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

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Philipp Stelzer

Die Konstruktion/Genese der Welt: Ursprungs- und Anfangserzählungen als Globalisierungsentwürfe

Dissertation Abstract

This project claims that ancient texts are relevant for the literary approach to processes of globalization. I argue that ancient narrations of beginning and origin already bear both a certain knowledge and a distinct imagination of the world as a whole, well before the earthly body had been explored in all its extensions and dimensions.
The notions of kosmos and mundus (to name two variations of 'world') in origin stories challenge not only possible translations, but even the possibility of their translation itself, which is also called into question by the Dictionary of Untranslatables. Narrations of beginning entangle both complex time structures and imaginations of the world (as well as 'Weltbilder'), and therefore reflect on processes of globalization in reading them as an "archive of global images, narratives, and myths" (Cosgrove).
The study's point of departure is an engagement with different texts which narrate the beginning in form of a creation of the world, like the book of Genesis with its doubled inception – the first and the second creation account –, Hesiods Theogony, Lucretius' De rerum natura or Ovids Metamorphoses, which is an exemplary case for the close relation that can be established between the narrated creation of the world and the political context of its time. In upraising transformation to a paradigm, the cosmogony of the Metamorphoses on the one hand legitimates Augustus as the leader of the Roman Empire, on the other hand establishes a beginning, which is decidedly not (yet) located in the genealogy of the Empire. The question of the congruence – or incongruence – of the Roman Empire and the world is what is at stake here.

Short CV

Since 2016 PhD Candidate at the Research Training Group

2014-2016: Research Student at the Research Training Group

2016: M.A. Comparative Literature, LMU Munich

2014: B.A. Comparative Literature and Philosophy, LMU Munich