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

Focus I:

Literature and Science. Systematic and Methodological Perspectives

How can scholars of literature and science enter into a dialogue with each other? How can one describe the relationship between literature and science? These are the two guiding questions of this working group. It thus forms the foundational module for the other working groups, insofar as it sets out to analyse the methodological requirements for interdisciplinary research.

In light of the first question, it will be necessary to establish and critically discuss the respective self-understanding of each discipline. One must primarily clarify in how far natural sciences and literary studies are different and/or overlap in their practices of knowledge production as well as in their epistemological foundations: in their concept of truth, in their claim of objectivity and validity of their findings, as well as in the definition and status of knowledge, in their methodological approaches, and in their limitation and determination of the research objects. To achieve this, positions of philosophy of science, sociology of science, and history of science must be taken into account. The goal of this working group is to sharpen its own understanding of science in discussion and confrontation with its own implicit conditions and the self-conceptions of other disciplines. By fathoming differences and commonalities, a dialogue can be initiated.

In light of the second question regarding the interface between literature and science, various cultural-studies approaches (discourse- and interdiscourse analysis, material/practical turn, New Historicism, poetology of knowledge, systems theory) provide tools in order to both discuss this interrelation and to provide an exemplary model for interdisciplinary research. In contrast to the philosophy and history of science, these approaches focus less on science itself, but rather on knowledge, on how knowledge can be formed, created, and passed on, across and beyond the boundaries of individual disciplines. Through this focus, the methodologies of cultural studies can uncover a series of thematic (models, concepts, problems) and narrative (strategies of narration and representation) interfaces between science and literature. In order to analyse the various forms of representation and narration inherent in both the presentation of scientific results and in literary texts, the research group will also include approaches of cognitive narratology. It is the goal of this working group to test the validity and productivity of these methods in light of the —in contrast to the social sciences and humanities— rather less noticed physics, not least in order to develop its own approach to conceive adequately the specific interrelations between natural sciences and literature.

Viewed as a whole, the working group strives for a meta-reflection, on the way a dialogue between specific disciplines can be established, and how the relationships between their objects can be described. In order to do so, all natural sciences shall be included successively for two reasons: On the one hand, this prepares the planned opening of the project to other natural sciences. On the other hand, this can answer the foundational question in what way each natural science is characterised by a specific self-understanding, and whether the relationship between one particular science and literature is marked by a specificity, which will require its own framework of research. In order to reach these goals, we have planned workshops, lectures, and conferences, which, in conjunction with the other working groups, address the foundations of an interdisciplinary research between the natural sciences and literature and discuss the interrelations between literature and science on the basis of exemplary case studies.