Without aiming to proclaim a veritable crisis of text and textuality in the humanities a progressive decrease of interest for the phenomenon “text” can be established in the human and social sciences alongside with an increasing attention toward visual media.
Especially in poststructuralist and cultural science oriented approaches to the so-called “text” the phenomenon is broadened beyond the possibility of precisely capturing its implications. However such a de-ontologization of the classic notion of “text” is related to a partially aggressive re-ontologization of “text”, which is just as problematic: it is quite possible to speak of a trend of wording-fundamentalisms of religious, technical, moralistic or legal nature. Neo-fundamentalist Christian as well as Islamic movements insist on a single unequivocal wording of holy texts such as the Bible or the Qur’an, established and standardized by God for all times; questions upon the authenticity of certain passages or their interpretation are expected to be resolved solely by technical means of algorithmic text-sequencing; emphasizing “political correctness” and discovering actual as well as alleged “micro aggressions” in speech and text also contributes to standardizing a very narrow canon of possible and thereby authorized statements or interpretations.
The research interest of the study group “Text and Textuality”, led by Prof. Andreas Kablitz (Chair for Romance Studies and Comparative Literature, University of Cologne), Prof. Christoph Markschies (Chair for Ancient Christianity, Humboldt-University of Berlin) and Prof. Peter Strohschneider (Chair for German Medieval Studies, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich), is directed toward the functioning and the functions of texts in the range of literary and media studies, of social sciences and history, of theology and legal studies. These practices and the methods deriving from them shall be described through close observation, compared and categorized. All the involved disciplines are to profit from the impulses of the scholarly discussions between the members who will be meeting twice a year.
The programmatic aim of the study group is to stabilize a research context of paradigmatic significance for the historical-hermeneutical sciences. It intends to perform a fundamental reflection for the humanities, which does the groundwork for stabilizing common identities, free of any imprudent harmonization of differences.
(Photo Credit: Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin – PK, http://resolver.staatsbibliothek-berlin.de/SBB0001EC3F00020000)