Forms and Functions of Relations to the World

The project negotiated correlations between literary concepts of form and world views from various perspectives, including models of wholeness and with regard to (eschatological) concepts of time and history. It thus contributed to the discussion of the concept of the world beyond the debate around research program’s discussion of world literature. Under the premise that historical conceptions of ‘world’ are to be explored on the basis of concrete ways of thinking, the project explored artistic and literary representations as well as literary theory. While the focus of the overall project was on the early 20th century, individual projects updated discourses of the 18th century for the period around 1900.

Here, the world-shaping potential of art and literature was understood not as worldliness, that is, not ‘realistic’ content or a mimetic depiction of the world, but rather the self-reflexive constitution of ‘art’ or ‘literature’ as an object of the avant-garde and literary theory. The project assumed a connection between the detachment from a concept of the world, regarded, in crisis-ridden modernity, as the epitome of a meaningfully structured whole, and the destruction of traditional work and other concepts of wholeness, which also evoked totality and harmony.

The project was divided into several sub-projects covering the period from 1900 to 1930. The sub-project Messiah of Mischief: The Oberdada Johannes Baader (1875-1955) was dedicated to the Dadaist Johannes Baader and thus opened up the context of the early avant-gardes and their messianic conceptions of history at the interface between Christian tradition and secular modernity (Lutz Greisiger).

The subproject Formalism and the Materialist Tradition. Literature, Politics, Ontology dealt with Russian formalism with regard to the relationship between literature and ontology. As an extra-academic theory of literature, Russian formalism dealt with both the avant-garde and Marxism (Siarhei Biareishyk).

The project The Work as World – The World as Linguistic Field. The Concept of ‘Inner Form’ in Early 20th Century Literary Theory examined tensions between genre and the theory of form, especially with regard to temporal concepts important for the concept of form and world (Eva Axer).

The subproject Aggregate, System, Nexus: Theory of Aesthetic Modernism dealt with mereological questions or new concepts of a morphological context in the theory of aesthetic modernism, namely with Schönberg, Kandinsky and Döblin (Ross Shields).

Program funding through the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) 2017–2019
Head researcher(s): Eva Axer
Associate Researcher(s): Siarhei Biareishyk, Lutz Greisiger, Ross Gillum Shields


Eva Axer

Siarhei Biareishyk

Lutz Greisiger

  • From “King Heraclius, faithful in Christ” to “Allenby of Armageddon”: Christian Reconquistadores Enter the Holy City, in: Konstantin Klein, Johannes Wienand (eds.): City of Caesar, City of God: Constantinople and Jerusalem in Late Antiquity. Berlin: de Gruyter 2022 (forthcoming)
  • “Und der Wolf wird beim Lamm weilen und der Leopard beim Böckchen lagern”: Selbst- und Fremdbilder in Gesprächsprotokollen aus den Reisetagebüchern der Missionare des Institutum Judaicum und deren Interpretation in der Forschung, in: Grit Schorch, Brigitte Klosterberg (eds.): Mission ohne Konversion? Studien zu Arbeit und Umfeld des Institutum Judaicum et Muhammedicum in Halle (Hallesche Forschungen 51). Halle: Verlag der Franckeschen Stiftungen Halle 2019, 87–98
  • Apokalypse, in: Falko Schmieder, Georg Toepfer (eds.): Wörter aus der Fremde: Begriffsgeschichte als Übersetzungsgeschichte. Berlin: Kulturverlag Kadmos 2018

Ross Shields


30 Oct 2019 · 7.00 pm

Lutz Greisiger: Ein zu Unrecht vergessener Zehlendorfer. Der Dadaist Johannes Baader

Heimatmuseum Zehlendorf, Clayallee 355, 14169 Berlin

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International Conference
23 Sep 2019 – 25 Sep 2019

Politics – History – Eschatology. Functional, Inter(con)textual, Structural, and Comparative Approaches to Gog and Magog

Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Bismarckstraße 1, 91054 Erlangen, Room C 202

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27 Jun 2019

Dynamic Form

ZfL, Schützenstr. 18, 10117 Berlin, Aufgang B, 3. Et., Seminarraum 303

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Seminar at the 42nd GSA Conference
27 Sep 2018 – 30 Sep 2018

Literary Morphology. Theories of Dynamic Form before and after Goethe (organized i.a. by Eva Axer und Siarhei Biareishyk)

Wyndham Grand Pittsburgh Downtown, 600 Commonwealth Pl, Pittsburgh 15222 (USA)

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Internal Workshop
31 May 2018 – 01 Jun 2018

Die ›neuen Formalismen‹ – Form, Geschichte, Gesellschaft

ZfL, Schützenstr. 18, 10117 Berlin, Seminarraum 303

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29 Mar 2018 – 04 Apr 2018

Siarhei Biareishyk: ›Materialism without Matter‹ between Jacobi and Marx

University of California, Los Angeles, Kalifornien 90095 (USA)

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