The ZfL pursues interdisciplinary research in the areas of European cultural history and the Cultural History of Knowledge; the methodology informing this research is tied to both philology and cultural research. At the ZfL, culture is considered in terms of its double origin in cult and téchnē, literature as a medium for the transmission of historically and culturally differentiated knowledge and as an archive of cultural memory. Our research centers around the partly hidden imprint of premodern, especially religious, concepts, practices, and interpretive patterns upon modernity; and around the continuing impact of historical scholarly-scientific theories, concepts, and procedures that tends to be overlooked. Investigations focus on problems that intersect with a wide range of disciplines, being located at key junctures between the humanities, the natural sciences, and the arts. Addressing questions related to the knowledge society and the »Europeanization of Europe,« the development—at times experimental—of procedures for interdisciplinary research aims to establish an epistemology of cultural research and forms of cultural expertise. To these ends, present-day problems are studied in light of their basic historical premises: premises that are cultural, visual, and semantic in nature.
Resarchers at the ZfL come from various philological disciplines (comparative literature, German, Romance, Slavic, and North American literature); cultural studies, aesthetics and art history, musicology, media studies, religious studies, history of science, philosophy, and psychology.
The ZfL regularly hosts academics from all over the world as visiting scholars or fellows.
Current Scholars and Fellows
Under the ZfL’s Doctoral Program, doctoral candidates receive a grant from ZfL made possible by the sponsorship of BMBF. The scientific, literary and cultural historical dissertation projects, conducted at the center, correspond notably with the research profile of ZfL.
The advisory board offers advice to the administration in the planning, realization, and evaluation of research projects. Since 2008 it includes the following members:
Friends of the Center
On the occasion of ZfL’s tenth anniversary in 2006, an Association of Friends and Supporters of the Center for Literary and Cultural Research was established. The association aims to support ZfL’s work and promote exchange with the public, commerce and politics. Founding members include: Aris Fioretos (author), Bernd Kauffmann (chief representative of the Stiftung Schloss Neuhardenberg), Sabine Knapp-Lohmann (Siemens, Berlin administrative office), Beatrice Kühne (BDI), Wolfgang Thierse (vice president of the German Bundestag), and Hanns Zischler (actor, author and translator).
The ZfL organizes lectures, workshops and conferences dedicated to furthering interdisciplinary dialogue and research. These events call upon the participation and expertise of scholars from all over the world.