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Literaturwissenschaft und der ‚eudaimonic turn‘

Unzeitgemäße Betrachtungen zum Lebenswissen der Literatur und zu Axel Hackes ‚Wozu wir da sind‘ als literarisches Gedankenexperiment für ein gelungenes Leben

Vera Nünning, Ansgar Nünning

Pages 53 - 83

A series of theoretical reorientations has not only reshaped the study of culture and the humanities, these ‘cultural turns’ (Doris Bachmann-Medick) have also had an impact on the trajectory of literary studies. Taking its cue from one of the most recent turns that have been proposed, viz. the so-called ‘eudaimonic turn’ (James O. Pawelski and D.J. Moores), this essay argues that literary studies have good reasons to involve themselves more strongly than hitherto in the interdisciplinary discussion on what constitutes a good life, and that literature itself creates important life-knowledge and cultural models of what a good life could look like. Literary works delineate aesthetically created thought experiments that test different models of viable or good forms of life (section 2). The knowledge of literature, however, does not entail explicit or normative recommendations on how to lead one’s life, but is based more on the aesthetic forms and literary techniques used for representing forms of life. These hypotheses are explored in section 3 by means of an exemplary analysis of Axel Hacke’s latest book ‚Wozu wir da sind. Walter Wemuts Handreichungen für ein gelungenes Leben‘ (2019). The essay attempts to show that a reorientation towards the poetics and thematic of a good life or eudaimonia opens up not only new research questions and trajectories for literary studies but also affords an opportunity to increase the social and practical relevance of a form of literary studies that gravitate towards life sciences (section 4). A short epilogue in a more personal and subjective vein concludes this essay with reflections on the question of what professors and universities are there for.


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