Springe direkt zu Inhalt

Projects Research Area 4

Reading Reading. On an Aesthetic Practice (2024–)

"Reading", Hélène Cixous states, "is a provocation, a rebellion": it is "eating the forbidden fruit, making forbidden love, changing eras, changing families". Proceeding from contemporary literature, the project focuses the act of reading as an aesthetic and potentially political practice of building communities across space and time.

Obscured, Unrecognized, Forgotten. Negative Circulation in Literature (2024-)

The field of negative circulation encompasses different aspects and practices: it ranges from creative failure to individual falling out of scenes, institutions and communities to the active suppression of specific works, for example through censorship, intimidation, exile. It can manifest itself in material practices of negation: Deaccessing archives and libraries, clearing out shelves, destroying books.

Prizeworthiness: Kinship Beyond Literary Nationalism (2024-)

The project focuses on novel constellations of ‘kinship’ that emerge in the context of prizeworthiness debates. It focuses on Anglophone countries and/or literary debates, with controversies on immigration, migration and/or postcolonial social conditions playing a central role.

Critical Theory on the Periphery of Capitalism: Literary Form and Contradictions of Progress in the Work of Roberto Schwarz (2023-)

Frankfurt Critical Theory has had a tense and problematic relationship with the postcolonial world and with postcolonialism, leading to what has been described as a missed encounter. In this context, the work of Roberto Schwarz, recognized both as Brazil’s foremost literary and cultural critic and as one of the most significant inheritors of the Frankfurt School tradition, is of crucial relevance. This research project argues that Schwarz’s essayistic work, through his meticulous analysis of the relationship between literary form and social process in Brazil, offers an elaboration of the Frankfurt School’s notion of the regressive character of progress by examining its dynamics within a dialectical relationship between the centre and the periphery of capitalism.

Autofiction Across Media: Narrating the Self Between the Cultural, the Political and the Corporate (2023-)

This project focuses on recent autofictional production on page, stage, and screen: i.e., works explicitly based on a fictionalised version of the writer’s lived experience that foreground the act of narrating.

Circulations of Theory: Topics, Processes, and Histories of a Globalised Form of Writing (2023-)

Since the 1960s, a loosely defined body of writings concerned with fundamental issues has been grouped together under the term 'theory'. The project picks up on the dynamics and mobility of these texts, the ideas they contain and their authors, and investigates their transfers, transmissions and circulations. At the heart of inquiry lie processes of intercontinental exchange and the global dimension of interactions in the theoretical field.

Writing as Artistic Practice (2022-)

The research project investigates the literary writing practices of contemporary artists. Within the broad spectrum of "art writing", this project focuses on the writings of contemporary visual artists who define their own literary approach and the presentation of their writings in books and exhibitions as a central component of their art practice.

Heimat Babel: Heimat and Language in Post-German Poetry from 1989 to the Present (2022-)

Since its renaissance at the turn of the 19th century, the concept of Heimat shares an intimate relationship with language. Although the renaissance of the word at that time seems closely interwoven with the notion of a homogeneous German nation-state and the establishment of the ‘monolingual paradigm’ (Yildiz), this constellation does not remain unchanged throughout history. Exemplary for this is the revival of Heimat in the last three decades, respectively in a time of post-monolingualism, in which overt and covert multilingual phenomena are in tension with assumptions of monolingual normativity. For alongside old, regressive, place-bound semantics of Heimat, there also exist new, progressive senses that strip the concept of any nation-state specificity.

Translating National Writers: Transtemporal and Transcultural Dimensions of Symbolic Figures in National Literatures (2022-)

In her research project Translating National Writers: Transtemporal and Transcultural Dimensions of Symbolic Figures in National Literatures, Carla Dalbeck aims to comprehend the value of national writers in a transcultural and trans-temporal perspective. Taking the examples of Victor Hugo and Alessandro Manzoni, both considered national writers in their respective nations, she aims to dissect the complex interconnections between source texts and translations that cause a (de)valorisation of the writer and their work as literary currencies.

Tense and Time: The Politics and History of Present-tense Fiction (2022-)

This project explores the historical rise of present-tense fiction throughout the 20th century. It focuses on the link between present-tense narratives and the growing prominence of non-normative temporalities in fiction—the non-linear, non-teleological temporalities of traumatized, female, queer, disabled, and other marginalized subjects. The project argues that this link repeatedly enabled the present tense to become a narrative strategy that lends a voice to the Other.

The Birth of Monolingualism from Multilingualism (2022-)

Questions of literary multilingualism have received increased attention in recent years. This is especially true of the research on globalisation and the translation of literature, which has shown that even modern national literatures are bound to temporal interconnections and historical conjunctures of transmission. The concept of post-monolingualism, introduced to describe contemporary global developments, clearly emphasizes this temporal dimension. Against this background, the comparative project centers on pre-monolingualism, and therefore focusses on the beginnings of modern monolingualism and its impact on the development of a linguistic norm and national standard language.

