Fakultäten » Philosophische Fakultät » Deutsches Seminar » Neuere Literatur » Prof. Dr. Wolfram Groddeck (emeritiert) » Schmid

Completed research project

Title / Titel Autopoiesis on Trial: Kafka, Kleist & Luhmann
PDF Abstract (PDF, 14 KB)
Original title / Originaltitel Versuch über Autopoiesis: Kleist, Kafka & Luhmann
Summary / Zusammenfassung Texts speak about various themes and one of these themes could refer to the text itself. In the field of the (German) literary studies, autopoiesis usually indicates that many texts proceed in speaking about their constitution as a theme. In other words: they perform what they say. My dissertation attempts to rethink literary texts as never-ending procedures (“Verfahren”), in which autopoiesis marks the self-generating moment. This pivotal moment in turn leads to the never-ending state of the procedure. To analyze this moment, I work with two exemplary texts and I also provide a short history of the term.
I begin with Heinrich von Kleist’s On The Gradual Construction Of Thoughts During Speech, which answers the basic question of how the model of a procedural literature works.
Next, I analyze Franz Kafkas The Trial. I discuss how the writing, as a part of The Trial, leads to the interminability of the trial and I demonstrate how the self-referential binding character (“Rechtsgeltung”) is at stake in the narrative structure.
Finally, I focus on the “invention” of the term in science by Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela, and I trace its history from the mid 20th century to its contemporary use in literary theory.
My project shows that he history of autopoiesis repeats its own procedure. We see a term that seems to assert and reassert itself in fields from biology to cybernetics, from sociology to literary studies. Its own history reveals autopoiesis as a never-ending auto-poesis.
Project leadership and contacts /
Projektleitung und Kontakte
Dr. des. Marcel Schmid (Project Leader)
Funding source(s) /
Unterstützt durch
Duration of Project / Projektdauer Jul 2013 to Jul 2015