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Dr. Kay Wolfinger

Winter Semester 2019/20

Kay Wolfinger – PortraitKay Wolfinger is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Modern German Literature at LMU Munich. Subsequent to his studies of German Philology and Art History at the universities of Munich and Zurich, he received his PhD in 2014. His dissertation thesis was related to Swiss literature and theory of context ("Verstehen Sie den Zusammenhang?" Robert Walser im Kontext).

His habilitation project starts from the assumption that a cultural-historical and theoretically sound figure of the 'ghost-seer' exists. It thus takes its point of departure from the eponymous novel fragment by Friedrich Schiller ("Der Geisterseher"), to ask henceforth, where the ghosts are hiding in the history of literature and media. In doing so, the concept of ghost-seeing is first considered from a narrow perspective before finally being generally divided proup:

  1. What does it mean to see ghosts, and how and why does this occur in selected texts?
  2. How can the concept of ghost-seeing be extended in a way that seeing ghosts means making the invisible visible in general or making it possible to functionalize and interpret this border zone between disappearance, non-observability and (re-)visualization?

The aim of this project is to prove that the figure of the ghost-seer and the topic of ghost-seeing are omnipresent in cultural history and that by analyzing a definite selection of ghost-seeing texts, central constituents of media become visible: specifically, that in the concept of ghost-seeing the key anthropological issue of visualization and invisibility is laid out, wherein essentially the interpretability of the world as well as its shading and opacity are to be recognized.

During his stay as a Junior Researcher in Residence at CAS, Kay Wolfinger is going to pursue a sub-project within his habilitation treatise that especially focuses on the historical constellation in Munich after 1900 and therefore considers the contact with ghosts, spiritualism, and the séance, that is the so-termed 'ghost-scene' the project is referring to. "Die Medien der Parapsychologie. Eine Münchner Kulturgeschichte" attends to the 1880-1920 time period of Munich’s cultural history. Consequently the key interest in ‚ghost-seeing’ is confined equally in respect to topography as regarding its temporal field of attention. With that the project is going to be sharpened as it considers a relevant period and relevant characters of occultism and 'ghost-seeing'. His Visiting Fellow Stefan Andriopoulos is going to participate in a workshop regarding the 'ghost-seer' topic. Furthermore, together with Andriopoulos, Kay Wolfinger is going to enlarge upon that subject in terms of media history as well as media theory.

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