Prof. Dr. Dirk Niefanger

Department of German and Comparative Studies
Chair of New German Literature (systematic approach)


Dirk Niefanger, who grew up in Cologne, studied German literature, philosophy, sociology and political science in Tübingen and Vienna. He taught at universities in Göttingen, Berlin and Braunschweig before taking up the chair of ‘Modern German Literature with a Systematic Focus’ in Erlangen. He is currently an elected member of the DFG Review Board for Literary and Cultural Studies. Although his research interests are wide-ranging, they are methodologically related through the cultural-historical understanding of literature. They lie in the early modern period (Baroque, drama/theater, literary positioning), modernism (Viennese modernism, interwar period) and contemporary culture. Aspects of the Graduiertenkolleg, such as authorship and authorial staging (e.g. in the DFG project ‘Posierende Poeten’), work politics (e.g. with Monika Maron), the relationship between sociography and literature (e.g. in a DVjs essay on Kracauer), war, social distinction and the forms and functions of reality references, autofictions and biographemes, repeatedly occupy him. He is particularly interested in German Pop Literature (for example in the Brinkmann Handbook), including its regional manifestations (Ruhrpop). In June 2023, Wallstein published his latest book: ‘Lessing divers. Soziale Milieus, Genderformationen, Ethnien und Religionen’.


Publications on the research field of the Research Training Group in recent years:


  • Auf Bäckertüten und Koffergurten. Literatur als regionales Lifestyle-Produkt im öffentlichen Raum, in: Literatur im öffentlichen Raum, Sonderband Text+Kritik, hg. v. Doren Wohlleben, München 2023, S. 63–74.
  • Hanns-Josef Ortheils Erfindung seines Lebens. Autofiktion – Werkpolitik – Öffentlichkeitspräsenz, in: Studi Germanici (Roma) 21 (2022), S. 99–118.
  • Rolf Dieter Brinkmann Handbuch, hg. v. Markus Fauser, Dirk Niefanger und Sibylle Schönborn, Stuttgart: Metzler 2020.
  • Erzählen als Zumutung. Ein Unding der Liebe (1981) von Ludwig Fels, in: Christine Lubkoll, Manuel Illi, Anna Hampel (Hg.): Politische Literatur. Begriffe, Debatten, Aktualität, Stuttgart: Metzler 2019, S. 385–400.
  • 1968 und die deutsche Literatur. In: Helmut Neuhaus (Hg.): Die 68er plus 50 Jahre. Atzelsberger Gespräche 2018. Erlangen: FAU Press 2019, 41–61.
  • Realitätsreferenzen im Gegenwartsroman. Überlegungen zu ihrer Systematisierung, in: Birgitta Krumrey, Ingo Vogler, Katharina Derlin (Hg.): Realitätseffekte in der deutschsprachigen Gegenwartsliteratur. Schreibweisen nach der Postmoderne?, Heidelberg: Winter 2014, S. 35–62.


Prof. Dr. Antje Kley

Department of English and American Studies
Chair of American Studies: Literature (Prof. Dr. Kley)


Antje Kley holds the Chair of American Studies, especially Literary Studies. After her Master’s in Women’s Studies at Emory University in Atlanta and her state examination at the University of Mannheim, she worked on her dissertation on multi-ethnic forms of literary life writing in the USA in the late 20th century. Already in this context, she was interested in the intertwining of political and poetic dimensions of literary texts. At Kiel University, she researched the media history of the British and US American novel as part of her habilitation project and deepened her interest in the ethical reflective performances of literary textuality. Her research on cultural hybridity, recognition and literary knowledge production revolves around questions of socio-cultural difference and focuses on the function of literature for describing ‘things of concern’ (Bruno Latour). Not least, her six-year tenure as vice-president at FAU has made her realise that the humanities need to do a better job of explaining the relevance of their findings in order to assert their role in central academic debates. Antje Kley is currently working on a monograph on current US end-of-life narratives as an important form of alternative knowledge production to culturally dominant medical, nursing and insurance discourses around death. She lives with her dog Parker in Nuremberg and in the Rhön.


