The DLA houses literature in its various material forms of production and presentation. Using approaches taken from material studies, these forms can be described and researched as independent (even auratic) objects; the special approach of the archive is to connect them simultaneously with the authors and the literary works to which they refer, so that both object and literature shed light on each other. In recent years, the DLA has increasingly focused its research on authors’ libraries. The library of the poet Karl Wolfskehl was virtually reconstructed during a project with the Marbach Weimar Wolfenbüttel Research Association; currently, the case study ‘Transatlantic Book Movement’ is dedicated to indexing and researching the library of Kurt Pinthus. Questions about the handling and trade of books as unique objects also lie in the focus of the project. Together with the Austrian Literature Archive in Vienna, the DLA is making Peter Handke’s notebooks available in digital form with a digital edition through the project ‘Peter Handke Notebooks. Digital Edition’, funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) and the German Research Foundation (DFG). The handwritten materiality of the daily ‘reportage’ of poetically relevant impressions of all kinds, which began in March 1976 and includes drawings, inserts, and collages, make the notebooks unique documents and indispensable sources for Handke research. In order to create conditions for further material-related research projects at the DLA and with external partners, we are engaging with other collecting institutions on questions of cataloguing and digitising large image and object collections. New cataloguing projects and virtual research spaces on specific object groups (e.g. writing instruments, book cover designs, and death masks) are planned. A number of cooperation constellations with the Excellence Cluster ‘Understanding Written Artefacts’ at the University of Hamburg have been in a test phase since last year.
In addition a new subdepartment in the DLA ›Literature in Public Space‹ has a particular focus on the ›auratisation‹ of literature, including its materiality. How does the ›aura‹ of literature become tangible, for example, in an exhibition? How is it (de-)constructed through curatorial selection, organisation, commenting, or composition? The subdepartment is planning publication projects with international literature museums on these questions, as well as a digital ›living handbook‹ on exhibiting literature.