rooted in a rich literary tradition, while also speaking to contemporary concerns.

Johanna-Charlotte Horst
“I prefer not to... say it myself”: On Georges Perec’s Composite Work
Un homme qui dort

In the novel Un homme qui dort Georges Perec makes use of quotations stemming from sources as different as Melville, Sartre, Camus, Marx, Lukrez, and many more. The interplay of literary and philosophical fragments creates a specific texture, whose aesthetic fragility points back towards its heterogeneous material. By this exercise Perec questions the canonical alliance between authorship and inspiration. He identifies with Melville’s Bartleby and prefers not to do his job, that is to refuse being creative. In contrast to Bartleby Perec’s literary efficiency does not suffer under the refusal to work. He copies other author’s texts and becomes, so to speak, a scrivener. Un homme qui dort is the last text Perec published before engaging with the artistic collective Oulipo. Its cento poetic prefigures the foundation of oulipotic practice, that is, the rejection of the inspired genius as the text’s centre of gravitiy. Artistic productivity is rather prompted by exterior impulses. As a consequence property rights do not exist for oulipotic techniques. They are applicable by everyone. The cento text Un homme qui dort foreshadows this collaborative mode of writing literature and brings up the question: How are centos in principle involved with a poetic of community and the concept of collective authorship?

Linda Simonis
Cento Techniques in Pierre de Ronsard’s Franciad

Pierre de Ronsard’s Franciad (1572), an unfinished epic poem, is one of the major humanist attempts to re-create the forms of classical poetry in the vernacular, i.e. in the early modern French language. Drawing on Homer’s Iliad and Virgil’s Aeneid, Ronsard refigures the destruction of Troy and devises his own story as an invented sequel to the Iliad: Francus, a son of Hector and Andromache, having been miraculously saved from destruction, sets out with his ship on the mission of founding France. What makes the Franciad interesting in the context of cento poetry is its way of composition: Drawing to a large extent on material borrowed from ancient and classical Greek and Latin epic poetry, the poem is a patchwork of quotations or paraphrases of quotations. This intertextual composition of the Franciad is announced in the famous preface which presents the poem as a study in imitation of classical models. Apart from Homer and Virgil, Ronsard uses a further major source, Apollonius Rhodius’ Argonautica, from which he does not only borrow significant plot elements, but also formal aspects and poetic devices. Moreover, to Ronsard, Apollonius Rhodius serves as a guide of how to engage with Homer: In the footsteps of the Hellenistic poet, Ronsard adopts the posture of the philologist and scholarly commentator. Regarding the epic story from a detached point of view, he partly frames his poem in a parodistic mode. Thus, the cento technique constitutes a deliberate artistic device by which the poet seeks to insert his work into the ancient epic tradition. At the same time, the poem’s marked detachment from its venerable sources allows for a playful mode of imitation which includes alteration and invention.

Sally Baumann Lukas Spielhofer
Intertextual and Metapoetic Aspects in Ausoniusʼs Cento nuptialis
(Cent. nupt. 12-32; 57-66)

This paper deals with the Cento nuptialis, a patchwork-poem by the late antique Latin author Ausonius usually dated to the second half of the 4th century CE. The poem is accompanied by a prose epistle which outlines a definition of the term “cento” and describes the formal rules of cento composition – it is the only extant ancient theory of centonization. Our study does not investigate the often-treated Imminutio and, instead, focuses on two other passages of the cento, the Cena nuptialis and the Oblatio munerum. We analyse these passages with regard to two different aspects: Firstly, we examine the composition of the cento itself in relation to the rules laid out in its prefatory epistle to see if, where/how and to what effect centonisation rules are broken in the poem. Secondly, we concentrate on the question of intertextuality to determine for which passages and under what circumstances an intertextual reading of the cento might be plausible and productive; we also shed light on the possibly interplay of rule violations and intertextually interesting passages.

Maurice Parussel
Ein Cento im intertextuellen Gewebe: Zur Schreibweise des Reisebriefes
Konrads von Querfurt

In his essay, Maurice Parussel takes a look at the so-called travel letter of Konrad von Querfurt, which has survived exclusively as an insert text in Arnold of Lübeck's Chronica Slavorum and is an account of the journey to Italy of the then German Imperial Chancellor towards the end of the 12th century, based primarily on literary references, a text which at first glance has little or nothing in common with the cento spelling. However, a closer look at the prologue of the travel letter reveals that it is not only highly intertextual, but also links numerous direct quotations from ancient and ecclesiastical literature in an new unmarked way, so that an attentive reader is confronted with a literary patchwork. Finally, the particular significance of this conception of the introduction is examined in the essay with a view to the overall structure of the letter, thus gaining a new perspective of the functioning of the cento technique for reader-direction as well as its intra- and intertextual dimension of a text.

Mark A. McCutcheon
Paratextual and “Sampladelic” Techniques for “Committing Centonism”
in Contemporary Poetry Published in Canada

This chapter attempts to model a twofold method for reading centos ‒ poems composed wholly of excerpts from other works ‒ in relation to intellectual property (IP) law, in the context of contemporary poetry published in Canada. The method proceeds by inference, in the reading of published poetry’s paratextual matter as evidence of the exercise of users’ rights, and by analogy, in the relating of cento-writing technique to DJ technics of mixing and sampling recorded music. This chapter’s form also tries to model its proposed method, in that a plethora of quotations composes a fair deal of the argument. The works sampled to model my method form two groups: book-length works that are extensively or exclusively intertextual (by Mary Dalton, Jordan Abel, M. NourbeSe Philip, and Jonathan Locke Hart); and centos in books of poetry (by Nancy Dembowski, Ken Babstock, Paul Vermeersch, Sina Queyras, Natalee Caple, Liz Howard, Susan Elmslie, Jennifer Zilm, and Joshua Whitehead). This proposed interpretive approach illuminates how contemporary cento production navigates copyright law; it suggests how an understanding of DJ practice enriches the reception of centos and related found-poetry forms; and it shows how authors and publishers need the users’ rights afforded under copyright law no less than users and consumers do.

