Date of Submission

Spring 2014

Academic Programs and Concentrations

Division of the Arts; Music; German Studies

Project Advisor 1

Franz Kempf

Project Advisor 2

Andrew Eisenberg

Abstract/Artist's Statement

This study explores the nature of the Berliner slam community, which although diffused, coheres around the notion of ‘Slamily’—a clever contraction of ‘slam family.’ I draw from Benedict Anderson’s seminal work Imagined Communities (1983) to consider how community is cultivated among the participants of Berliner slam poetry. Anderson writes:

All communities larger than primordial villages of face-to-face contact (and perhaps even these) are imagined. Communities are to be distinguished, not by their falsity/genuineness, but by the style in which they are imagined.[1]

“Javanese villagers,” Anderson asserts, “have always known that they are connected to people they have never seen.”[2] The slam community, too, can be understood in this way. Not all slam poetry participants know each other personally, yet they are aware of what Anderson calls “indefinitely stretchable nets of kinship and clientship” that give the community its cohesion.[3] This study explores moments in poetry slam performances that, I argue, expose shared understandings among the participants. Recognition of their commonalities in turn allows the participants to imagine, and thereby to constitute, their community.

[1] Benedict R. O'G Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism, rev. and extended ed. (London: Verso, 1991), 6.

[2] Ibid, 6.

[3] Ibid.

Open Access Agreement

On-Campus only

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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