Deceleration. Modern Perception of Time and Poetic Representation of Temporality in Nineteenth-Century German Prose Writings (Stifter, Raabe)
With reference to the concept of deceleration, the research project aims to investigate the perception of temporal complexity in modernist literature, based on an analysis of the practice of poetic representation of temporality in nineteenth-century German prose writings. The project proceeds from a fundamental concept of the Priority Programme »Ästhetische Eigenzeiten« that establishes a constitutive relation of time and representation, and enquires how temporality is experienced and reflected in its cultural and historical ambiguity. Unlike the grand theories and their historical discourse and theoretical systems approach, the research project emphasizes the power of representation of aesthetic approaches in individual artistic and literary works.
The research project consists of two sub-projects and culminates in writing a PhD thesis:
a) The restitution of the epic. Stifter’s modern generic hybrids (Lukas Keiser)
When analyzing Adalbert Stifter’s texts, the debate concerning polychronic time structures intensifies, in particular in relation to the concept of the epic. The generic features of the epic adopted for modernity from Hegel’s historico-philosophical classification ‒ including continuity, slowness and an indifferent depiction of external or material objectivity ‒ structure Stifter’s work. In their »epic naïveté« (Adorno), these aspects constitute a criticism of acceleration dynamics and are part of an epic promise of happiness that appealed to many twentieth-century authors; they must also be understood in the tradition of a counter-canon to modernity, which identifies it as a polyvalent rather than a monocentric process.
b) Polychronic densification. Poetic time-modelling in Wilhelm Raabe’s writings (Marie Drath)
In regard to Wilhelm Raabe’s literary texts, a careful reading is necessary both thematically (e.g. in the depiction of the railway, the destruction of rural idylls, the traumatic dimension of historic sceneries of war) and formally (in self-reflective repeat structures, intertextualities, permanent self-thematization of writing) to examine their time-reflective, critical potential. Wilhelm Raabe’s texts clearly distinguish themselves from the conceptions of the programmatic realists. Raabe’s formal complexity is particularly effective in layering and condensing different time levels such as biblical time, fairytale time, idyllic time, prehistoric time, contemporary time. In its poetic temporalities, Raabe’s writing anticipates a polychronic quality of aesthetic modernity.