Aesthetic Temporalities of Literary Physics
The project addresses the diverse constellations of aesthetic temporality that have emerged since the seventeenth century in the interplay between the procedures, theories, and applications of scientific physics and literary practices and poetics. It investigates, first, the different dimensions of physical temporality, whereby relationship of relevant physical actants, that is, persons, objects, procedures, texts and theories, are determined by such temporal connections. Second, it places physics and literature in particular into a historically differentiated relationship with respect to their temporality: here, the focus is on processes of transference and the constitution of trading zones between both areas, also taking additional fields into account. Third, however, the main focus is on the question of how literature finds inspiration for its own temporal elements in the physical sciences and how it incorporates the different temporal components of physics into its texts, further develops them into independent elements and thus expands its own poetological possibilities.
Three research perspectives shall enable access to the aforementioned focal points. First of all, they are organized according to four paradigms that pertain to the theory of time in physics (classical mechanics, thermodynamics, relativity theory, quantum physics) and enable a historical specification, while also each relating to specific aspects of temporality. Second, four zones of transference (textual manifestation/popularization, procedure, speculation, technical application) will help to analyze major facets of the relationship between physics and literature. And third, further theoretical elaboration of the theorem of the time figure will enable the inconceivable dimensions of time to be investigated in critical textual analyses – which could also be of interest for the Priority Program above and beyond the concrete topic of this project.
The project thus seeks to treat physics as one of the most important areas of the scientific production and reflection of time and, through the study of points of transference with literature, to identify the cultural productivity of this body of knowledge. Concretely, this will happen in two areas of work: first, the theoretical foundations of the research question and its methodological approach will be clarified; second, a dissertation will analyze the connection between theory, speculation, and technology using the example of time travel.