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What Literature Knows

Forays into Literary Knowledge Production


Edited By Antje Kley and Kai Merten

This volume sheds light on the nexus between knowledge and literature. Arranged historically, contributions address both popular and canonical English and US-American writing from the early modern period to the present. They focus on how historically specific texts engage with epistemological questions in relation to material and social forms as well as representation. The authors discuss literature as a culturally embedded form of knowledge production in its own right, which deploys narrative and poetic means of exploration to establish an independent and sometimes dissident archive. The worlds that imaginary texts project are shown to open up alternative perspectives to be reckoned with in the academic articulation and public discussion of issues in economics and the sciences, identity formation and wellbeing, legal rationale and political decision-making.

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List of Contributors

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List of Contributors

Matthias Bauer is professor of German Literary Studies at Europe University Flensburg. His research interests focus on narratives in different media (especially literature, film) and different times, ranging from the 17th to the 20th century. He is also interested in diagrams and the history of science. See also:

Aleksandra Boss is a research assistant at the Department of English and American Studies at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. Among her fields of interest are the literatures of the Early Republic and the Antebellum, the literatures and cultures of self-improvement, as well as spiritual and religious traditions in America such as Deism, Unitarianism, Transcendentalism, New Thought, and Christian Science. More currently, her research has focused on the representations and constructions of democracy in Thomas Paine and Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Cord-Christian Casper has recently completed his PhD on Political Alterity in Early Modernism at Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel. His research explores the intersection of literary and political theory, with a focus on the poetics of anarchism and radicalism. Further research areas include modernist language theory, image-text relations, and graphic storytelling, as well as new materialisms of all stripes. See also

Philipp Erchinger is senior lecturer in Modern English Literature at Heinrich-Heine-University Düsseldorf. His research interests include poetry and prose of the long 19th century, literature among the arts and sciences and, increasingly, the ecology of literary work. He has written extensively on contingency and narrative form as well as on ways of knowing in Victorian literature and science. See also:

Justus Conrad Gronau is an assistant professor and postdoctoral researcher in English Literature at Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel. His main ← 335 | 336 → research interests include the relationship between aesthetics, poetics, and epistemology within literature from the 17th century up to the present (with a special interest in the poetry and philosophy of Romanticism), and literary theories such as hermeneutics, deconstruction, posthermeneutics, phenomenology and the aesthetics of presence. In this context, his current postdoctoral project deals with the representations of indigenous epistemes, alternative forms of knowledge production, and non-Western world approaches within Indian English literature.

Anthony John Harding is emeritus professor of English, University of Saskatchewan. He co-edited volume 5 of The Notebooks of Samuel Taylor Coleridge with the late Kathleen Coburn, and is the author of The Reception of Myth in English Romanticism (1995). His more recent publications include “Religion and Myth,” in John Keats in Context, ed. Michael O’Neill (2017); “Signs of Change: Percy Shelley’s language of mutability as precursor to Darwin’s theory of evolution,” Literature Compass 13.10 (2016); “The ‘I’ in The Prelude,” in The Oxford Handbook of William Wordsworth, ed. Richard Gravil and Daniel Robinson (2015); and “Shelley, Mythology, and the Classical Tradition,” in The Oxford Handbook of Percy Bysshe Shelley, ed. Michael O’Neill and Tony Howe (2012). He has also published in Keats-Shelley Journal, English Studies in Canada, and Proceedings of the German Association of University Teachers of English.

Marcel Hartwig is an assistant professor for English and American Studies at the University of Siegen. At Chemnitz University of Technology, he handed in his PhD thesis on cultural representations of both September 11, 2001 and the attacks on Pearl Harbor as national traumata. He has contributed research papers in academic readers and international journals in the field of media studies, television studies, literary criticism, gender studies, and popular culture. Currently he is working on his postdoctoral project in the field of transatlantic studies entitled “Transit Cultures: 18th-Century Medical Discourses and Knowledge Media in the North American Colonies.”

Maria Kaspirek is a Ph.D. candidate in American Studies at FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg and a fellow of the DFG-funded research program “Presence and Tacit Knowledge.” Focusing on the American antebellum era, her dissertation ← 336 | 337 → project examines the construction and consolidation of medical and literary knowledge on mental hygiene. Her broader research and teaching interests include the reciprocal relationship between literature and medicine, pseudoscience, print culture and book history.

