World Report

Interdisciplinary Center for Narratology, University of Hamburg

By Stephanie Neu

The Interdisciplinary Center for Narratology was founded in April 2004. It has its origins in the University of Hamburg's Narratology Research Group (FGN), which has been carrying out fourteen separate projects on various aspects of narrative theory since 2001 and is piloting the use of e-science tools for cooperative research. The ICN’s aim is to serve the University of Hamburg as well as the wider scholarly community by supporting and taking further the research of the FGN.

The ICN is an interdisciplinary body concerned with narrative phenomena, in both factual as well as fictional contexts, as they present themselves in various media. These include texts, images, films, and various kinds of cultural practices. In a first phase of the project, four areas of activity are planned:

  1. initiating, supporting and coordinating research projects, conferences and publications on narratology (further information on our work since 2001 can be found on NarrPort, the internet portal of the FGN);

  2. maintaining and developing the ICN internet portal (employing the e-Port concept for web based information, communication, and cooperation in the humanities);

  3. planning and coordinating courses on narratology, focusing on a “Studies in Narrative Formation” blended learning program for Bachelor and Master degree students;

  4. pursuing the project of an internet-based “Handbook of Narratology”. In conjunction with Hamburg University Press and de Gruyter publishers (Berlin and New York), the ICN is planning a narratological handbook in the form of a continually updated online publication and a print version in English. Collation of files for the handbook entries started in 2006 on the basis of a lemma list. It is expected that de Gruyter will publish a print version of selected articles in 2008 (a total of 300 pages with 34 articles).

Within the context of the new Bachelor's degree programs, courses on narratology are currently being designed for standard use at the University of Hamburg as well as in an international context. Blended learning material is included in the resources made available for teaching. Furthermore, the Faculty of Humanities will offer an interdisciplinary M. A. in Narratology. Cooperation with corresponding courses at foreign universities is planned.

A group of researchers within the ICN has been working on the design of an interactive e-learning course called “NarrNetz” under the direction of Jan Christoph Meister since July 2005. This course, which has been translated into English and is part of the BA-program "Narratology and Storytelling" of the University of Southern Denmark, forms a component of the “Studies in Narrative Formations” blended-learning Bachelor course module. Members of the ICN have also gained valuable experience in designing e-learning courses from their work on a course entitled “Grundkurs Narratologie - Studies in Narrative Formations I” (Foundation Course in Narratology - Studies in Narrative Formations I). This course, which is now offered by the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Hamburg, was developed by Silke Lahn and Jan Christoph Meister in cooperation with the FGN and awarded funding by the E-Learning Consortium Hamburg in 2004. The Foundation Course in Narratology has been used actively in teaching practice since the 2005 summer semester; it provides students studying literature with the material and categories they need to carry out the narratological description and structural analysis of texts.

The ICN cooperates, among other, with the following partners:

  • Project Narrative, Ohio State University, USA

  • Zentrum für Erzählforschung (ZEF, Center for Narrative Studies Research), University of Wuppertal

  • narratologists at the Centre de recherches sur les arts et le langage (EHESS-CNRS), Paris

  • narratologists at the Center for Narratologiske Studier, Kolding

  • narratologists at the Academy of Sciences, Czech Republic

  • narratologists at the Universities of Budapest (Eötvös-Loránt) and St. Petersburg

Our resources on theoretical and practical aspects of narratology include a comprehensive bibliography (NarrBib) accessible online via the ICN internet portal.