Research Focus: History of Theory

Prior to the reduction of literature to ›belles lettres‹ at the end of the 18th century, the concept included other fields of erudition such as rhetoric, poetics, religion, natural history, and the arts. Those intellectual traditions and interpretive practices did not simply disappear around 1800, but rather underwent a transformation. One of the effects of this change was the emergence of theory, originally limited to literary theory. From the 18th century onwards, ›theory‹ has been the name given to the study of the discursive conditions that organize any given culture. It has since expanded and turned into a mode of observation with its own historical developments and genre conventions. Theory, as a meta-discourse, is part of a history that surpasses a simple recapitulation of the theories and ›turns‹ that have come and gone since the 1960s.

Current Research Projects