DFG Research Training Group Globalization and Literature. Representations, Transformations,  Interventions

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Florian Kniffka

Florian Kniffka, M.A.

Creolization: Cultural Creativity as “opacité“ of Diagrammatical Structures

Dissertation Abstract

"Creolization" is a term used in several disciplines to describe cultural creativity, cultural change or the mixing of cultures. As Aisha Khan and Robert Baron indicate from different disciplinary perspectives, "creolization" is indeed "a floating signifier" (Khan) without fixed margins. Cultural Anthropology often takes it to designate cultural innovation in folklore studies or to describe the political strategies of local and political agents in postcolonial societies. Linguistics for its part investigates creole languages as products of language contact situations, historically epitomized by plantation societies in the Caribbean. Many of these approaches converge in the term "emergence:" "creolization" denotes the "emergence" of new cultural formations of signs. This juncture inspires the central intent of this dissertation, namely to re-describe "creolization" in cognitive-semiotic terms. Following Édouard Glissant’s notion of "creolization" and engaging with other writers from Martinique (Maryse Condé, Patrick Chamoiseau et al.), this project, unlike cultural anthropology, does not investigate "creolization" on material cultural ground. It rather locates "creolization" on the plane of (cultural) poetologies.

This focus raises questions pertaining to the specifically literary or poetic functions in human creativity beyond the concrete production of literature. The level of investigation, thus reached, can be termed "the imaginary." This dissertation refers to Umberto Eco’s mental encyclopedia as a model for this imaginary. Both Glissant’s notion of "creolization" and Eco’s encyclopedia intersect in the concept of the rhizome developed by Deleuze and Guattari. Referring back to the definition of "creolization" as cultural creativity and the closely connected concept of "emergence," this dissertation regards "creolization" as a creative process that unfolds within Eco’s mental encyclopedia, leading to the emergence of new encyclopedic entries.

Short CV

Since 2017 PhD Candidate at the Research Training Group

2016-2017: teacher for German as Foreign Language at “Zentrum für Deutsche Sprache und Kultur e.V.” in              Frankfurt am Main

2013-2014: long term internship at the literary promotion society Litprom e.V., cooperating with Frankfurt Book Fair
training programm “Buch- und Medienpraxis” at Goethe-University Frankfurt am Main

2013: M.A. in Comparative Literature and Philosophy at Goethe-University Frankfurt am Main