The grants have gone to Professor Dr Miriam Edlich-Muth (Department of English and American Studies), Professor Dr Laura Hartmann (Macromolecular Chemistry), Dr Eva Ulrike Pirker (Department of English and American Studies) and Professor Dr Eva-Maria Troelenberg (Art History).
The interdisciplinary project Post-REALM (“Post-National Reconceptions of European Literary History”) headed by Professor Miriam Edlich-Muth, Chair of Medieval English Literature and Historical Linguistics, is based in the area of Medieval English Studies. Professor Edlich-Muth will combine digital methods with conventional hermeneutic approaches to conduct a comparative analysis of 32 versions of the late-medieval, pan-European story Floire & Blancheflor. On the one hand, the project aims to gain a new understanding of how this popular story was written, adapted and disseminated in various European regions, and on the other hand, to encourage a fundamental methodological change in research into historic text traditions.
Professor Laura Hartmann, holder of the Chair of Macromolecular Chemistry, was successful with her project “GLYMCE – Glycan Mimetics for Cell Glycocalyx Reconstitution: a polymer chemist’s approach to fight infection”. This project focuses on the natural, dense layer of sugars that surrounds all cells – the so-called glycocalyx – and its role in infections. On the one hand, this thick layer protects the cells, yet on the other hand, pathogens such as bacteria and viruses use the sugars to bind to the cells. This “docking process” is often the first step in an infection. The working group headed by Professor Hartmann aims to gain a better understanding of exactly how the pathogens bind to the sugars on the cell surface. To investigate this, simplified forms of the natural sugar structures, so-called polymer glycan mimetics, will be replicated in the laboratory. In additional to fundamental questions, the intention is also to examine the extent to which these polymers are suitable for detecting, preventing and fighting infections.
In her English and literary studies project “Meritocracy and Literature: Transcultural Approaches to Hegemonic Forms”, Dr Eva Ulrike Pirker from the Department of English and American Studies will research how social narratives on merit are reflected in and shape literary forms, and in turn, how they have been shaped by literary forms. The proverb “we are all the architects of our own fortune” already existed in the ancient world, but the full extent to which this applies has only become truly apparent in modern times. The boom in meritocratic narratives can be traced particularly well in English-language contexts. They are played out on the stages of London and circulate worldwide via colonisation and globalisation processes: in travelogues, novels, artistic manifestos and stories of superheroes. In six sub-projects, MERLIT will examine variants of meritocratic narratives and the way in which literature relates to them and positions itself – from the 16th into the 21st century and with a view to transcultural developments.
Professor Eva-Maria Troelenberg, Transcultural Humanities at the Department of Art History, will examine the history of the Mediterranean region since 1800 in her project “Machinery Rooms of the Mediterranean, 1800-present: Images and Visual Archives of Movement and Acceleration” (MEDMACH). Modern times and the present in this region appear to be characterised by fragmentation processes, making the unifying term “Mediterranean” itself, with its largely Eurocentric connotations, problematic. MEDMACH focuses on previously little-considered and neglected places, perspectives and narratives: infrastructures and machinery of industrialised acceleration such as airports, railway stations, industrial ports and ships. In particular, the project will leverage the potential of images and visual archives. The diverse processes of (dis-)connectivity are reflected in the circulation and reception of such images from the “machinery room”. They make it possible to write a critically reflected history of the Mediterranean region since 1800 in its global interconnections and postcolonial dimensions.