Doctoral candidates

Completed doctoral theses

Dr. Xenia Boe: “News stories about curiosities across the globe: On the correlation of subject, plot and narrativity” xenia.boe AT My interest of studies concentrates on the relationship of subject, plot and narrativity. I am investigating how subjects and plots correlate with each other, how they account for the tellability of narration and how they effect narrative presentation. For my dissertation, I have chosen stories of German news media that are composed for the entertainment of a broad audience and therefore conveniently display narrative conventions. While the validity of these narrative conventions may be restricted to our cultural area, the settings of the stories are not – many of them reach out far beyond German soil. Last but not least, I want to detect how stories with a German setting vary from those with a setting abroad in terms of subject, plot and narrative presentation. What all stories have in common though is that they were published in rubrics that are committed to curiosities. The principles underlying curiosities seem to always be the same, if not universal, which is advantageous for the interest of my research – and for a laugh about them, too. (Xenia was awarded the degree of a Doctor of Philosophy magna cum laude on 22.06.2017)

Dr. Evelyn Gius: “Narrating conflicts” In this project I investigated narratives about (real life) conflicts at the work place, using narratological categories.  My point of departure was the following hypothesis:evelyn_gius the way in which a conflict is narrated – that is, phenomena on the narrative’s discours level – allows us to infer certain features of the conflict without taking recourse to the narrative’s content as such. I investigated this hypothesis by analysing transscripts of narrative interviews which I conducted with persons who, at the time of the interview, were experiencing a conflict at their work place.  9783110422405My project’s aim was twofold: One, I wanted to contribute toward the applicability of classical narratological concepts by testing the possibility to operationalize them in the context if a computer aided analysis. Two, the results of my analysis also aim to support the development of a systematic that can be applied in the moderation of conflicts. ( Evelyn was awarded the degree of a Doctor of Philosophy magna cum laude on 31.01.2014. Her dissertation has meanwhile been published by DeGruyter in the Narratologia-series.) Mareike Schumacher MA: “Places and Spaces in the Novel. A digital literary studies My PhD thesis is a broad, digital, corpus-based study on referencing places and spaces in narrative texts. Drawing from literary, especially narratological, research, mathematical, philosophical, physics, and cultural studies approaches to the topic of space, a fuzzy-set model is elaborated that can be used to analyze and quantify space in literary texts. The model is the basis of a machine learning training with the help of which a classifier was trained. This tool automatically recognizes and annotates expressions that fall into the categories of the theory-based model. In a corpus of 100 novels spanning four centuries (18-21), more than one million annotations were inserted into the texts. These annotations were used to analyse the corpus from different perspectives. The analysis revealed the extent to which conceptual literary approaches and different spatial concepts operate in literary texts. In a diachronic comparison, for example, it was possible to demonstrate the increase in meaning of relational space in the late 18th century and early 19th century – a concept that has remained significant for referencing space in literature up to the present. With the help of the space-classifier, however, it was also possible to take a closer look at individual terms and concepts, such as the concept of the world, in a total of six thematic and four literary-historical case studies. The new, digital methodology was always linked to traditional, analog approaches. In this way, it could be shown that tradition and innovation can form a fruitful unity in the context of digital humanities research. (Mareike was awarded the degree of Doctor of Philosophy summa cum laude on 2.12.2021.)

