Research Training Group Literary Form Funding period: October 2013 until September 2019
Literary texts model realities in a way that is fundamentally constituted by aesthetic form. The Research Training Group takes as its subject the re-assessment and combination of two elements central to this commonplace: that of form and of the model. The former has always been at the centre of attention of literary studies as the subject of any historical or theoretical inquiry into concepts such as genre, metaphor or realism, but also of fundamental questions after fictionality and reference, mediality and materiality. Two qualifications apply, however, as recent developments have shown: on the one hand, students of history, the social sciences, and the natural sciences have also realised the vital importance of fiction and aesthetic form for their disciplines’ models of reality; on the other hand, literary studies are in danger of neglecting the specific potency of literary form, abandoning this concern for the sake of theoretical debates and the latest ‘cultural turns’. It is this twofold assessment that the Research Training Group takes as its point of departure, approaching traditional questions of literary form from the more general perspective of modelling. This approach enables literary studies, in the narrow sense of the word, to realize its innovative potential for and its interconnectivity with theoretical and historical research of a very wide scope. At the same time, it grounds the relations between extra-literary discourse and literary form in a new, ‘literary’ epistemology. Studies produced by the Research Training Group thus aim to contribute in innovative ways to the general knowledge system and its debates by re-addressing central questions of aesthetic form from a historical and systematic vantage point.