The Formation of Theory and the Critique of ›Wissenschaft‹ in the Early Twentieth Century

Theory has often been associated with a number of antiscientific or at least anti-academic sentiments. The prehistory of what has come to be referred to as “theory” and specifically the relationship between theory and the so-called “Krise der Wissenschaft” (“crisis of science”) around 1900 lies at the center of this research project. A particular focus will be placed on theory’s affinity with literature since both are dealing with phenomena that cannot be grasped discursively or conceptually. The project examines the distinctive rhetorical forms, modes of representation, and medial formats that authors deployed in what have become canonical styles of thought in order to stabilize their individual or group positions. This line of inquiry also includes examining “nonscientific” authorities like charismatic teachers and prophets as well as addressing figures of thought that were not traditionally part of accepted academic discourse like the concepts of the Tragic or the Demonic.

The focus of this project is the way in which “theory” addresses its audience, or figures an immanent or imaginary addressee of theoretical speech. Who, ultimately, does theory address and how is this reader solicited in theoretical texts? Which rhetorical and argumentative strategies does theory pursue and which types of texts are deployed in order to influence and guide the addressee? Does theory, especially in the German tradition, contribute to the formation of a monumental, singular subjectivity? Or does theory aim to mobilize communication? Is theory interested in ritual or emancipatory notions? Towards which kinds of social models does theory see itself aspiring? Is theory’s addressee conceptualized as the member of an elitist circle (itself perhaps an element of an atrophied stage in the “aesthetic state”), or rather as someone who is enabled by theory to emerge and act as a universal intellectual?

The project, which is part of the ZfL’s larger research focus on The History of Theory, assumes that the formation of theoretical discourses can be viewed from this perspective, in a way that allows discourses outside of certain schools or intellectual factions to be recognized and examined in a new light. It aims to make a significant contribution in historicizing such formations of theory from an interdisciplinary point of view.
Program funding through the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) 2017–2019
Head researcher(s): Patrick Eiden-Offe
Associate Researcher(s): Andrea Erwig, Claude Haas, Gerhard Hommer

Events

Vortrag
10 Sep 2019 · 1.15 pm

Patrick Eiden-Offe: Klassenbewusstsein oder Klassismus? Vorschläge für eine Debattenkorrektur

Literaturforum im Brecht-Haus, Chausseestr. 125, 10115 Berlin

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Lecture
07 May 2019 · 11.30 am

Andrea Erwig: Poetiken des Wartens

Università degli Studi di Milano, AULA 113, Via Festa del Perdono 7, 20122 Milano

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Lecture
28 Jan 2019 · 4.15 pm

Andrea Erwig: »Das eine weiß ich bestimmt: wir warten! Das ist unser Wert.« Robert Walsers Heldentum

Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg, Hebelstr. 25, 79104 Freiburg

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Lecture
12 Nov 2018 · 6.00 pm

Patrick Eiden-Offe: Die Erfindung von Theorie fürs 20. Jahrhundert. Georg Lukács und die »Theorie des Romans«

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Unter den Linden 6, 10117 Berlin, Hauptgebäude, Hörsaal 2002

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Lecture
07 Nov 2018 · 6.00 pm

Patrick Eiden-Offe: Peripherie und Zentrum in der Literatur- und Sozialgeschichte des 19. Jahrhunderts. Ernst Willkomm und Immanuel Wallerstein im Gespräch

Masaryk-Universität Brno, Arne Nováka 1, Raum D21

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Lecture
16 Oct 2018 · 12.30 pm

Patrick Eiden-Offe: Wissenschaft, Theorie und Ironie: Lukács' Entscheidungen

ELTE BTK Múzeum korút 4/A „Kari Tanácsterem” 1088 Budapest (Ungarn)

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Lecture
04 Oct 2018

Claude Haas: Gebannte décadence? Stefan Georges Baudelaire-Übersetzungen

Universität Zürich, Deutsches Seminar, Schönberggasse, 98001 Zürich (CH)

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Lecture
18 Jul 2018 · 6.00 pm

Andrea Erwig: Warten. Denken im Zwischenraum in Literatur und Theorie des frühen 20. Jahrhunderts

Freie Universität Berlin, Holzlaube, Fabeckstraße 23-25, 14195 Berlin, 2. 2058/59

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Lecture
14 Jul 2018 · 11.30 am

Patrick Eiden-Offe: Gibt es eine Poesie der Abstiegsgesellschaft? Literatur, Theorie, Film

Alfried Krupp Wissenschaftskolleg, Martin-Luther-Straße 14, 17489 Greifswald

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Inaugural lecture
10 Jul 2018 · 4.15 pm

Patrick Eiden-Offe: Was heißt und zu welchem Ende studiert man Theoriegeschichte?

Universität Duisburg-Essen, Forsthausweg 2, 47057 Duisburg, Raum V13 S00 D50

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Lecture
18 Jun 2018 · 8.00 pm

Patrick Eiden-Offe: Klassenkampf in der Theorie. Klassentheorie und Klassenpolitik bei Marx

Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg, Institut für Soziologie, Rempartstr. 15, 79098 Freiburg im Breisgau

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Discussion with Luise Meier and Patrick Eiden-Offe
17 May 2018 · 8.00 pm

Die MRX-Maschine. Marx ausbuddeln, Proletariat einrühren, Geschlecht aufmischen...

k-fetisch, Wildenbruchstraße 86, 12045 Berlin

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Lecture
27 Apr 2018 · 11.00 am

Claude Haas: »Keine Zeit, Zeit zu haben.« Überlegungen zur politischen Dramaturgie Jean Racines

Universität Zürich, Abteilung für Allgemeine und Vergleichende Literaturwissenschaft (AVL), Plattenstrasse 43, 8032 Zürich (CH)

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Lecture
12 Dec 2017

Claude Haas: »Der König wartet, und es harrt das Volk«. Überlegungen zur Dramaturgie des Volks in der ›klassischen‹ Tragödie

Universität Konstanz, Universitätsstraße 10, 78464 Konstanz, Raum G 306

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Contributions

Claude Haas: Fröhliche Wissenschaft – traurige Theorie? Lose Bemerkungen zu einem spannungsreichen Verhältnis, in: Bericht über das Forschungsjahr 2016, hg. vom Vorstand Geisteswissenschaftliche Zentren Berlin e.V. 2017, 61–68
Also published in: ZfL Blog. Blog des Leibniz-Zentrums für Literatur- und Kulturforschung, Berlin, 05 Feb 2018