Center for Literature and Natural Science



Physics, literature and literary criticism are discourses of knowledge production which have drifted apart considerably in the course of the modern functional differentiation of social systems. At the same time, both discourses contribute to the comprehension and mastery of present and future problems which invariably have both technological and cultural implications. Technologies and natural science  often acquire the status of wordlviews and central myths.  They determine human life worlds and are therefore of tremendous cultural relevance. With the aesthetic representation of key signatures of its time, literature forms an interdiscourse, reintegrating functionally differentiated systems of knowledge into the horizon of the life world. At present more well informed and highly reflective literary texts dealing with physical issues are being published than ever before. By means of dialogue and narration, they translate physical knowledge from mathematical-symbolic into verbal-polyvalent forms of representation and re-embed it in specific cultural contexts. Recent literary criticism and linguistic studies have therefore begun to investigate discursive and narrative modulations of physical theories both in literary texts and in scientific literature.

Natural Science is itself becoming increasingly aware, both of the linguistic dimension of scientific communication and research and of the general cultural dimension of knowledge.

The analysis of concept formation in the natural sciences can profit from the competence of literary theory, while the analysis of the transformation of physical knowledge in literary texts needs to be complemented by a sound knowledge of physical theory. ELINAS provides a platform for this exchange: it develops this research field historically and systematically, bringing together the competences in the fields of literary and cultural studies as well as the natural sciences represented by the departments to which the members belong.

For more information: http://elinas.fau.de/.