Publications on the topic of literature and the public sphere from recent years:


  • “‘No one dies a natural death.’ Lebendige Geister und die Politik der Toten in George Saunders Roman Lincoln im Bardo (2017).” Die Politik der Toten: Figuren und Funktionen der Toten in Literatur und Politischer Theorie. Ed. Marcus Llanque and Katja Sarkowsky. Bielefeld: transcript, 2023. 121-142.
  • “Vulnerability and masculinist notions of control in late capitalist societies. Reading Paul Kalanithi’s autopathography When Breath Becomes Air (2016).” Kulturwissenschaftliche Zeitschrift2 (2022): 49-69.
  • “US Print Culture, Literary Narrative, and Slow Reading in the Age of Big Data: Steve Tomasula’s VAS – An Opera in Flatland.” Medium, Object, Metaphor: The Printed Book in Contemporary American Culture. Heike Schaefer und Alexander Starre. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019. 53-67.
  • “Public Humanities and Literary Knowledge: Four Theses on How Reading Matters for Public Debate.” American Counter/Publics. Ulla Haselstein, Frank Kelleter, Alexander Starre, Birte Wege. Heidelberg, 2019. 397-408.
  • “What Literature Knows: An Introduction.” What Literature Knows: Forays into Literary Knowledge Production. Antje Kley und Kai Merten. Frankfurt/M.: Peter Lang, 2018. 9-25.
  • “Literary Knowledge Production and the Natural Sciences in the US.” Knowledge Landscapes North America. Simone Knewitz, Christian Klöckner, Sabine Sielke. Heidelberg: Winter, 2016. 153-177.

Prof. Dr. Aida Bosch

Department of Social Sciences and Philosophy
Chair of Sociology



Aida Bosch is a sociologist of culture at the Institute of Sociology at FAU. She has been researching for many years on questions of sociological aesthetics, the sociology of art, body and body phenomenology, image theory and hermeneutics, material culture, the sociology of knowledge and organisational sociology. Within the framework of the Research Training Group “Literature and the Public Sphere”, she firstly contributes impulses in the field of intermedial comparisons. She understands literature as a diverse formal-aesthetic objectification of human experience and imagination in the medium of language. Secondly, she explores the question of whether literature can be understood as a seismograph of the respective present, since it observes society (similar to sociology, but with different means) and processes these observations artistically – and, moreover, can also act as an influencing and shaping force of contemporary society through its own respective formal language and perspectivity.


Prof. Dr. Sabine Friedrich

Chair of Romance Studies: Literature and Culture (Frankoromanistik, Hispanistik)
Institute of Romance Studies



The relationship between literatures and different publics has occupied me for several years with different research foci. On the one hand, I analyse new narrative formats that are becoming increasingly widespread in contemporary literature under the influence of media change and that are at the same time accompanied by changed conditions of reception. In the inter- or transmedial story worlds, the conventions of fictional communication are often broken and great demands are made on the media competence of the audience. The shift of narratives into digital formats results in fundamental changes with regard to the possibilities of participation. Fictional characters communicate with each other on social media accounts, but also with the user.

On the other hand, I am concerned with contemporary formats of docufiction, which are very present in the current mediation of history. Especially in view of their immense popularity, the question arises as to what possibilities cinematic and textual docufiction can or may assume within the framework of historiography. On the one hand, it is possible to generate greater emotional involvement and thus greater interest in historiographical topics through the design of fictional diegesis; on the other hand, docufiction raises the question of manipulability, historiographical honesty and ethical responsibility in a novel way. Finally, I examine the emergence and impact of scandals in contemporary culture. I am particularly interested in the interactions between virulent social discussions and the provocation potential generated in the context of artistic treatments of these discussions.



PD Dr. Annette Gilbert

Department of German and Comparative Studies
Chair of New German Literature (systematic approach)


Annette Gilbert studied General and Comparative Literature, Eastern European Studies and Journalism in Berlin, Paris and Kazan’ (Russia) and, after university stations in Siberia, Moscow, Göttingen, Berlin, Boulder/Colorado and Mainz, is now Academic Director at the Department of German and Comparative Literature in Erlangen.

As a literary scholar, she is particularly interested in the mediality and materiality of literature and phenomena on the border between art and literature. The focus is on the avant-garde and experimental literature and art of Europe and America. Even if these artistic experimental arrangements tend to move in the marginal areas of literary practice – some even outside of it – they can be read as a substantial contribution to basic literary research, since they bring to light the subliminal preconditions, but also the neuralgic points and contradictory aspects of how we deal with literature. In this way, they contribute to the discussion of fundamental questions of literary theory, such as authorship, the concept of the work, the understanding of literature, original and copy.

