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“Social dimensions” refers to the many ways in which aesthetic works forge new connections, networks, and communities as they are appropriated by and indeed become entangled with their users. Through these processes of e.g. identification and attachment, the works influence and co-create users’ social imaginaries, allowing us to recognize different forms of experience and attuning us to new forms of sociality. As scholars engaged in interdisciplinary research we are conscious of methodological difficulties in tracing the social uses of art and literature. We by no means subscribe to the notion of the self-contained or autonomous aesthetic work, yet are equally reluctant to see works as mere illustrations or symptoms of political or historical forces.

Basically we ask the question of what the uses of art and literature may be in the present moment and we seek answers in three main topical fields all drawing on a common interest in developing new literary methodologies:

  1. interdisciplinary humanistic welfare studies (preliminary focus on representations of the precariat in contemporary art and literature but also more broadly on developing a new humanistic welfare research)

  2. migration and mobility studies (preliminary focus on the figure of and representations of migrants and refugees in contemporary art and literature but also more broadly on the question of hybridization, otherness, mobilities and the postmigrant condition)

  3. health humanities and narrative medicine studies (preliminary focus on the demented and the alcoholic as types of patient and representations of dementia and alcoholism in contemporary art and literature but also more broadly on developing health humanities as research field and area of new teaching initiatives with special focus on patient involvement as a new field of narrative medicine)

  4. A major common goal is to discuss, map and develop new methodologies to carrying out these and other investigations inspired by actor network theory and other trends in post-critical hermeneutics and the new sociology of literature (surface reading, reparative reading, close description), by social science methodologies and digital and quantitative methods (distant reading), as well as health sciences. We are inspired and seek cross fertilizations between theories of recognition, ethical literary criticism, affect theory; always with the goal of opening up and exploring relations between the users of art and literature and the social field of other minds and phenomena.


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