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Vladimir Sorokin: Den’ Opričnika, 2008
In its first phase, our project investigated programs of ‘non-objectivity’ in avant-garde literature and theory. In its second phase, the project took the basic, anti-mimetic impulse by which these programs are dominated as the starting point for a treatment various forms of avant-garde scepticism towards the fictional. The avant-garde discourse rejects the fictional and considers it to be the illusionary counterpart to “fact” and “life,” which are emphatically featured.While the investigation of ontological shifts and the dissolution of the limits of fiction was central to the second phase of the project, further aspects of the project will focus on questions pertaining to the conditions that turn fiction into a generic form of aesthetic experience. Precisely because of the insistant nature of time-related arguments that arise from a scepticism towards fiction – in postulating a political and social contemporaneity, in positing a current and historical facticity, in theories of a dialectical time-shift or interval – the project is now attempting to identify the temporal implications of fiction. The title “fictional temporality” includes two delimitations. It challenges the emphatic proclamation of fictional timelessness - linking the experience of presentification to that of the suspension of all historical time differences (Käte Hamburger). At the same time, the thesis of fictional temporality argues against the dogma that only by renouncing fiction could an involvement in the historical and current course of time be experienced. The project is divided into two sub-projects. The first analyzes the operative function of tense structures within a fictional shifting of time horizons. The second is devoted to historical narration and conjoined modes of judgement that oscillate between a sense for the possible and reference to the real.
Sub-project 1: Fictional temporality in cinematic and literary tenses
(Dr. Anke Hennig)
Narrative fiction does not create a second world but instead changes our modes of reference to the world we have. Fiction operates with deixis, the everyday practice of (linguistic and filmic) indication, where reference is dependent on an deictic centre: Origo's Here-I-Now. With the term shifter (Jakobson), which marks the historical beginning of the deictic shift theory, we measure their poetic dimensions, where the avant-gardist device of shifting (russ. sdvig) lives on.The sub-project investigates fiction in a media-comparative perspective as a shift of time horizons a) in the development of a cinematic time image, b) in the dramaturgy of literary scenarios (screenplays) where film and literature intersect, and c) in the novel's conquest of the present tense in the course of the 20th century (in co-authorship with Armen Avanessian, project C9). In exploring the narrative dimensions of the present tense novel, the subprojects are cooperating with the center for narrative research (ZEF).
Sub-project 2: For example... Ivan. Modes of judgement in historical narration
(Dr. Brigitte Obermayr, Prof. Dr. Georg Witte)
The subproject’s aim is to characterize modes of judgement in and resulting from historical narration. The subproject takes as its starting point the debate on the reference to reality that utterances in historical narration may contain. It is assumed that reference to reality is the basis upon which the fictional becomes operable in historical narration and is able to be transferred to realms outside of the fictional. Kate Hamburger’s concept of the fictional that ‘makes present’ by annihilating historical reference and, in turn, any reference to reality, negates any operativity of the fictional. The subproject will focus on forms of judgement in historical narration as well as on the fact that historical narration always tends to be examplary of something in making the case against such timelessness, against concepts of ‘making present’ outside calendaric time.The subproject will perform such investigations on the material provided by literary and historiographic depictions of tsar Ivan Vassilevitch (Ivan IV, The Terrible, 1530-1584). ‘Ivan the Terrible’ most frequently serves as an example when it comes to judgement on history in Russian culture. As Ivan IV represents the internal as well as external consolidation of the Moscow Empire and, at the same time, strategic and institutional terrorism, such depictions and judgements are often not uncontroversial.