Transformations and Transfers. Space and Literary History


Space analysis as a social and cultural process.

In the face of geopolitical upheaval in Europe as well as globalisation, space since the 1980's – with the spatial turn in the humanities – has become a main category of analysis. Through this new interest in construction possibilities, realities and virtualities of space, various research perspectives have been established: space "arises" in a complex, contradictory societal and cultural process in which the specific location of cultural practices and the dynamics of social relationships indicate changeability and therefore historicity of space. The research aims to analyse spaces which are real and imaginary, physical and symbolic, territorial and transversally overlapping, discovered and constructed, negotiated spatial practice and visual representations.

For such analyses of historical spatial orders and their dynamism, arts and in particular literature play a decisive role. This is because literature uses concrete and abstract spaces, topoi and microcosmoses in order to observe and comment on the macrocosmos of historical and societal processes, in order to produce conflictual meetings and events, and in order to act out visions of other living conditions and power balances.

The cooperation project "Transformations and Transfers: Literary spatial orders and their dynamism", which is led by Prof. Ulrike Vedder (Humboldt Universität zu Berlin), Prof. Annegret Pelz (University of Vienna) and Prof. Grażyna Kwiecińska (University of Warsaw), devotes itself simply to the study of these spatial orders produced in literature. Three historical focuses are set: modern age (19th century), post-war eras (after 1918, after 1945) and the present (since 1989/90). Scholars of literary and cultural studies of all qualification levels explore the outlined processes with regard to their literary potentials and designs in workshops, inter-university seminars, collaborative publications and an Autumn University.