You are here: Home

DFG-Graduiertenkolleg 2291 Gegenwart/Literatur. Geschichte, Theorie und Praxeologie eines Verhältnisses


Academic research on contemporary literature is experiencing a boom. However, when asked to define contemporary literature, scholars commonly characterize it as a certain period. Neither its historical nor its practical dimensions have as yet been analyzed. The aim of the graduate school is therefore to investigate the constitutive elements of the concept of ‘contemporary literature’ in a comparative perspective. Instead of taking such terms as ‘contemporaneity’ and ‘contemporary literature’ for granted, the conditions of their emergence will be examined. The concept of ‘the contemporary’ as well as discourses and practices that establish a relationship between literature and its respective ‘present’ will be understood to be historically contingent. Thus, the graduate school will reconstruct a history of producing, legitimizing, and transforming interconnections between ‘the present’ and ‘literature’, thereby laying the groundwork for a theoretically and historically informed criticism of contemporary literature. The complex ‘contemporary/literature’ will be explored from four different vantage points:

1. the emergence of variant concepts of ‘the present’/‘the contemporary’ and their involvement with philosophical ideas of time as well as their medial and social settings will be examined.

2. the semantics of the term ‘contemporary literature’ will be traced in its historical and (inter-)cultural transformations, thereby taking into account the question of how (and since when) literary texts refer to contemporary issues.

3. the study of contemporary literature within the institutions of academic scholarship will be analyzed from a historical and praxeological perspective.

4. within a praxeological framework, the question will be raised how the institutions of the literary world (publishers, newspapers, agencies, archives, academies, jurys etc.) collaboratively construct the entity of contemporary literature. In all these areas, the topoi, tropes, practices and formalities that constitute the discourse of contemporary literature are to be identified.


The graduate school will operate on the basis of a carefully crafted program of qualification and supervision. It aims to enable its doctorate and post-doctorate members to participate in advanced scholarly discussions and to work out their individual research projects in a stimulating cross-disciplinary environment. Particular emphasis will be laid on negotiating contacts to the practical sphere of the literary world, in order to qualify participants not only for academic careers but also for professions in the business of literature.

Document Actions