Materia narrata - Materia narrandi. Mediality, materiality and dynamics of 'great' narratives.

Narratives are fundamental constituents of social identities: within communities, they create traditions for a stabilizing effect, while in transformative cultural contexts they act as media of socio-cultural change, sometimes even as catalyst of these processes. Since the mediality of narratives is only generated through their active passing on or the associated perception contexts, the performative settings, including their actors, must always be taken into account for an understanding of the meaning of narratives. Performances of passing on offer the potential of reinterpreting traditional narratives, so that new narratives can trigger not only changes but also the new or reinterpretation of traditional content and forms of passing on. Not only human beings as actors, but also material objects that carry material information pass on narratives. Materials and forms not only “frame” these narrative settings, but shape them through their specific properties in the sense of media potentials and limitations: These translation services thus represent an essential research potential when it comes to the question of how narratives are (can be) passed on intermedially and how materiality, but also the media setting of the information carrier, influenced the latter.

The aim of the central topic therefore is to explore the interaction between narrative, chosen medium (text, image, music, etc.) of the material information carrier and its performative embedding/translation. The integrative effect of narratives shall be examined with research work concentrating on references to existing narratives, persons or ritualized actions and the objects related to them.

The methodological approaches are diachronic as long-term effects of change between narratives and media settings shall be investigated to live up to the long duration. They are intermedial because the formal and content-related consequences of media changes for narratives represent an important topic, and they are interdisciplinary because only cross-source and cross-disciplinary approaches to the variety of narrative traditions and hence the complexity of the topic allow for an adequate exploration.

The following questions are in the focus of the topic:

  • What is the relationship between media settings, actors and the selection of objects in a concrete narrative passing on?
  • How do changes in media (genres) and material information carriers affect the narrative? (keywords: translation, materiality and mediality)
  • What interactions can be observed between the various media, information carriers and their performative embedding, in which directions do the influences go? (keyword: intermediality)
  • What role do material objects play in the narratives?

Following subtopics are explored:

  • Important religious texts as narratives (Christianity, Judaism, possibly also Islam)
  • Ancient Narratives
  • Urbanity as a narrative