Reading traces have always been one of the key fields of interest at the DLA. They can be found in various places in the archive: in authors’ libraries, correspondence, and in museums, where visitors read the exhibits as well as look at them. We aim to look more closely at the traces of reading in our holdings by applying approaches borrowed from reader psychology and text comprehension research, which we are developing further in cooperation with the Leibniz Institute for Knowledge Media in Tübingen
As part of a project funded by the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Science, Research, and Art in 2021 and 2022, we developed a reading app which on the one hand is intended as a companion for visitors walking through our museums and on the other presents a canon of literary texts in German and enables us to analyse the reading data provided by users. The first analyses are currently being carried out – in this way we can determine, among other things, which texts are read particularly intensively and which are not.
In spring 2023, new themes will be introduced in this research area: From 27 to 29 April 2023, the conference ‘Maecenatean Poetics. Textual Procedures and Authorship Models in the Context of Literary Funding Practices’ will be dedicated to the strategies of authors’ works, asking how the pressures of patronage on the one hand and the claim to autonomous aesthetic literary production on the other are negotiated differently. The conference is a cooperation with the University of Basel, the University of Innsbruck, and the Philipps University of Marburg and is funded by the Fritz Thyssen Foundation.
This year we will continue to explore two topics that, in the second half of 2022, opened up new spaces of discourse around the political relevance of literature. In 2022, this was initiated with the conferences ‘Asylum for Archives’ and ‘Activism and Research: On the Theory, History and Actuality of a Provocation’. This year, the DLA will continue to develop this discourse with a second conference on the theme of ‘Activism’, while a series of events is planned in which authors with different asylum and exile backgrounds will be invited to discuss the challenges faced by politically persecuted authors who are granted asylum in Germany (and elsewhere).