DFG-Netzwerk "Diachronic Metalepsis"

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Contact: Thomas Kuhn-Treichel, Martin Sebastian Hammer

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MetalepsisNet

Upcoming events: Workshop Narrators and Narratees intervening in the Diegetic World, Heidelberg, Oct. 21-22, 2022.

Over the past two decades, metalepses (transgressions of narrative levels) have experienced a critical boom in different disciplines of literary studies, both modern and premodern. What makes this topic so attractive is the fact that metaleptic phenomena permit us to discuss key concepts of narrating. What exactly does ‘narrating’ mean and how does a narrator act? On which levels does narrating take place and how are these levels connected? How does the storyworld relate to reality? By transgressing real or imagined boundaries, metalepses shed light on a central objective of narrative texts: to bridge the border between the narrated and the narrating world. In this way, metalepses emerge as inherently (at least implicitly) metanarrative devices.

Scholarship has drawn a contrast between predominantly illusion-disturbing metalepses in modern literatures and predominantly illusion-compatible metalepses in ancient and medieval literatures. Phenomena that appear comparable from a formal point of view can evidently have different functions in different texts and periods. Scholars have therefore expressed the need of a diachronic and/or interdisciplinary approach especially for the study of metalepses. On the other hand, it begins to emerge that the breadth of the concept, the fluidity characterizing the phenomenon, and the detailed work required by each usage make it hardly possible to write a meaningful and comprehensive ‘history of metalepsis’. In response to this double challenge, we have launched the network ‘Diachronic Metalepsis’, in which literary scholars from different disciplines cooperate.

The network compares texts from Greek antiquity through to contemporary literature with regard to structurally comparable phenomena in order to answer the question as to whether and how specific metaleptic phenomena take different forms and functions in different historical contexts and to what extent one can trace continuities and developments. Focussing on clearly defined metaleptic phenomena that are found in texts of different periods, we discuss instructive passages from different historical and literary contexts in order to carve out the narrative concepts the texts are premised on. The overarching goal of these comparisons is to gain insights into the diachronic development and historico-cultural relativity of universal narrative concepts and principles. In this way, the comparisons address central topics of both diachronic and historical narratology.


  • Jan Alber (Aachen, English literature)
  • Merlijn Breunesse (Amsterdam, classical literature)
  • Monika Fludernik (Freiburg, English literature)
  • Caterina Fossi (Amsterdam, classical literature)
  • Martin Sebastian Hammer (Wuppertal, medieval German literature)
  • Julian Hanebeck (Wuppertal, English literature)
  • Talitha Kearey (Cambridge, classical literature)
  • Sonja Klimek (Kiel, German literature)
  • Thomas Kuhn-Treichel (Heidelberg, classical literature)
  • Sebastian Matzner (London, classical and comparative literature)
  • Florian Kragl (Erlangen, medieval German literature)
  • Françoise Lavocat (Paris, comparative literature)
  • Francesco Montorsi (Lyon, medieval Romance literature)
  • John Pier (Paris, English literature)
  • Sabine Schlickers (Bremen, Romance literature)
  • Christian Schneider (Osnabrück, medieval German literature)
  • Gail Trimble (Oxford, classical literature)
  • Leonie von Alvensleben (Göttingen, classical literature)
  • Eva von Contzen (Freiburg, medieval English literature)
  • Werner Wolf (Graz, English literature)
  • Daniel Zimmermann (Berlin, Romance and Old Norse literature)
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Letzte Änderung: 12.09.2022
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