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UVa Center for International Studies Global Activities Grant Request Form

Please provide the following information when requesting funds from the CIS for global activities that are relevant to UVa's global mission:

1. Your name, title, department or unit, and contact information:

Volker Kaiser
Assoc Professor & Chair of Germanic Languages & Literatures
Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures
College of Arts and Sciences

2. The type of grant you are applying for:

University research initiatives or research groups.

3. A detailed description of this project/activity including the
purpose, participants, location, dates and other relevant

Title of the conference:
Examples and Cases: The Scientific Paradigm in Literature and Media from 1750 to 1900

Projected schedule: April 25-27, 2013; Place: UVa grounds

Participating disciplines:
Art History and Art Criticism; Literary History and Literary Criticism (English, French, German, Comparative Literature); Media Studies; Cultural Studies; Gender Studies; Philosophy (Aesthetic Theory); Psychology and Psychoanalysis.

Participants come mainly from the following institutions:
Ruhr Universität Bochum (Departments: Germanistik; Communications and Media Studies (Medienwissenschaften); Cultural Studies and Gender Studies); Technische Universität Dortmund (Philosophy and Aesthetics; Germanistik); Cornell University (Members from the German and Comparative Literature Departments) ; UVa (CGS and German Department; French Department; Comparative Literature Program).

Number of participants: 22 (10 from Germany, 12 from the US; list of names is attached in the back; cf. last page of the document)
Structure of conference: 7 panels with 3 panelists each; panels will be moderated by PhD candidates from UVa departments; 1 keynote lecture.

Host of conference: Center for German Studies at UVa

Project description:

Our conference seeks to explore the uses and roles of examples in the emergence and re-generation of the humanities in the European and German contexts between 1750 and 1900. From the start of the Western philosophical and scientific tradition, examples have either been given a paradigmatic status, and hence they have been elevated into a cognitive principle (cf. Plato), or they have played a more pragmatic, rhetorical function in scientific discourse (cf. Aristotle). Departing from the pragmatic model, holding the thesis that examples should be understood as an active force that constitutes knowledge and not as an already constituted principle of knowledge or even as an illustration of such knowledge, the participants of the conference want to demonstrate how this pragmatic, rhetorical function of examples asserts itself in the realm of narratives which emerge in the period between 1750 and 1900. These literary, theoretical and scientific narratives are spun around a particular example or case, which then, in conjunction with the narrative structure in which it is embedded, gives rise to the formation of a new scientific discourse. So these narratives spun around a particular case become themselves exemplary, because they demonstrate in an exemplary fashion the pragmatic, rhetorical and constitutive roles of examples within and for the emergence of new types of scientific discourse and inquiry. To give you one example, I would like to mention Gotthold E. Lessing's famous essay – or better; narrative – on the statue of Laocoon, a text that transformed the disciplines of art criticism, literary criticism, semiotics and aesthetics in the second half of the 18th century. It was able to transform this scientific field by unfolding the constitutive power of the example on which the treatise was based, and Lessing placed his trust in the example when he wrote: "Although my reasoning may not be so compelling as Baumgarten's, my examples will at least smack more of the source."

It is this knowledge about the originating force of examples and exemplary cases which motivate the participants of this conference to investigate the configuration of the cognitive, poetic and narrative dimension of examples and exemplary cases. The beauty of this analytical perspective is that is allows us to show an intimate connection between the reflections in philosophy, aesthetics, art and literary criticism and the emergence of those empirical sciences like psychology, medicine and the law, since they also are spun around certain cases or case stories. In short, the configuration surrounding examples, its narratological, epistemological and poetological functions, establishes an intimacy between the "basic" sciences and the empirical sciences of man, as they emerge and reemerge from these reflections. This is then also reflected in the prominence which is given to the notions of author- and readership in the hermeneutic sciences and the disciplines of art criticism and literary criticism on the one hand, and the prominent role of so called "case stories", individual cases or "Fallgeschichten", which become the center of empirical sciences like psychology, medicine and the law. They all deal with peculiar and specific cases, often cases which signal modes of deviant behavior that provoke the emergence of their empirical studies in the sciences of man. Needless to say that the fundamental categories of aesthetic reflection and art criticism like imagination, genius and innovative language are used to describe these states of deviant behavior, which may be read as another index of the intimacy that exists between aesthetic theory and the sciences of man, as they re- and transform themselves in the 18th and 19th centuries. If 1750 marks the emergence of the first programs of an empirical psychology, 1900 marks the publication of Freud's "Interpretation of Dreams", a case in which the auto-bio-graphical, the analytical reflection and the emergence of a new scientific model based on examples and "case stories" become indistinguishable. Consequently, it makes sense that the conference ends its reflections upon the uses and roles of examples with this model that paves a new way into the 20th century.

