The Project


WWU University of Münster – KIT Karlsruhe Institute of Technology

Supported by Volkswagen Foundation
Funding Line Offen für Außergewöhnliches – Off the Beaten Track

LITERARY MODELLING AND ENERGY TRANSITION (LMET) is a collaborative research and consulting network at the University of Münster (WWU) and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). Funded by the Volkswagen Foundation, LMET targets one of the most controversial challenges – and most ambiguous topics – of contemporary science and society: the modelling of energy transition. Analysing the transition energies that forcefully emerge whenever long-established strategies, technologies and energy resources are to be replaced by new and non-conventional alternatives, the research group develops a strategic roadmap for a thorough understanding of the process at large. By viewing it both as a technological and as a cultural endeavour, LMET takes into account the hidden or subdued agendas of the technosocial setting in question: of the undisclosed aesthetic, ethical, political, historical and even esoteric values that pervade the Energy Imaginary and its narratives.


Germany’s Energy Transition Project is not only the country’s most daring technological endavour, it is also its new master narrative. In targeting the narratives of Global Warming, Global Economic Growth and Demographic Change this master narrative provides a rescue program of gigantic dimensions. The temporal and spacial range of this transition, encompassing the whole country through the year 2050, shows a mythical, if not chiliastic design. In this design the whole emerges as a quest of every individual; the longue durée creates imediacy. Thus, with regard to numerous apokalyptic energy scenarious the Energy Transition Project is regarded to be necessary, overdue and irrevocable. It seems to be an apriori of a the great negotiations of society and it affects the smallest units of our indidual lifes. It cannot and must not fail.

LITERARY MODELLING AND ENERGY TRANSITION is a joint research project of the WWU Münster und the KIT Karlsruhe Institute for Technology. The project targets the development of a transdisciplinary theory of modelling within the experimental framework of the KIT Energy Transition Project „Energy System 2050“. The project scrutinizes the prevailent metanarrative, that Energy Transition, as a discourse, has establihed in the contact zone of possible conflicts and crises, advanced technologies and daring prospects of future. The narratives, however, that create and guide the Energy Transition discourse, have been constituted by a set of models which themselves are far from being narrative: by technical and mathematical models, by conventions of scientific style, by imaging procedures, by established practices and standards, by procedures of statistic prognostics, by routines of sharing and distributing research results. This border zone of narrative, aesthetic and scientific modelling will be the target of the LMET project. It investigates the Energy Transition discourse with regard to three perspectives: theory, analysis and criticism, distribution and consultancy within and beyond the academy.

LITERARY STUDIES contributes to LMET’s working programme by developing a literary theory of modelling. It refers to problems of poetic modelling and regulation both from the perspective of the history of genre and form – especially concerning the development of mobile narratives and modal experimentation (‚modality management‘) –, and with regard to problems of reception and validation that result from the enhancement of the literary tableau. Moreover, in response to Armin Grunwald’s critical approach to technological prognostics, literary studies will engage in the development of a transdisciplinary hermeneutics of modelling. It also contributes to the analysis and validation of the modelling procedures carried out within the model architecture of „Energy Lab 2.0“. – The modellers’ activities, their social practices and epistemic agency, are monitored by a medial setup (interviews, videography, self- and cross-assessment etc.) to which Education Science provides the theoretical frame. The research group pursues a strategy of model transfer that may function as a pedagogy and didactics both of modelling and model consulting. Thus, it may communicate the intricate demands and ways of modelling (not only wth regard to energy transition) to decision makers in the industry as well as in politics, and to the public at large.

Within this transdisciplinary research scope the LMET project is intent on teaming two specific types of modelling – of literature and of technology – to render comprehensible the intricate procedures and decisions inherent in energy change. In doing so, the project will enhance the ways of intergrating public feedback into the expert debates.
The unconventional collaboration is supported by the Volkswagen Foundation for a 4-years periode with an overall allowance of 940.000,- EUR.