Chair for Western European Literature
We understand the term ‘Chair for Western European Literature’ as a challenge to examine ways of representation especially (but in no way exclusively) in literary texts. This requires a critical approach to study, teaching and research. What is said depends on how it is said – this rhetorical insight is essential for scientific work in literary studies.
In addition to the analysis of the complex interaction of rhetorical, aesthetical, medial and material practices, strategies and procedures, we also call for a reading of tradition which goes against the grain, for the exploration of mechanisms of canonization and for careful philological work on ‘another canon’. The attribute ‘Western European’ does not so much define a narrowly delineated area but rather an, often tacit, perspective on literature, aesthetics and culture. This requires an adequate comparative and cultural-theoretical reflection. Carrying out literature studies within a context of cultural studies means, for us, the tearing down of barriers: we understand literature as an object that is never unambiguously determinable.
The Frankfurt model of literary studies, with its special location, invokes its founding figures Baumgarten and Kleist. As crossers of boundaries, these two names stand for a constantly recurring moment of crisis that productively sets in motion the orders of knowledge between philosophy and literature, science and art, thought and representation.