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A strategy of excellence : Berlin explores literature in a global perspective

in The beginning there was only one word: world literature. Thus, the then President of the Free University (FU), Peter is approached-André Alt in 2016 at him, remembers Andrew James Johnston, free University, Professor of English Philology. Whether to develop the theme, a cluster of excellence, a large, interdisciplinary research project. Johnston to handle the idea together with a colleague, Anita Traninger, a Professor at the Institute for romance Philology, immediately excited. "Finally, the Humanities are one of the areas of focus of the FU," says Traninger. Why not make a application car that could be applied to Existing build? "Starting from the relatively coarse notion of world literature, we had to develop a concept that excellence is capable of," says Johnston.

This is a success. With his literary Cluster the FU made at the end of September a landing point. All the more remarkable, because the spirit are represented on the scientific topics of the 57 approved clusters rather weak. Overall, the research location of Berlin could rejoice in the seven successful projects will now be funded for seven years. Between three and ten million per year and per Cluster; the total annual funding amount to 385 million euros.


What is it in literature-the project specifically? The somewhat unwieldy English title is "Temporal Communities – Doing Literature in a Global Perspective," ( Although the word world literature at the beginning, avoid the researchers, it is now aware of – because everyone immediately think of Canon and literary best selection, explained Johnston. Emphasizes the group-dynamic factor of literary reception, as well as the performative Element should be instead. Literary texts not only between the covers of a book to discover, but make much more on stage, in cinema, in music or the oral Tradition to the audience. Temporary reception communities, carrying the literature in turn, and write.

These complex networks in space and time will now be examined in detail. Methodologically, this is ambitious. Still the history of literature is written mostly along of authors and eras, to determine questions of the two categories frequently, the research. This narrowing is about to leave the Cluster. Less is, like, for example, Schiller in his Shakespeare read, and what traces of reading are to be found in Schiller's work, explains Johnston. "We would rather ask: What of Shakespeare is produced by Schiller's reception?". And read the German Shakespeare, since, by Schiller's glasses, while the French Shakespeare saw in the times of the enlightenment as the middle ages and the show's author – and the Indians with him in the colonialist teaching of English in the 19th century. Century as a cultural Ideal it was?

Six international destinations - for example, in the United States, Japan, and India

authors and their texts, so a basic assumption of the cluster, are constantly for ideological, political or cultural purposes operationalised. What is the difference between these contexts regional? International collaborations are to help you not to look at literary Communities and networks only with a Western European tunnel vision. Traninger and Johnston have set up the Cluster for wide: the 25-member core group at the FU, and researchers from the region of Berlin-Brandenburg for more of six international partner universities, for example, in the United States, Japan, and India.

A private building is being set up, opposite the Botanical garden in the old stone street 15. Over the period of seven years, with around 40 PhD students and 30 postdoctoral fellow to be filled. Johnston and Traninger also with approximately 100 guest researchers who come for one to six months to Berlin. Not only literary scholars have the opportunity, with a research project on the emerging structures of the cluster dock. Also Film-, theatre-, music scholars, and art historians are welcome. "We have in the FU a long Tradition of interdisciplinary collaboration. That you have to edit the literature, and the arts together, is a matter of course for us,“ says Traninger.

Painful budget cut

in Order to avoid arbitrariness, were key questions formulated. At least one of which must address the candidate to join the Cluster in their research projects: What is a Community? How do mediality and materiality? What kind of future is designed in the literature? What happens when literature circulates? And how can the Digital map? Generous amount of money, the Cluster cannot distribute. Sensitive to the "Temporal Communities" immediately after the decision in the cluster competition has become known reduction of 26%, the flat rate will be charged for all of the cluster of excellence has made. The reason is that Originally, the funding should be distributed to 45 to 50 applicants. Federal education Minister Anja Karliczek (CDU) pushed through in the licensing round but that 57 projects are to be supported – without the means to be increased.

"We have costs, especially personnel, therefore, this is painful," says Traninger. Because they wanted to save the Young, was cancelled a planned professorship, Fellow-shorter stays. Especially the FU-researchers fret about the subsequent deletions, incorrect science political signals. "It promotes the trends in Budgets is always a mark-up into it to be added," says Traninger. According to the Motto: anyone Who inflates at the beginning, artificially, can cope with at the end of savings easier. Would you have chosen in your application aware of for a streamlined calculation, "and I would do so for moral reasons – again and again."

In January, the first four research projects. One of them examined the Petrarkismus – a of Francesco Petrarca outgoing seal form – as a global phenomenon; the second deals with the long-term effect of theatre on the audience. A third is devoted to the anthology as a community pen at the end of the genus, which was for the history of many literatures formative.

Berlin as a literary place in the Cold war

The fourth project is a home game: Under the keyword "Writing Berlin," it should go to the town as a literary place during the Cold war. The reference to Berlin is not by chance: Specifically, the Cluster want to build scientists in the coming years to the vibrant Berlin literary scene, and in the city radiate. First collaborations with literature houses and festivals have already been pushed. Correctly to the Public the "Temporal Communities" in the fall of 2019, then a large public kick-off event at the FU is also planned.

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