Fachbereich 7

Sprach- und Literaturwissenschaft

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Sabine N. Meyer

Titel: "Visions of Peoplehood and Indigenous Futurity in Native American Removal Literature."

Fachrichtung: Amerikanische Kultur- und Literaturwissenschaft

This project demonstrates that ever since the actual event took place in the 1830s, Native writers have returned to the Indian Removal in order to discuss forms of Native collective legal subjectivity deriving from indigenous concepts of legal and political authority, yet also in reference to the jurisdictional authority established by the settler colonial state. Far from only centering upon the traumatized Native individual subject, feeling alienated and deprived of its identity through relocation, the Native removal writings selected for this study engage with the Native collective legal subject, whose sovereignty and rights to the land are attacked by the settler state. They employ this major moment of disenfranchisement and dispossession in the history of Native-settler relations to engage in reflections on the contours of Native peoplehood. They deal with the questions of how Native collectives can define and assert their own indigenous social, cultural, and legal-political order and proprietary practices within the existing power structures of the settler colonial nation and of which place the Native individual should have in this social order. By linking historical past, narrative present, and political future, these narratives emphasize indigenous political and cultural persistence rather than disappearance.

The aesthetic mediations and narrative constructions of Native peoplehood and indigenous futurity are explored through contrapuntal readings of a wide range of U.S. and Native American legal texts as well as international law texts (court decisions, laws, correspondence, committee reports) and non-fictional and fictional works on the Indian Removal (memorials, petitions, speeches, newspaper articles, histories, novels) by Native American writers from the time of removal up to the present day.


Anja Höing

Titel: Conceptions of Childhood in Renaissance Literature

Fachrichtung: Early Modern English Literature

This project is set to explore competing concepts of childhood in British Renaissance writing. As yet, literary scholars have mainly approached humanist and puritan discourses of childhood in early modern England as diametrically opposed and conceptually incompatible. This project will trace the shared roots of both concepts, arguing that despite their disparate stances on the nature of the child, puritan and humanist concepts of childhood both position the child in close connection with the natural world.



Anja Höing

Titel: Reading Divine Nature – Religion and Nature in English Animal Stories

Fachrichtung: British Literature / Children’s Literature / Ecocriticism

This study traces the connections between nature and religion in (predominantly British) talking animal stories, arguing that talking animal stories construct ‘Nature’ as a quasi-religious entity and the animal protagonist as an environmental role model. Establishing links between literary texts and current conceptions of ecosystems as well as socio-cultural debates on the human place in nature, this study proposes that many animal stories simultaneously deconstruct and reinforce a human/nature dualism and in doing so reflect the very ideology they seek to challenge. (Anja Höing. Reading Divine Nature – Religion and Nature in English Animal Stories. Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Trier, 2017.)


Leonid Berov

Titel: "A Computational Storytelling System Grounded in Character Focused Narrative Models"

Fachrichtung: Computational Storytelling

In collaboration with the Institute for Cognitive Science, my thesis project attempts to conceptualize and implement a computational model of story generation, which is informed by narratological theory as well as cognitive modeling.

It approaches this problem starting from a mimetic stance towards fictional characters, that is, describing characters as intentional agents with discernible internal states like beliefs, desires, and affect. This allows investigating how narrative phenomena related to these paper beings can be computationally recreated in a multi-agent simulation system. Based on this internal perspective on narrative, the project also explores how from an external perspective the creative generation of plot can be controlled, and how the quality of the resulting plot can be evaluated, as a function of fictional characters.

The aim is to contribute to research on computational creativity by conceptualizing and implementing an evaluative storytelling system, and to narratology by proposing a generative narrative theory based on several post-structuralist descriptive ones. By using research methods from computer science to address problems from narrative theory this project also explores the use of interdisciplinary research methodology.

Related publications

Further Information

Irina Brittner

Titel: "Literary Legality: Codifications of Violence in Contemporary U.S. American Literature"

Fachrichtung: Amerikanische Kultur- und Literaturwissenschaft

My PhD project operates at the intersection of American literary studies, Postmodernist aesthetics and law and/in literature. It examines representations of graphic violence, images of individual as well as collective chaos in the American literary and cultural imagination, and the formal and ideological discourses justifying transformation/the status quo in selected novels published between 1985 and 2015. In the novels under consideration, written by such prominent authors as Cormac McCarthy, Bret Easton Ellis, Chuck Palahniuk, William Kennedy and Marlon James, brutal acts of violence are a central means to address larger questions of legitimacy and/or legality.

This research project proposes that these novels bring to the fore the tight conceptual nexus between violence and legitimacy. Through skillfully establishing, suspending and transgressing boundaries, either through their choice or mode of depiction, these novels analyze processes of normativity as a form of codification rather than suggesting or reaffirming products of these processes, that is ethical, religious or legal codes of belief. The novels’ most elaborate deconstructions of normativization as codification targets the concept of legality, characteristically by challenging the U.S. in its self-conception as being build on and invested in the rule of law as its prime source of authoritative legitimacy. Instead, these novels deconstruct legalized violence as an instrument in realizing vested claims to power

However, this research project also argues that these narratives propose alternative strategies to codify violence. These strategies attempt to give violence primarily an alternative aesthetic form, which would allow for an articulation of violence outside of its instrumental value and give prime attention to its formative qualities. These novels produce what I call literary legalities, new formal frameworks that ask for the readers' submission to their logic in order to be able to decode the meaning of violence in these novels, to make it legible as something more than spectacular and affective modes of writing.

Elen Le Foll

Titel: "Textbook English: A Corpus-based Analysis of Language Use in School English Textbooks from France, Germany and Spain"

Fachrichtung: Linguistics/English Didactics

This PhD project aims to give a description of the lexico-grammar of Textbook English by comparing a corpus of secondary school English textbooks from France, Germany and Spain with a corpus of native speaker English. The textbook corpus consists of all the text content, as well as audio and video transcripts, extracted from 42 modern English as a Foreign Language (EFL) textbooks and is annotated so as to enable comparisons between different text genres, intended learner level and learner L1. The composition of the native reference corpus aims to reflect the textbooks' target audience and the different registers featured in the textbooks. Multifactorial analysis as well as qualitative methods are applied to explore the key features of Textbook English. Lexico-grammatical elements of Textbook English that substantially diverge from the native corpus will be highlighted with a view to improving the authenticity and pedagogic efficiency of future EFL textbooks.