Empirical Aesthetics

Why are we moved by literature? Why are some fictions enjoyable or exciting, while others trigger anxiety, Fremdscham and Schadenfreude? Experienced readers are familiar with the range of responses that literature may elicit and the humanities have attempted to answer the questions these responses raise from a variety of angles. But to really understand why and how we react to fiction we need to know what happens in our brain when we read fiction and, ideally, find empirical evidence for these processes and effects.

With the generous support of the Gutenberg Lehrkolleg (GLK) we have been able to create an integrated series of innovative courses whose aim is to address precisely these issues. This programme is intended to give students initial ideas about and basic experimental skills in the burgeoning field of Empirical Aesthetics. Although the roots of this new area go back at least to Gustav Theodor Fechner’s Vorschule der Ästhetik (1876), the idea that the reception of literature may be investigated systematically and experimentally has only recently begun to enter the curriculum of literary studies. Our courses offer a gateway into a fascinating world of empirical research that sheds new light on familiar areas of studies.

The courses are open to all students and can be integrated in different ways into your degrees. Please contact us for details!

PD Dr. Pascal Nicklas (Pascal.Nicklas@unimedizin-mainz.de)
Univ.-Prof. Dr. Anja Müller-Wood (wood@uni-mainz.de)