Research Profile of the Research Training Group

Central to the Research Training Group "Literature and Dissemination of Literature in the Digital Age" is a topic area which is both highly topical and culturally relevant. The 'digital revolution' has lead to considerable upheaval in our culture, and this process is certainly far from over. It concerns literature and the literary market place in all areas. Digital media don't simply absorb other media. Instead they change the self-conception and practices of all those media which continue to co-exist beside them. Above all they change the self-conception and practice of literature which has until now been primarily understood and run as a printed medium. In the training group, the exciting relationship between new media and the production, dissemination and reception of literature will be researched. The projects are particularly concerned with the thematic, aesthetic and economic changes in the course of digitisation which have affected both literary texts and the actors and institutions of the literary market place from the 1980s to present day.

With the term 'digitisation' two processes of differing scope are meant: in the narrower sense, the term refers to the process of changing analogue media formats into digital ones. In the broader sense, it summarises the manifold processes of the distribution of digital formats in contemporary culture and in this broader sense 'digitisation' serves as the central concept of the RTG. The 'age of digitisation' shapes the period of investigation of the dissertation project from a literary historical perspective. Texts should be researched, as should actors and institutions of the literary industry from the 1980s to present day, so a period in which digital data formats have played an increasingly dominant role. In addition, 'digitisation' is a topic area to which a large part of the dissertations will be dedicated. In this sense it concerns researching the influences of new media formats and digital means of communication on literature and disseminating literature over the last 30 years and in doing so raising questions about the consequences for literary theory and method.

The term "dissemination of literature" plays an equally important role in the RTG, in a similarly narrow sense, referred to in the title. In the narrow sense, it includes all the instances which make the literary works accessible to readers, for instance, publishing houses with their various groups of actors, book shops, libraries and archives. In a broader definition the instances where literature is used are also valid in as far as they produce a disseminatory effect, for example theatre and museums, literary criticism, literary studies. Since the RTG works together closely with the disciplines of American Studies, English Studies, German Studies, Comparative Literature, Romance Studies and Scandinavian Studies, there is a framework to research, aside from literature itself; production sites, the politics of publishing, operations, manufacture and marketing comparatively across many countries. In order to work on these areas in a substantiated way, the RTG furthermore has been able, together with associated academics, to gain legal and academic subject competencies and by virtue of the guest academic program, further media science competencies.

Methodically the RTG is positioned at the point of intersection of philological research, literature sociology and media science as well as text and research into reception. The projects will combine historical, hermeneutical and quantitative as well as qualitative empirical procedures according to their topics. It combines projects in which texts are analysed and interpreted or are evaluated analytically according to their content, those which work with interviews, carry out statistical inquiries, or work on more extensive text corpuses with the methods of the digital humanities.
The broad and particularly dynamic field of research can be divided into three fields of research, production / authorship, dissemination and reception. In each of these fields a wealth of worthwhile lines of inquiry are opened up, and of particular interest to the RTG are the perspectives which connect and cross field boundaries.