Dr. Jan Horstmann: “Theatre Narratology. A narratological method for analyzing theatre performances” jan_horstmann AT My thesis is about a transmedial application of narratological categories on theatre in which I lay special emphasis on the performance on stage. Thus, I don’t merely pursue a transgeneric narratology of drama. I regard theatre as a highly narrative medium, and yet I observed a considerable lack  of any form of analysis in terms of narrative theory. Therefore, I would like to develop a method that addresses issues such as the communication structure in theater, the various narrative instances, temporality, spatiality and perspective or focalization in order to ask how performativity affects the act of narration. With this work I hope to contribute towards existing analytical models in drama studies as well as to the discussion about the applied narratological concepts themselves. Furthermore, I believe the establishment of theatre as a field of investigation for narratology offers several opportunities for other disciplines within the field of narratological research to enhance their theories or to provide new challenges. The goal of my approach is to highlight the comparability of different narrative media as well as pointing out specific forms of narration in theatre. In my thesis I will finally demonstrate the relevance of my model by analyzing several selected productions which cover a broad spectrum of narrative phenomena in theatre. (Jan was  awarded the degree of a Doctor of Philosophy summa cum laude on 18.5.2017. His dissertation has meanwhile been published by DeGruyter in the Narratologia-series.) Janina Jacke M.A.: “Unreliable Narration. On the Pitfalls of a Narratological Category” My research focuses on the analytic category of unreliable narration. This particular narratological category has become increasingly popular in literary research, but, at the same time, is used inconsistently and inflationary. I am aiming to develop a definition of the category that (1) provides the necessary and sufficient conditions for the occurrence of narrative unreliability, (2) is compatible with structuralist narratology, (3) is terminologically and conceptually plausible as well as (4) heuristically useful. To achieve this goal, it is necessary to deal with basic problems in the field of literature studies such as the distinction of analysis and interpretation as well as with the philosophical issues of sentence meaning and truth in fictional texts. If it is possible to provide a definition of narrative unreliability that is neutral in terms of interpretation, the category may also be utilized for computer aided analyses of narrative texts. (Janina was awarded the degree of a Doctor of Philosophy summa cum laude on 05.07.2018 – Congratulations!) Dr. Frederike Lagoni: „Fictional/factual. A historical-narratological comparison of literary narrative forms“ f.lagoni AT Factual narration tells us something about reality, whereas its fictional counterpart establishes a fictive world, which does not refer directly to the actual one. Hence both forms of narration contain different epistemological possibilities: the narrator of a factual story can only tell what he has been able to experience (one way or another), whereas the fictive narrator is not subject to such limitations. This difference becomes obvious in the case of narratorial representation of the minds of others in heterodiegetic narratives. My dissertation project focuses on this difference asking if, respectively how, fictional and factual literary narratives really differ from each other narratologia-lagoniin practice in respect to their representations of foreign minds. For this purpose I analyse a diachronically arranged corpus of fictional and biographical narratives and confront the results with the corresponding theoretical discourse on fictionality. The aim of my project is to contribute to a diachronic narratology in general, and to the so-called ‘signpost of fictionality’- discourse in particular. Moreover I wish to encourage narratology to risk a little more empiricism. (Frederike was awarded the degree of a Doctor of Philosophy magna cum laude on 30.01.2015; her dissertation was published in DeGruyter’s Narratologia series.) Dr.Lena Modrow:  „Narrativity of contemporary German and English lyrics“ lena.schuech AT My dissertation deals with the narrativity of contemporary German and English song lyrics. It focuses on a transgeneric application of narratological concepts of narrativity in combination with a computer-based analysis technique. The narratologically defined concept of narrativity is applied to rock, pop and folk songs. With the transfer of that theory, I analyse on the basis of a text corpus how narrative contemporary songs are and what kind of narrative structures can be found in them. The interpretation and systematization of the different kinds of narrativity is carried out with the help of the software CATMA resp. CLÉA, modrow-langfor which the corpus will be tagged manually with narratological and also musical-discursive categories, with which general structures can be identified. I am also co-coordinator of the Narratological Colloquium ( where we always like to welcome new faces! (Lena was awarded the degree of a Doctor of Philosophy summa cum laude on 02.06.2015; her dissertation was published by Peter Lang Verlag in 2016.) Dr. Vera Schmitz: „Edwin Erich Dwinger: Die deutsche Passion. The fight for an authoritative interpretation of World War I in the late war literature of the Weimar Republic.“ vera_schmitz at With the publication of “Die deutsche Passion“ between 1929 and 1932 Edwin Erich Dwinger (1898 -1981), a contemporary of Ernst Jünger, achieved one of the greatest successes of German war literature. In my dissertation project I examine the means of narration and the choice of themes that led to this feat. The number of copies, the translations, the adaptions of the plot as well as the many reviews are indicative of Dwinger’s success. My hypothesis is that the success of “Die deutsche Passion“ is due to two peculiarities of the text. One of the remarkable features of this text is the skilful use of narrative strategies. These I examine with narratological methods (Gérard Genette). The second distinctive feature is the presentation of novel themes as for example the critical discussion of Bolshevism or the outline of a future for Germany. The unprecedented treatment of currently discussed themes then further promoted this success. I examine these aspects with methods of the sociology of literature (Pierre Bourdieu). With my project I want to explain how narrative strategies succeed in establishing a text´s prominent position in a specific literary field. Furthermore, I want to show how narrative strategies transport positions of Weltanschauung that are embedded in the plot. (Vera successfully defended her dissertation in July 2016.)