Moving Images, Transforming Germanness: Race, Migration and Transnational Filmmaking in Germany, 1968–1989 (2021-)

This project employs a ‘postmigrant frame of reading’ (Moslund/Petersen) to interrogate film archives from the 1970s and 1980s and their construction and critique of Germany’s politics of difference. Without ignoring mainstream German films that deal with migration and racism from both the East and the West, it examines primarily fictional and documentary films made by migrants and non-Germans that tackle Germany’s politics of racialization and its function within German racial capitalism: from short films made by Black students visiting German film schools; Turkish productions set in Germany, such as Almanya Aci Vatan (1979); films made by Jewish immigrants like Jeanine Meerapfel; or those by exiled filmmakers such as Sohrab Shahid Saless, Kidlat Tahimik and Želimir Žilnik. In tracing the journey of these filmmakers and their filmmaking traditions, the project is less interested in an aesthetics of migration than in the migration of aesthetics.

Farm Animals in French and German Media Literature. Genealogy of a European Imagination of Rurality (1848-1945) (2021-)

The Webs ‘We’ Tell. Making community through ‘conversations’ across contemporary Afrodiasporic literature (2021-2024)

In her research project, Raphaëlle Efoui-Delplanque reads contemporary literary works alongside material collected online and from interviews with authors in order to understand how literature functions as a site of community-making across a spectrum of people of African descent marked by differences in language, culture, class, and gender, among other aspects.

A Dialogue from Time to Time. Translation and Literary Multilingualism (2021-2024)

This project investigates the time-bound nature and temporality of literary translations and their different historical circumstances. It examines the transnational circulation of literary texts in translation from the eighteenth century to the present and with the help of select case studies. The aim is to shed light on the question of value creation and appreciation for literary translation with regard to their divergent status within literary criticism and the book markets, especially in light of the fact that translation as a means of bridging time inherently bears the potential to strengthen communities. Moreover, the project will critically probe current models and practices of literary translation and test them out in collaborative formats involving translators, students and young scholars.

Digital Constructions of Authorship (2020-2023)

This project will investigate new, digital models of authorship that transcend classic concepts. Concepts of authorship – including ideas about ‘the charismatic artist’ and ‘intellectual property’ – will be probed for how they have changed, for example, through the shifting temporalities of the digital and new media forms of interactivity.

Beyond the book – Concepts and practices of public readings (2020-2022)

Literary installations, visual presentations of texts, literary exhibitions, performances, and happenings in public spaces, the use of new media and technologies – the spectrum of literary presentations that seek to go beyond the traditional "glass of water" reading is vast. Challenging the idea of an original artwork and individual authorship, collaborative works and digital language techniques are gaining relevance, setting into motion a fundamental reflection on the triad of author/originatorship, work, and recipient, with meaningful consequences for publication and dissemination practices. In complementary formats of literary research and cultural practice the project seeks to investigate the relation between process and product, author and interpreter, event and text.


Over a period of two years and in complementary formats of literary research and collaborative practice, MOTDYNAMO seeks to investigate how the reflection, adaptation, and application of avant-garde concepts of translation informs current digital language art and how it may shape future literary practices.

Studying Academic Discussions on the Art of Poetry in Late Renaissance Florence (2020-)

This project pursues a collaborative digitally based investigation in the field of early modern European aesthetics. It focuses on the Accademia degli Alterati – an academy of about 140 members active from 1569 to c. 1630.

Poetics of Radical Vulnerability in Contemporary Literature (2019-2023)

This project investigates poetry from Chinese, American/English and German writers who first started publishing their writings online (on Twitter, Instagram, Weixin, Weibo, etc.) and were later “discovered” by editors and publishers from the more traditional/established literary field. Schneider’s work considers the power struggles that emerge when poems originally written for an online audience are transferred into the analogue publishing industry and thereby stress the seemingly stable notion of literature.

Body/Images – Foreign/Gazes: (Feminine) Territoriality and Corpography in Latin American graphic narratives (2019-2022)

Over the last two decades, graphic narratives have become a prominent artistic space of feminist resistance in Latin America. Although the comics scene is still dominated by male artists and readers, women are increasingly using the medium to question and de- and reframe hegemonic and heteronormative social structures and visualities. They are, moreover, challenging and re-appropriating lines imposed not only by their male peers but also by colonial and ‘Western’ art traditions. As Tim Ingold (2007) argues, the ‘imposition of lines’ is a modus operandi of colonialism, which “proceeds first by converting the paths along which life is lived into boundaries in which it is contained, and then by joining up these now enclosed communities, each confined to one spot, into vertically integrated assemblies.” Such ideas were recently taken up in relation to graphic narratives during the international conference ‘Crisis Lines: Coloniality, Modernity, Comics’ (City, University of London, 9-10 June 2021). Drawing on Boaventura de Sousa Santos’s (2007) reference to the ‘abyssal line structuring of Western Modernity’, this project will develop and expand on these interventions by exploring the anti-colonial potential of comics and graphic narratives by Latin American women.

Writing Berlin (2019-2024)

The project “Writing Berlin” will study the manifold activities promoting inter­national literary exchange that took place in the divided city after the building of the Berlin Wall. There will be an emphasis on the selection processes and on the cultural and political implications of these activities, on their effects on actual literary writing and on how the changing political environ­ment affected the social roles and existence of the authors concerned.