(Auto-)Biographical Practices Digital Humanities Literature

Weaving Lives

My PhD thesis focused on (auto-)biographical strategies of Russian writers on the internet and was published in 2020 as an Open Access monograph: Weaving Lives: (Auto-)Biographical Practices of Russian Authors on the Internet (in German, Bielefeld: Transcript).

The internet as a bona fide medium of self-expression is used by countless Russian authors. They borrow author images from the canon of Russian literature, adjust them to match the communicative structure of the internet and reinvent them in media experiments.

How can we identify these creative mechanisms operating beneath the surface of Web 2.0? How can we bring them together with literary theory? In my book I combine qualitative and quantitative approaches not only to answer these questions but to uncover (auto-)biographical practices in the Russian-language internet (Runet).

For my thesis I received the Gustav Figdor award for literary science by the Austrian Academy of Sciences (2018), the thesis award of the University of Passau (2018) and the DARIAH-DE Digital Humanities Award (2018).

You can browse the publisher’s page to order a physical copy or read the Open Access version right here:

Literature Positivism

Intention & Reception: Re-Reading Polish Positivism

I am writing a postdoctoral thesis about Polish positivist literature where I investigate the relationship between literature and politics in 19th century Poland. The so-called “powieść tendencyjna”, or tendentious novel, is not imaginable without an author’s intention. This category, however, was rightfully problematized by poststructural theory.

My goal is to bring back ‘intention’ as a category for literature theory; in order to achieve that goal, I investigate four different ‘positions of intention’: author, text, reception, and imagination. First of all, the positivist authors had a clear goal in mind, as is demonstrated by their poetological texts: They strove to educate the people. This original intention cannot be overlooked. Second, the text employs various literary devices to achieve a specific impact on the reader’s side. Third, the reader has intentions as well, which fundamentally shape the reception process. Fourth, the audience often imagines the author’s alleged intentions. These imaginary intentions often prove to be impactful as well.

By means of bringing together Eliza Orzeszkowa’s, Bolesław Prus’ and Henryk Sienkiewicz’s novels and poetological texts with the reception of contemporaries and later generations, I try to uncover how these ‘positions of intention’ work.