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NCCR Mediality

Die Nationalen Forschungsschwerpunkte (NFS) sind ein Förderungsmittel des Schweizerischen Nationalfonds.
SR. Senior Researchers
SR.1. Mediality of the uncanny: Doppelganger, shadows and ghosts in modern literature

1. The project sets out to investigate different phenomenons of mediality, focusing on Mediality of the uncanny: Doppelganger, shadows and ghosts in modern literature. Here, the term mediality relates to Erhard Schüttpelz’ ’Grenzobjekte’. These ’threshold figures’, occurring in texts from the middle of the eighteenth century, shift between esoteric and scientific, magical and secular, and technical and aesthetic discourses. Significant in this period, as theology in its traditional mediating role recedes and the philosophical phantom of Kant’s ’thing in itself’ demands perpetual medial ascertainment and intensification, is an increasing reflection on the agency of the abovementioned discourses. The project aspires to contribute to the archaeology (a) of the modern Imaginary, (b) of media reflection before the advent of the media preoccupations of the present day and (c) of those innovative efforts typically associated with modern media. Kant’s Dreams of a spirit-seer, Schiller’s The ghost-seer, Kleist’s The beggar woman of Locarno, E.T.A Hoffmann’s The empty house, Guy de Maupassant’s Le Horla, Robert L. Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Ewer’s/Ryes’ The student of Prague (the silent movie), and H.P. Lovecraft’s The Whisperer in the Darkness are central to the investigation.
2. Further medial aspects are studied in the following topics: (a) From Cipolla to Hitler: Hypnosis, mediality and dictatorship in the early twentieth century (texts: Ernst Weiß, The eyewitness; Thomas Mann, Mario and the Magician; Hermann Broch, The Enchantment). (b) Mediality in the works of Kleist (e.g. The Kaethchen of Heilbronn, God’s Stylus, St. Cecilia, or the power of music) and (c) Theory of Media – prior to theory of media as we know it: Theoretical/philosophical texts of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, such as Friedrich Nietzsche’s On Truth and Lies in a Non-moral Sense will be analyzed in a historical medial perspective.

PD Dr. Ulrich Johannes Beil, Senior Researcher