In addition, she has been working for years on the historical changes in cultural techniques as well as publication and distribution practices. Questions of the public sphere, publishing, circulation, censorship, subversion, underground, samizdat and copyright play a role here, which are also of central interest to the Research Training Group. She is currently preparing an exhibition on artistic print-on-demand projects for the German Type and Book Museum of the DNB Leipzig, as well as research projects on the knowledge of digital literature and the indexing of a pirated print collection unique in its holdings, which has lost none of its relevance against the background of contemporary digital shadow libraries – which also enjoy great popularity in academic circles.


Publications on the topic of literature and the public sphere from recent years:

  • Library of Artistic Print on Demand. Post-Digital Publishing in Times of Platform Capitalism, zs. mit Andreas Bülhoff, Leipzig: Spector Books 2023.
  • Literature’s Elsewheres. The Necessity of Radical Literary Practices, Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press 2022.
  • Digitale Literatur II, zs. mit Hannes Bajohr, München: Text + Kritik. Sonderband, München: edition text+kritik im Richard Boorberg Verlag 2021.
  • Die Zukünfte des Werks. Kleiner Abriss der Gegenwartsliteratur mit Blick auf die Werkdebatte von Morgen. In: Gilbert, Annette/Spoerhase, Carlos/Danneberg, Lutz (Hgg.): Das Werk: Verschwinden und Fortwirken eines Grundbegriffs, Berlin/Boston: de Gruyter 2019, 495–555.
  • Unter dem Underground- und Selbstpublikationen 1965–75, zs. mit Jan-Frederik Bandel und Tania Prill, Leipzig: Spector Books 2017.
  • Publishing as Artistic Practice, Berlin: Sternberg Press 2016.

PD Dr. Karin Hoepker

Department of English and American Studies
Chair of American Studies: Literature (Prof. Dr. Kley)


Karin Hoepker is currently Guest Professor of American Literature at the John-F.-Kennedy Institute, Freie Universität Berlin (Lehrstuhl ehem. Ulla Haselstein). Her work focuses on literary knowledge production and the  function of fiction across media. She is specifically interested in the intersections of literature and the sciences, in aesthetics and practices of spatial production, and in the emerging semantics of risk in the nineteenth century.

Prof. Dr. Svenja Hagenhoff

Department Speaker
Institute of Book Science



Svenja Hagenhoff works on questions about the literature business as a system and the nature of writing and reading media as artefacts.

Literature is usually (first) written down and then received by reading. Written and reading media are therefore central carriers of literature. Their external forms are not sacrosanct and they are not ‘typical’, but depend on time, place, function, culture and technology. As man-made objects of use and reception, written and reading media can be shaped; they are always more or less suitable for use in specific situations and for specific tasks.

Literature only has an effect on the public if it is circulated. This requires resources and processes based on the division of labour, which are permanently coordinated and organised. These organised social actions are in turn influenced by various institutions that promote and privilege literary communication, prevent it or steer it in certain directions.



Prof. Dr. Christian Schicha

Professor of Media Ethics
Institute of Theater and Media Studies



The production of publicity about socially relevant issues in liberal democracies of the type of the Federal Republic of Germany as a political demand is one of the central tasks of the media. The public sphere is interpreted as a communication system in which information and opinions are articulated and exchanged. Above all, open access to information without blockades is central. The creation of the public sphere in the understanding of a control and criticism function serves to provide transparency about socially relevant developments, informs about the goals of communities of interest and is protected by the Basic Law through the freedom of opinion, speech, assembly, art and press.

Literature is a consumer and artistic good. It is written, published, bought, collected, read and depends on mediation.  Insofar as literature is interpreted as a fictional art form that primarily fulfils an entertainment function, it has a less relevant public function than literature that is controversial and generates public follow-up discourse. When texts cause offence, there are calls for bans. Books were and are burned, censored and indexed. Violent and sexual depictions are criticised, as are controversial political statements. Discourses on cultural appropriation are also relevant. In such cases, controversial literary works are not published or readings are prevented. From a media ethics perspective, the focus on literary works that have triggered controversial debates and scandals as well as demands for bans or censorship is particularly relevant.