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Prof. Dr. Barbara Vinken, Ph.D.

Academic Year 2012/13

Barbara Vinken, who teaches General and French Literature Studies at the LMU, is concerned in her project with the "inner Orient". She makes the assumption that the paradigm "Orient", in the form in which it was reinvestigated during the 19th century in the so-called Oriental Renaissance, took on a central role in the literature of the period for the analysis and critique of European society under the critical keywords "degeneration" and "decadence". From Balzac to Flaubert, Zola and Maupassant, the Orient becomes a central metaphor for the analysis of the social spectrum from an economic, gender and political perspective. In the works of these authors, the Orient is no longer the distant or "other" place, as it is often portrayed in orientalism, but rather an “inner Orient” which the Western world possesses within itself. The criticism of modernity transported in this image of the Orient is to be exposed and made accessible in the course of this project, particularly through a new interpretation of the realistic French literature of the 19th century.

The goal of Barbara Vinken's one-year visit is to complete a study in cooperation with the project participants Anna-Lisa Dieter, Cordula Reichart and Michael Rieser. Parallel to this, the young scholars will be pursuing their own research questions: Cordula Reichart is working on the topic of the ambivalence of the Western world towards the "other" or the "Oriental", Anna-Lisa Dieter is investigating restoration and body images in the work of Stendhal and Balzac, and Michael Rieser is looking at the orientalized representation of Catholicism in the Second French Empire in the works of Zola and Maupassant.

During the course of the year, the guest scholars Andrea Frisch, Professor of French Literature at the University of Maryland, College Park, Michèle Lowrie, Professor in the Department of Classics specializing in Roman Literature and Culture at the University of Chicago, and Susanna Elm, Professor of the History of Late Antiquity at the University of California in Berkeley, will be visiting the CAS.

Visiting Fellows

Prof. Dr. Susanna Elm
(Department of History, University of California Berkeley, CA, USA)

Prof. Andrea M. Frisch, Ph.D.
(School of Languages, Literatures, and Culture, University of Maryland, College Park, MD, USA)

Prof. Michèle Lowrie, Ph.D.
(Department of Classics, University of Chicago, IL, USA)