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International Research Training Group "InterArt"

Subject matter, tasks, and goals

For a long time, the study of art has involved a kind of hermit’s existence, and not only in Germany. From music to theater studies and from art history to literature or film studies, each field was considered by its practitioners to be clearly defined, and clearly delineated from the others, by its own specific subject matter and the methodology and body of theory related to that subject. The last fifty years, however, have seen the emergence of tendencies throughout the arts that run counter to this delimitation of the traditional fields of art study. The responsibility for this lies with two developments in particular: first, the increasing fluidity of boundaries between the arts themselves, which arises from performativization, hybridization, and multimediatization; and second, the aestheticization of the world in which we live, meaning a tendency to blur the boundaries between what is art and non-art belonging to the spheres of politics, the economy, new media, sports, religion, and everyday practices. Both tendencies are transforming the fields in which art is studied with respect to the subjects that those fields treat, while also representing new challenges to the fields’ methodologies and theory.

Focuses of research and working areas

This situation serves as the starting point for the international research training group “InterArt,” which operates through collaboration between art studies instructors and researchers at Freie Universität Berlin and the Copenhagen Doctoral School in Cultural Theory, Literature and the Arts and has been funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) since October 1, 2006.

The research training group will initially focus on developing new methodological access to the various newly emerging inter-art phenomena by examining works of art and artistic events from a range of different eras. The group’s work also aims to serve, at the same time, for development of new aesthetic categories that are able to adequately encompass the tendencies toward multimediatization, hybridization, and performativization in the arts. In the longer term, the group aims to use this work as the basis for establishing a new type of theory with regard to various types of inter-art phenomena to which a single field of art studies, with its specific theory, is not able to do justice.

The central focus of the international research training group is, therefore, a specifically pinpointed methodological and theoretical problem against which the individual dissertations devoted to inter-art phenomena of various types from entirely different eras are to be seen as building blocks for the development of new methods and corresponding developments in theory. Because the problems that emerge in treating these works are often by no means to be seen as “purely” artistic in nature, the researchers representing the various fields of study of the arts are also supported by researchers from cultural history and historical anthropology so that connections between their work and the debates that take place within cultural studies regarding intermediality and intertextuality can be considered at the same time.