Contact Address:
Prof. Dr. Klaus Mecke
Institut für Theoretische Physik
Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg
Staudtstraße 7
91058 Erlangen
Phone: +49-9131-85 28441
Fax: +49-9131-85 28444

Contact Address:
Dr. Aura Heydenreich
Germanistik und Komparatistik
Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg
Bismarckstraße 1b
91054 Erlangen
Phone: +49-9131-85 22978

Dr. Mike Sinding

Genre Dynamics and Functions: Blending, Framing and Worldview
Postdocotoral Project
ELINAS Erlangen Center for Literature and Natural Science
Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg


This project comprises two sub-projects: 1. Genera Mixta: Genre Mixture and Conceptual Blending; and 2. Framing the World: Genre as Worldview. These overlap on the topic of tragicomedy, so I focus on defining cognitive models of tragedy, comedy, their blended forms, and their roles in framing political discourse.

Genera Mixta

My dissertation develops a framework for analyzing genres as cognitive models, to help explain the complex facts of genre categorization (including the “family resemblance” or “prototype” structure of category membership), and the myriad ways in which genres are conceived and used. My case study of Menippean satire proposes an integrated model of its structure (narrative, metaphoric imagery and form) by analyzing its history and main exemplars, particularly its role in the early novel. Building on that work, I adapt Conceptual Blending Theory as a framework for analyzing genre mixture and change. Blending is a general “mechanism of creativity” for conceptual combination at many levels: words, syntax, discourse, and more. I analyze various dimensions of genre blending in a range of major genres (the novel and its aspects of epic, romance, picaresque, biography and autobiography; letters and epistolarity; the sermon; drama; satire) and authors (Lucian, Cervantes, Sterne, Richardson, Joyce, Pynchon). My final study will compare blending of narrative and emotional patterns in tragicomedy, one of the best-known and most important forms of genre mixture. I compare pivotal texts in the early modern creation and the modernist recreation of tragicomedy: the first English tragicomedy, John Fletcher's Faithful Shepherdess (1608) (an adaptation of Guarini's Il Pastor Fido, 1590); Shakespeare's Winter's Tale (1623); and Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot (1953).  

Framing the World

Cognitive research shows that “common sense” worldviews 1. guide local interpretation, emotion, evaluation, reasoning and discourse, and 2. have narrative and metaphorical structure. When they conflict, people misunderstand one another, and attribute beliefs to non-cognitive causes (interest, conformity, ignorance). Worldview thus grounds communication and cultural interaction as well as individual thought . I analyze a major worldview conflict to develop principles and models for studying worldview. My research question is: how are conservative and liberal worldviews structured? I propose that they are significantly structured by contrasting versions of metaphorical and narrative models for key moral-political concepts, and that those metaphorical and narrative models are in turn structured by concepts of embodied energy. I elaborate and test these models by analyzing the first formulations of conservatism and liberalism in the major texts of the French Revolution Debate in 1790s Britain: Edmund Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France, and Thomas Paine’s Rights of Man.