Sina Dell’Anno
„Der Philolog redet nicht selbst“ – Zur Cento-Technik Johann Georg Hamanns

Sina Dell’Annos Beitrag widmet sich dem berüchtigten ,Cento-Stil‘ Johann Georg Hamanns (1730–1788). Am Beispiel seiner berühmtesten Schrift, der 1762 erschienenen Aesthetica in nuce, werden zunächst die Eigenheiten von Hamanns rhapsodischer Schreibweise sowie deren theologisches Fundament beleuchtet. Daran anschließend nimmt der Beitrag einen wenig beachteten Mini-Cento Hamanns in den Blick: das Motto zur Metakritik über den Purismum der Vernunft. Wie sich zeigen lässt, verdichtet Hamann in diesem Mini-Cento jene Programmatik der sprachlichen Bedingtheit, der sich seine Kritik an der Transzendentalphilosophie Kants verschreibt.

Moritz Rauchhaus
Unity through Intertextuality: The Portrayal of Giovanni da Procida
in the Cento-Novel Aventuroso Ciciliano (ca. 1333)

The cento novel "L'Aventuroso ciciliano", dated around 1333 and attributed to the Florentine author Bosone Novello da Gubbio, is introduced by a heavily intertextual two-part proemio. Bossen describes the Sicilian popular uprising of 1282 without ever mentioning the historic event itself, only its aftermath. His text is structured in three parts, introduced by a double proemio in which hagiography, chronicle and confession of the hero Gianni da Procida are mixed. The novel is also accompanied by marginal annotations. These so-called "chiose" are by no means insignificant additions, but essential components of the novel’s plot by framing it with novellas, etymologies and anecdotes (again without providing any information about the actual sources).This essay examines the second part of Bosone's introduction by analyzing the cento-like structure of unmarked quotations and the parallelization of several historical and mythological figures with the goal to establish Gianni as a new hero for the Italian people and the vernacular language.

Maria Teresa Galli
Cento Technique in Lelio Capilupi’s Patchwork Poem for Cristoforo Madruzzo

After Late Antiquity, the first acme of cento-writing is mostly due to Lelio Capilupi (Mantua 1497-1560), an intellectual and a courtier of the Gonzagas of Mantua and a key figure in the development of the cento form from Late-Antique to Neo-Latin patchwork poems.
This paper proposes to focus on Capilupi’s 154 lines-cento for Cardinal Cristoforo Madruzzo of Trent (Castel Madruzzo 1512 - Tivoli 1578), a prominent figure in the contemporary religious and political scene.
The De laudibus illustrissimi Christophori Madruccii, cardinalis Tridenti et sacri Romani imperii principis is a still unexplored text, though a paradigm case of the deep changes through which the centos have gone over time. Firstly, a brief overview will contextualize the poem within Capilupi’s work and within the historical and cultural background. After that, some of the main issues dealt with will be the game of words, the intertextual relationship with the Virgilian sources and the cento technique. A particular focus will be set on the comparison between Capilupi’s compositional technique and the compositional technique in Late-Antique stricto sensu patchwork poems.

Emanuela Ferragamo
Morgensterns Cento: Eine Analyse des Essays Nietzsche, der Erzieher (1896)

In 1896, Christian Morgenstern is 25 years old. He is a soon-to-be poet and, in his own words, a “Zarathustra’s lark”, a devoted admirer of Friedrich Nietzsche. This year, he publishes his most interesting homage to him: the essay, “Nietzsche as Educator”. The article shows a high intertextual complexity, thus reminding a Cento, according to R. Furness. Although Furness drops the suggestion soon, the Cento genre offers an enriching approach both to the text and to its context: Morgenstern’s early Nietzscheism and his fervent hope for a Renaissance of ancient, Germanic myths. Though, it is even more interesting to point out the fact that “Nietzsche as Educator” is not as serious as it pretends to be. On the contrary,  Morgenstern’s Cento is another way of expressing his (most distressing) talent for Grotesque. 

Jodok Trösch
Cento, quodlibet, or Compilation?
Combinatorial Techniques of Citation in Fischart’s Geschichtklitterung

Johann Fischart’s Geschichtklitterung (1575), an exceptionally free translation of François Rabelais’ Gargantua, features a substantial number of quotations from a wide variety of sources. Researchers usually explain its intertextuality as the outcome of an erudite practice of collecting words, adages, and other kinds of knowledge known as compilation. This paper argues that Fischart’s Geschichtklitterung exhibits a style of using quotations that focuses not only on their content but, in addition, also draws on the poetic characteristics of their original wording. By combining multiple citations in short succession, Fischart distinctively alters their original meaning, constructing highly complex and artificial passages. Marked references to the techniques of the quodlibet and the cento inside the Geschichtklitterung demonstrate the self-reflective nature of Fischart’s combinatorial style of citation. This paper reconstructs this cento-like constellation by examining exemplary passages from the Geschichtklitterung and contextualizing them in the broader theoretical context of 16th-century poetics.