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Projects Research Area 4

Theory Circulation. Issues, Processes and Histories of a Globalised Way 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.

The Time of Others: Present-tense Fiction and Non-normative Temporalities (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.

In Light of Others: Mythical Norms and Multidirectional Poetics in U.S. and German Film, 1970s to Today (2021-)

Starting from Michael Rothberg's call for a "new comparatism" driven by a "multidirectional" approach, the project creates a transnational and transtemporal framework to interrogate non-white and postmigrant film archives in the U.S. and Germany, focusing on visual and narrative strategies of marking and countering the "mythical norm" (Audre Lorde) embedded in the racialized cultural imaginations of American whiteness and German Leitkultur, respectively. Mobilizing the threefold meaning of the concept postmigrant as 'after', 'behind' and 'beyond' migration, the project combines historical, sociological and aesthetic analysis with literary models of thinking that forego both a reductive universalism and a celebration of cultural difference and intercultural exchange as such––models such as W.E.B. Du Bois's notion of "double consciousness", Edouard Glissant's "poetics of relation" and Max Czollek's politics of "disintegration". It seeks to develop an understanding of film as itself a multidirectional space, capable of invoking connections between contexts and "building new worlds out of the materials of older ones" (Rothberg).

Comparative Study of Translations of American Dime Novels and their Circulation in Europe (1905-1945) (2021-)

The study of the content and reception of dime novels in various European countries reveals an ongoing process of actualisation and re-negotiation of the idea of America in European mental horizons. So far only their fictional mechanisms and national receptions have been studied - their original system of publication, translation and creolisation still remains underexplored. This PhD project aims at highlighting the many aspects of the translating mechanics of dime novels. Their circulation and materiality will be carefully examined in order to study the multiple embodiments of the idea of America in Germany, France, Great Britain, Italy and Spain. A comparison will be drawn between different translations of American dime novels, as well as between a select number of European imitations of American dime novels. This series of re-negotiations will be set within the broader context of the growing political and cultural influence of the United States and show the conditions of the resistance of ancient European literary imaginaries.

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

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-)

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-)

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-)

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-)

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-)

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.