Martin Klepper is professor for American Literature and Culture at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. His areas of research and publication are narrative identities; visuality and perspective in the 19th century; the American postmodern and utopian novel; the history of American cinema. He is currently working on a project involving Self-Help and Mass Culture from the Progressive Era to the Depression. His latest publications are: Rethinking Narrative Identity: Persona and Perspective (2013; with Claudia Holler) and Approaches to American Cultural Studies (2017; with Antje Dallmann and Eva Boesenberg). See also:

Antje Kley is professor of American Literary Studies at FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg. Her research interests focus on aesthetic forms and cultural functions of narrative, both autobiographical and fictional, in changing media environments between the 18th century and the present. She is currently working on literature and in particular scientific but also administrative knowledge formation. Further interests include literary articulations of recognition, community, and possible futures. See also:

Albert Meier is professor of Modern German Literature at Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel. His research interests focus on the history of aesthetic/poetic theory as well as on the particular problems of prose writing and the cultural interrelationship between Italy and Germany. He is currently working on postmodern and post-postmodern literature. See also:

Kai Merten is professor of British Literature at the University of Erfurt. He has taught on British literature, British cultural and media Studies as well as on New English literatures and media. He has written books on ← 337 | 338 → the role of classical culture in contemporary poetries in English, among them Irish and Caribbean (2004), as well as on British Romanticism as a textual theatre (2014). He has also co-edited collections of essays on the construction of ethnical, national and civilizational differences in 18th- and 19th-century Europe (2006) and on the rapprochement of Postcolonial Studies and Media Studies (2016). He is the founder of the Erfurt Network on New Materialism. In general, he is interested in looking at British literature from the perspectives of medial, material and global contexts. See also:

Richard Nate is professor of English Literature and coordinator of European Studies at the Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt. In his research, he has focused on the history of utopian and dystopian literature as well as the relationship between literature and science. His book-length studies include: Wissenschaft und Literatur im England der frühen Neuzeit (2001), Amerikanische Träume: Die Kultur der Vereinigten Staaten in der Zeit des New Deal (2003), Wissenschaft, Rhetorik und Literatur: Historische Perspektiven (2009), and Biologismus und Kulturkritik: Eugenische Diskurse der Moderne (2014). He has also co-edited volumes on various subjects, most recently Cultural Identities in Europe: Nations and Regions, Migration and Minorities (2014, with Verena Gutsche), and Krieg und Frieden im Lied (2017, with Misia Sophia Doms and Bea Klüsener).

Anja Pistor-Hatam is professor of Islamic Studies at Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel. Her research interests focus on history, mainly intellectual history of Iran. Further interests include Twelver Shi’ite Islam, especially the pilgrimage to the Shiite holy places in Iraq, 19th-to early 20th-century reform movements in Iran and the Ottoman Empire, modern Iranian historiography, and “religious minorities” in Iran. She is currently working on the official discourse on human rights and human dignity in the Islamic Republic of Iran. See also:

Daniel Schäbler was awarded a PhD for a cultural-narratological study on framing strategies in English fiction. He has taught at the universities of Kiel, Graz, and Wuppertal. He is currently teaching at Hildesheim University, ← 338 | 339 → working on a postdoctoral project about historically specific forms and function of knowledge distribution in English drama in the context of an economy of knowledge. His research interests include cultural and cognitive narratology, game theory and literature, intermediality, Black British literature, theories of alterity, psychoanalysis and Victorian Gothic. He has published on Kazuo Ishiguro, Ian McEwan, computer game aesthetics, historiographic metafiction, and Asian-British coming of age narratives. Currently, he is editing an interdisciplinary volume with case studies on the relation between factuality and fictionality.

André Schwarck, English Department of Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel, received his PhD with a dissertation on Laurence Sterne’s Tristram Shandy (Kontingenz und Zeitlichkeit in Laurence Sternes Tristram Shandy, Würzburg, 2012) which analyzes the novel’s interplay of temporal, modal and generic qualities. His current research interest lies on the narratological interface of eventfulness, repetition, and seriality. Further research areas include fictionality, multinarrativity, performance studies, and tragedy.

Ann Spangenberg is a lecturer at the English Department of Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel, teaching a variety of courses from introductory classes to master courses with a broad range of subjects, centering e.g. on intermediality or identity/alterity. Her research interest focusses on constructions of identity in the contemporary English novel. She has published her dissertation Kommunikative Identität im Roman der Angelsächsischen Postmoderne: John Fowles, Peter Ackroyd, A.S. Byatt with Königshausen & Neumann.

Jutta Zimmermann is professor of North American Studies and director of the Center of North American Studies at Christian-Albrechts-University, Kiel. She has published studies on Canadian metafiction and on the gender issue in American realist fiction. She is the co-editor of essay collections on morality and ethics in literature and on Atlantic Islands in the Americas: Site of Cultural Contact and Identity as well as an anthology on postcolonial Canadian literatures. Her current research interests focus on the literature of the Indian diaspora in North America, on intersectionality as a concept of literary studies and on the multinarrative as a narratological phenomenon.