New Collaborative Research Centre at Münster University

Klaus Stierstorfer, spokesperson for the new Collaborative Research Centre © Mün

Klaus Stierstorfer, spokesperson for the new Collaborative Research Centre © Münster University - English Department

A great success for the University of Münster: the German Research Foundation (DFG) will fund for a new Collaborative Research Centre (CRC) at the University with nine million euros. The large-scale project, to be called “Law and Literature”, will start on July 1 of this year, initially for four years. The special feature of this project is its interdisciplinary nature, with the Faculty of Philology and the Faculty of Law having joint responsibility for the CRC. Prof. Klaus Stierstorfer from the Department of English is the spokesperson and Prof. Fabian Wittreck from the Institute of Public Law and Politics is his deputy. Further partners in the project are the Institute of American Studies at the University of Osnabrück and the Department of Financial Administration at the University of Applied Administrative Sciences (Fachhochschule des Bundes) in Münster.

“Does the law need literature?” and “Does literature need the law?” - these are two key questions which researchers will examine in the planned CRC. In future, researchers in the fields of literary studies and law will be working together much more intensively than has so far been the case in Germany. “This new CRC,” says Klaus Stierstorfer, “will mean that Münster University will become an important hub for a growing and - especially for Europe - highly important field of research. For this purpose, a large number of junior researchers will be trained at our location here in an integrated Research Training Group, which will have a decisive influence on the future direction of this line of research.”

Systematic research into the relationship between the two disciplines will mean that a series of fundamental questions relating to law and to literature, to the fields of study dealing with them, and to their social and cultural importance, can be reframed, and research can be undertaken from a new angle. The work carried out so far by each of the two disciplines on the key questions thrown up by the other has remained fragmentary, says Stierstorfer. Academic or scientific reflection on the content, processes and forms of articulation relating to normative and aesthetic values is important - not least with regard to the heated debates on fact and fiction or on the disappearance of classical media and the emergence of areas of communication outside the reach of the law. The research topics to be studied can subsequently become useful for a number of other disciplines such as sociology, political science, anthropology, history or economics.

Collaborative Research Centres are long-term university-based research institutions, established for up to 12 years, which are funded by the German Research Foundation. They make it possible for work to be done on innovative and demanding research projects. Including this latest project, there are currently eight Collaborative Research Centres which are either located at the University of Münster or in which the University is the leading partner.

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