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Professor Helmut Schmitz, Leverhulme Trust Fellowship

Love and Intimacy in Contemporary German Language & Literature

Professor Helmut Schmitz's Fellowship will be the first full-length study in English of contemporary literary representations of love and intimacy in contemporary German language and literature.

It will explore a set of case studies that are representative of diverse thematic concerns, ethnic, gender and sociocultural issues, and will take full account of contemporary literature’s frequent theoretical and meta-critical self-awareness.

A central thread linking these case studies will be the relationship between literary representations of intimacy and passion and issues of gender politics, frequently seen as incompatible with the cultural iconography of traditions of love. This will help close a research gap by addressing representations of intimacy in fiction that thematise non-heteronormative gender identities.

His study will review and critically assess current dominant theories from the fields of Social Theory and Psychoanalysis which all proceed from a perspective of lack, or compensation for the complexities of modernity.

In contrast, Professor Schmitz's Fellowship will engage with recent approaches which proceed from the potential for successful inter-subjective encounters, Hartmut Rosa's Resonance, and Francois Jullien's On Intimacy. Mapping both the literary field and matching up texts with specific theoretical approaches, the project will take full account of contemporary literature's meta-critical self-reflexiveness, as well as the diversity of gender and ethnic perspectives.

Professor Schmitz will review and critically assess current dominant theories from the fields of Social Theory and Psychoanalysis.

LOVE sculpture by Robert Indiana, on the corner of 6th Avenue and 55th Street in Manhattan, New York, (Photo credit: Hu Totya).

Using an interdisciplinary approach, Professor Helmut Schmitz will examine a series of literary texts under thematically headed sub-sections, setting these texts within the critical context suggested by the wider thematic concerns of the texts themselves.

Surveying the existing field of theoretical approaches to love and intimacy, his project starts from the literary texts’ ‘Eigengesetzlichkeit’ (internal aesthetic laws), extrapolating theoretical positions from within the texts, thus avoiding the subordination of literary expression to an external conceptual framework.