Comparative Literature and „Leiblichkeit“ (finished)
Comparative Literature addresses corporeality under three aspects. On the side of production aesthetics, it examines the author and his creative process. On the side of reception aesthetics, it focuses on the reader and the narrative of the text reading. And on the side of poetology, it is concerned with the literary work, integrating two levels of corporeality; first, corporeality as theme of the work itself, and second, corporeality as state of the reader constituted by the work during its reading. Our project shall concentrate on the third aspect, the poetological approach.
The connection of body, soul, and spirit has always been a theme of poetry that offers literary interpretations of human being. The poet deals with the same topics as the sciences, but he does so in a way that provides access to these topics beyond the approaches usually used in scientific research. The representation of illness in “Zauberberg”, for example, exceeds any medical textbook’s knowledge; on the other side, the psychiatrist Richard von Krafft-Ebing names sexual deviations after authors of literary work (sadism, masochism). With its interpretation of poetry, comparative literature also provides material that at times surpasses, other times confirms the view of involved disciplines. At the same time, comparative literature depends on the concepts developed by other sciences to access the human being. The more subtle the formulation of these concepts, the greater the possibilities for literary studies to expose the situation presented in the text. Non-dualistic psychiatric conceptions that pursue the connection of soul, body, and spirit (Karl Jaspers, Viktor Emil von Gebsattel, Werner Janzarik) are hereby of particular relevance. These theories are waiting for literary applications and feedback.
The goal of this subproject is to develop the concepts that are necessary to articulate the anthropological knowledge of poetry through an intensive exchange between the disciplines involved. In addition, a second line of research analyzes the aesthetic state of the reader, as guided by the work, during the process of reading. The core of this state can be termed as “pleasure of the text” (Roland Barthes). Based on this core, connections to Kant’s aesthetics as well as to empirical aesthetics can be drawn. Within the project, both lines of research will be put into relation with each other, in order to establish potentials for a comprehensive analysis of corporeality.