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Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study

Professor Gerhard Lauer

COFUND Senior Research Fellow at St Mary's College, Durham University (January - March 2015)

Prof Lauer is the Founding Director of the Göttingen Centre for Digital Humanities, University of Göttingen. Prof Lauer’s is one of the most prominent contemporary names in literary studies in Germany and has received major recognition for his work, both within Germany (for example with the award of a graduate research group from Germany’s leading Humanities research funder, the DFG), and further afield (he was a Distinguished Max Kade Visiting Professor at Washington University at St Louis, a high-ranking award).

The Narrative Self As Emergence : Prof Lauer’s study proposes that emergence is both a necessary bridging term between the endangered self of modernity and society, and between the theory of literature and scientific culture. The psychology behind literary studies is too often founded on an ultimately egocentric view of the self. In contrast to this, recent research on social cognition has disclosed a different perspective where the ‘I’ is understood as co-emergent with the ‘We’. In this framework he wishes to propose in his project that literature is a specific human behaviour which is crucial for children’s development and is of central importance even for adult humans to understand others. Literature can change our beliefs and alter our personality; literature is of an altero-centric gestalt. To explore this hypothesis he seeks to make use of experimental and computer based methods. In coming to Durham Prof Lauer will collaborate with colleagues in the Humanities (and beyond) who share an interest in the cognitive futures of literary studies and who might collaborate in examining the altero-centric gestalt of literature for a period of three months.

“I like the open atmosphere and cross disciplinary discussions with many of the IAS fellows, particular […]. I enjoyed very much the life at the college and the combination of IAS, college and department. ”

Professor Gerhard Lauer, Goettingen University