The changing roles of literature in a global context
The research group Modern and Contemporary Literature offers a unique combination of expertise with respect to literature written in the modern and contemporary period. We study the changing forms and functions of literature from the perspective of its interactions with other cultural practices in a changing media landscape. Our approach is transnational and comparative, with a concern both for literatures written in European languages and world literature in translation.
Our research provides a detailed account of how changes in literary forms have related to the exploration of new themes and to changes in society; identifies the stories which we live by in an increasingly globalised and mediatised world; explains how those stories come into being and why some, but not all of them of them move across the borders of media, languages and generations; and establishes their impact on personal and social identities.
Research focus areas
What role does literature play along with other media in the production of shared narratives about the diversity of our collective past and future? How does the production of cultural memory relate to shifting ideas about citizenship and historical justice? What ideas of utopia and dystopia can we find in literary texts? How are (post)national subjectivities articulated in literature? What is the continued importance of literature as a site of public speaking and listening in a diverse media ecology? By addressing such research questions, our work contributes to the focus area Gender and Diversity Hub and strategic theme Institutions for Open Societies.
What literature can teach us about institutions
We provide qualitative and historically informed accounts of how non-institutionalised forms of ‘common knowledge’ are culturally produced. Stories inform current practices of citizenship, ideas of democracy, and the empathy and patterns of identification that are necessary for trust. We also provide insight into the specific role of cultural institutions in the preservation, canonisation, and dissemination of literature and the other arts.