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Current research project

Title / Titel Facing Poetry. A. G. Baumgarten’s Theory of Literature
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Summary / Zusammenfassung Alexander Gottlieb Baumgarten (1714–1762), professor of philosophy at the Viadrina in Frankfurt an der Oder from 1742 until his early death, did not only, as is commonly held, newly establish the discourse of aesthetics in the middle of the eighteenth century but also presented the first literary theory. This book corrects intellectual history by showing that the science of sensate cognition is a science of literature. Since Baumgarten was the first person to discover the relevance of literature for philosophy. Baumgarten treats literature not as belles lettres or as a moral institution but rather as an epistemic object. That is the thesis I will pursue. Although Baumgarten was a philosopher, he could only tackle and master his philosophical project because he appeared from the beginning as a literary critic avant la lettre. Due to an "on-the-job-accident", he was making literature capable of giving philosophical satisfaction in modernity. He thus formatively influenced a thinking about literature that would first develop in the coming centuries, when Friedrich Schlegel became the first person to explicitly and programmatically name his own poetics a literary theory mobilizing the concept of theory against the poetological tradition. However, modern theory never again form such a complex system as it already had in Baumgarten.
Project leadership and contacts /
Projektleitung und Kontakte
Prof. Dr. Frauke Berndt (Project Leader)
Dr. Anthony Mahler
Funding source(s) /
Unterstützt durch
Duration of Project / Projektdauer Jan 2018 to Jul 2019