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Research Programme

The principal aim of the Cluster of Excellence 2020 "Temporal Communities. Doing Literature in a Global Perspective" is to create a novel theoretical and methodological take on literature in a global perspective; a global perspective defined most significantly through its ineluctable links to temporality. This take moves beyond the traditional categories of nation and era, conceiving of literature instead as a transcultural and transtemporal phenomenon in deep time.

Assuming that literature is a fundamentally performative and intermedial phenomenon – rather than a merely textual one – a form of social action taking place in complex networks of human and non-human agents, something that humans do and that exists only because humans do it, the Cluster studies how literature becomes global through its temporal entanglements. Introducing the notion of “temporal communities,” the Cluster investigates the ways in which literature reaches out through space and time by establishing extensive transtemporal networks, networks in which the very notion of literature itself, both as an aesthetic and a social praxis, is constantly re-constituted as it interacts with other arts and media, with all manner of institutions and material conditions. “Temporal Communities” thus are the sites where the multifarious entanglements that literary phenomena enter into resonate in and through time, sometimes even spanning millennia.

The Cluster's research agenda will be realised in five Research Areas, each tackling a specific aspect of the overall question of how global literature can be described as the practice of temporal communities.

  1. Competing Communities
  2. Travelling Matters
  3. Future Perfect
  4. Literary Currencies
  5. Building Digital Communities

Taking advantage of Berlin’s unique intellectual and cultural landscape and situated within a vibrant network of both international academic partners and local collaborators, including universities and libraries as well as museums and literary and artistic institutions, the Cluster combines an international fellowship programme with a dynamic and flexible platform for small and medium-sized projects involving early career researchers, established scholars and international fellows from all career stages. Supported in its research by a powerful digital humanities hub, the Cluster plans to involve a wider audience in its activities, reaching out beyond the confines of academia as it actively participates in Berlin’s vibrant, multi-cultural and multi-lingual literary and cultural scene.