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Recording and Postproduction: Johannes Hoffmann

Gregor Schwering talking to Maren Lickhardt and Roberto Di Bella

Today, artists move to Berlin in droves, but in the 1980s and early 1990s, Cologne was the uncontested centre of the German arts scene. Gisa Funck and Gregor Schwering have co-written a book about these roaring years of Cologne’s subculture: Wir waren hochgemute Nichtskönner (Kiepenheuer & Witsch 2023). Their book combines many things in one: a testimony project, a pop-cultural study, a portrait of a city and a literary collage. In a conversation with Maren Lickhardt and Roberto Di Bella, Gregor Schwering talks about his musical socialisation in punk rock, the relationship between laymen and experts and about legendary Cologne locations. He also talks about the magazine SPEX, new beginnings in literature in the 1980s and current trends in popular culture research.

(00:00 – 04:29)
Intro: Our guest and his topic

(04:30 – 06:42)
Kicking off on 15 January 1980: Joy Division at the “Basement”

(06:43 – 13:39)
“Just get started”: DIY as the motto of Cologne’s new cultural scene[s]

(13:40 – 17:54)
Pubs as sites of pop-cultural style communities

(17:55 – 21:16)
The “Königswasser”: The segregation of youth cultures begins

(21:17 – 23:45)
Mainstream TV as a lead medium? The role of the music show “Formel 1”

(23:46 – 31:18)
The music magazine “Spex” between Punk and Cultural Studies

(31:19 – 33:32)
On the form of the book

(33:33 – 39:06)
Cologne as a city of literature in the 1980s

(39:04 – 44:18)
How should popular culture research work?

Gregor Schwering, born in 1961, lives in Cologne where he attended the Joy Division concert in 1980, coordinated the “Authors’ Workshop” in the mid-1990s, worked as a freelance journalist and as a staff-member of various galleries. He is connected to the University of Siegen in many ways: He worked there at the CRC 615 “Media Upheavals” (2002–2009), and he also gained his “Habilitation” at Siegen with his study “Theorie des Sprachleibs bei Rousseau, Novalis und Nietzsche” (2009). Today, he is a scholar at the Ruhr University Bochum.

f.l.t.r.: Roberto Di Bella, Gregor Schwering, Maren Lickhardt. Photo: Johannes Hoffmann