A note on the institutional logic of the conference:

Our conference is part of a larger research project which is supported by research groups in Germany led by Prof. Manfred Schneider (Ruhr Universität Bochum; in short RUB) and Prof. Michael Niehaus (Technische Univeristät Dortmund). Both scholars have organized two symposia at the RUB in the summer of 2010 (Topic: The Discursive Analysis of Examples) and in the summer of 2011 (Topic: Case Stories). The German Department at UVa already maintains close relationships to both of these academic institutions in the form of established exchange programs on the graduate student level. Prof. Schneider also spent one semester at UVa as the Max Kade Distinguished Visiting Professor in 2005. We regard these three conferences as a keystone for an application to the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, which offers 5 year stipends for transatlantic research projects in the amount of EUR 250,000. We would like to submit a joint application to the AHF, drawing on the accomplishments of the past research. If these plans can be realized, we would like to make the CGS the host of this research group, which will be open to participants from other departments and institutions as well. A major goal is the enhancement of faculty-graduate student interaction and the promotion of international cooperation.

List of participants and their institutional affiliations:

Colleagues from Germany:

  • Manfred Schneider, Germanistik and Media Studies, Ruhr Universität Bochum (RUB); Research Project: The Discursive Analysis of Examples
  • Peter Risthaus, Germanistik and Media Studies, RUB; Research Project: The Discursive Analysis of Examples
  • Nicolas Pethes, Neue Germanistik, RUB; Research Project: Archives of the Fall: Case Stories in Journals of the 18th and 19th Century
  • Susanne Duewell, Neue Germanistik, RUB; Research Project: Archives of the Fall: Case Stories in Journals of the 18th and 19th Century
  • Natalie Binczek, Neue Germanistik, RUB: Research Project: Case Stories: Exemplary Narratives in Modern Cultures
  • Michael Niehaus, Germanistik, TU Dortmund; Research Project: Archive of the Example: Exemplary Presentations in the Aesthetic Discourse between 1750 and 1850.
  • Christian Lück, Germanistik, TU Dortmund, Research Project: Archive of the Example
  • Wim Peeters, Germanistik, TU Dortmund
  • Jessica Güsken (M.A.), Germanistik, RUB
  • Lars Bullmann (M.A.), Germanistik, LMU München

Colleagues from UVa:

  • John D. Lyons, French Department, UVa; Author of: Exemplum. The Rhetoric of Example in Modern France and Italy.
  • Chad Wellmon, German Department, UVa
  • Jeff Grossman, German Department, UVa
  • Ben Bennett, German Department, UVa
  • Renate Voris, German Department, UVa
  • Volker Kaiser, German Department, UVa

Scholars from US-Institutions:

  • Henry Sussman, German and Comparative Literature, Yale University
  • Rüdiger Campe, German Department, Yale University
  • Kirk Wetters, German Department, Yale University
  • Cathy Caruth, English and Comparative Literature, Cornell University
  • Peter Gilgen, German Department, Cornell University
  • Paul Fleming, German Department, Cornell University

4. A brief statement on how the project contributes to UVa
Center for International Studies' mission, and/or how it has
the potential to deepen global learning:

See above

5. An itemized overall budget and amount requested from CIS:


6. Sources of co-funding (pending and/or received):