Carlos Spoerhase is a literary theorist and professor of German literature. He studied German literature, philosophy as well as history of political thought and intellectual history. He received his doctorate in 2006 and his habilitation in 2016, both from Humboldt University of Berlin. In 2016, he accepted a professorship at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz. Since 2017 he holds a professorship for German Literature at Bielefeld University. He has held visiting positions at The Johns Hopkins University, King’s College London and the University of Pennsylvania. He regularly writes on contemporary literature and culture for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the Süddeutsche Zeitung, Merkur and New Left Review.
Figurations and Aesthetic Formations of Magnitude
What role do scales and proportions of cultural objects play when it comes to their description and interpretation? This theoretical question has recently been increasingly discussed. This project is devoted to enquiring to what extent a study of the aesthetic inception and materialization of cultural forms depends on a systematic consideration of questions of scale. It aims to demonstrate that the study of the concrete composition and fashioning of works of art, of the intra- and inter-cultural comparison of aesthetic structures, and of the historical dynamic of processes of cultural change in the arts can benefit from focussing on phenomena of scaling. On the one hand, this might help establish cultural figurations of scaling as a fixed category in our fundamental repertoire of aesthetic theory. On the other hand, comparative case studies of concrete aesthetic figurations – drawn particularly from the history of European literature from the 18th century to the present – offer an opportunity to examine how they respond to changes of size or to the manner in which their dimensions are varied in relation to those of other figurations, both aesthetic and non-aesthetic. Magnitude is thus to be brought into focus as a force directly contributing to the fashioning of the object. The project is determined to bring about a theoretically sophisticated historical analysis of the genesis and dynamics of cultural forms from the perspective of the problem of scaling.