Research platform „Literary field GDR“: authors, works, networks Pilot study: The students of the Institute of Literature „Johannes R. Becher“ Leipzig


The project heuristically draws upon research on GDR literature viewed from the perspective of Bourdieu’s notion of literary field and, perspectively, aims at a complete coverage of this field. For this purpose, it is necessary to 1.) collect data for providing the empirical basis for advanced quantitative analysis 2.) apply quantitative methods for exemplarily investigating literary fields and networks 3.) develop user friendly software tools for data input and exploration. The pilot study is dedicated to the direct students at the German Institute for Literature “Jo-hannes R. Becher” (IfL) in Leipzig. These persons constitute a group of authors that is both complete and representative for the literary field of the GDR. From 1955 until 1993, the IfL was the only academic institution for the education of authors within the German speaking countries, and one of the most influential institutions within the GDR’s literary field. It reflects both the GDR’s attempt to claim leadership by cultural politics, and the “poetic idiosyncrasy” of literary practice. Its graduates comprise a wide scope of literary forms, genres and field positions, ranging from canonical authors to outsiders and dissidents. The institute provided the grounds for various careers and roles and contributed to the establishment of networks and to the profiling of different and divergent aesthetic positions. As the basis for a digital research platform on GDR literature, the project will comprehensively investigate sources related to biography, work and reception of the 348 IfL direct students. Collection of data will be based on 1.) a synopsis of existing information published in encyclo-paedias or authority files, 2.) research of archival sources, and 3.) questionnaires. Based on this data, analyses of authors’ networks and their position within the field will be carried out. Within the field of literary research, the project, hence, brings together fundamental bio-biographical research on the authors to be considered with the employment of quantitative approaches for analysing literary fields and networks from various perspectives. In addition, a software infrastructure will be developed that integrates functionality for advanced search and analysis and makes it accessible for domain experts without particular IT expertise, aiming at addressing a broad range of research interests and usages. The project will deliver standalone results by the provision of fundamental data for analysing a key institution of the literary field of the GDR and exemplary investigations on these data. If it is completed successfully, funding for the further investigation of the literary field of the GDR will be applied for. In the end, it will be possible to carry out research in literary history based on a comprehensive data collection for a complete literary field.
The project heuristically draws upon research on GDR literature viewed from the perspective of Bourdieu’s notion of literary field and, perspectively, aims at a complete coverage of this field. For this purpose, it is necessary to 1.) collect data for providing the empirical basis for advanced quantitative analysis 2.) apply quantitative methods for exemplarily investigating literary fields and networks 3.) develop user friendly software tools for data input and exploration. The pilot study is dedicated to the direct students at the German Institute for Literature “Jo-hannes R. Becher” (IfL) in Leipzig. These persons constitute a group of authors that is both complete and representative for the literary field of the GDR. From 1955 until 1993, the IfL was the only academic institution for the education of authors within the German speaking countries, and one of the most influential institutions within the GDR’s literary field. It reflects both the GDR’s attempt to claim leadership by cultural politics, and the “poetic idiosyncrasy” of literary practice. Its graduates comprise a wide scope of literary forms, genres and field positions, ranging from canonical authors to outsiders and dissidents. The institute provided the grounds for various careers and roles and contributed to the establishment of networks and to the profiling of different and divergent aesthetic positions. As the basis for a digital research platform on GDR literature, the project will comprehensively investigate sources related to biography, work and reception of the 348 IfL direct students. Collection of data will be based on 1.) a synopsis of existing information published in encyclo-paedias or authority files, 2.) research of archival sources, and 3.) questionnaires. Based on this data, analyses of authors’ networks and their position within the field will be carried out. Within the field of literary research, the project, hence, brings together fundamental bio-biographical research on the authors to be considered with the employment of quantitative approaches for analysing literary fields and networks from various perspectives. In addition, a software infrastructure will be developed that integrates functionality for advanced search and analysis and makes it accessible for domain experts without particular IT expertise, aiming at addressing a broad range of research interests and usages. The project will deliver standalone results by the provision of fundamental data for analysing a key institution of the literary field of the GDR and exemplary investigations on these data. If it is completed successfully, funding for the further investigation of the literary field of the GDR will be applied for. In the end, it will be possible to carry out research in literary history based on a comprehensive data collection for a complete literary field.


Principal investigators
Martus, Steffen Prof. Dr. phil. (Details) (Modern German Literature / Literature of the 18th to the Present)

Duration of project
Start date: 10/2019
End date: 09/2022

Research Areas
Communication Sciences, General and Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies, Humanities and Social Sciences, Information Systems, Process and Knowledge Management, Modern and Current History, Modern German Literature, Theatre and Media Studies

Research Areas
DDR-Geschichte

Last updated on 2022-07-09 at 17:05