Paula Wojcik (University of Vienna)
Fellow in Research Area 5: "Building Digital Communities"
Interfigurality. Towards a Theory of Characters’ Circulation or a Different Perspective on World Literature and Wikipedia
Mythical and biblical characters are known to have an afterlife outside of their narrative origins. Developments in media technology and the resulting convergence of literature with other media have multiplied the number and the variety of intermedially circulating literary characters from different genres and regions since the 19th century. As the scope of their cultural mobility increases even more in today’s digital era, circulating characters develop a transnational and socially-integrative power. Although repeatedly referred to as “fluctuating individuals”, “figures on loan”, “trans-world individuals” or “serial figures” – the phenomenon has lacked a systematic theoretical foundation – a deficit addressed by the project. By developing “interfigurality” as a concept of study, the project analyses the cultural mobility of literary characters, i.e. the transformations corresponding with the dissemination into media, social and (trans-)national cultural milieus. It aims to examine the impact of circulation on the phenomenology and ontology of literary characters and aims to illuminate the underlying processes.
Paula Wojcik is professor for world literature at the University of Vienna. Her PhD project examined the deconstruction of anti-Semitic stereotypes in contemporary Polish, German and American literature (Das Stereotyp als Metapher. Zur Demontage des Antisemitismus in der Gegenwartsliteratur. Bielefeld: Transcript 2013). She completed her habilitation thesis (second book) at Friedrich Schiller University Jena in 2019 (published in 2023 with DeGruyter as Theorie der Klassik. Eine kulturelle Praxis von Goethe bis Grandmaster Flash). Her research interests include literature in Polish, English and German with a focus on Jewish European literatures, intermediality, socialist world literature and world literature & Wikipedia.