Program Area World Literature

While the notion of world literature emerged together with the national philologies in the 19th century, it also competes with them and offers ways to overcome their divisions. Today, world literature refers to the specific global conditions shaping the realm of literature and to the effects globalization has had on literary production and its reception in a rapidly changing society. However, world literature also suggests that literature is more than just a representation or reflection of particular realities—it creates worlds and shapes realities. Our goal is therefore not the study of all the world’s literatures but an exploration of how different literatures form and help understand certain worlds.

The ZfL’s long-standing study of East-European literature is a good example. Eastern European cultures belong to a politically, ethnically, and religiously fraught region at the “margins” of Europe. In light of recent crises, research into the region’s literature and culture prompts a critical examination of Europe’s hegemonic self-presentation.

Current Research Projects

Projects of this program area, completed or processed in the past

(selected, chronologically sorted by year of completion)