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G - Boundaries


G1 - Otium – a Cultural Transfer between East and West. Transformations of Asceticism and Monasticism 

Prof. Dr. Dr. Thomas Böhm,
Dr. des. Thomas Jürgasch


Our project investigates conceptions of Muße against the background of a late antique and early medieval cultural transfer between East and West in the Middle East. In this context, we will examine the encounter of Western ideas of otium and contemplation on the one hand, and corresponding Far Eastern concepts of asceticism and monasticism on the other hand. The resulting transformations of the concepts of otium, asceticism and monasticism will be considered in relation to the development of various monastic and ascetic traditions and their literary reflection in the novel "Barlaam and Josaphat".


Andreas Kirchner
Florian Ruf


G2 - vita mixta. A Clerical Concept Transformed for Lay Culture

Prof. Dr. Henrike Manuwald


How can one find a balance between social activity and otiose retreat? This project proposes that this question, still subject of controversial discussions, was first addressed with reference to a wider range of social classes in the late Middle Ages. An important category in this process was the clerical concept of vita mixta, which will govern the research conducted by this project team. Contemporaneously with late medieval religious culture, the early Humanist period saw intensive discussions about the relationship between vita activa and vita contemplativa. By means of comparison and contrast, this project will explore the discourse of vita mixta in German-speaking countries in this transitional period and study the semantics applied to phases of activity and phases of contemplation or learning. This will allow us to draw conclusions as to whether those phases, too, display elements of Muße.

Christian Schmidt


G3 - Decreeing Work, Regulating Leisure – and Otium?
Marxism and dosug in Soviet Culture

Prof. Prof. h.c. Dr. Dr. h.c. Elisabeth Cheauré


This project looks at the concept of Muße in Soviet society within the context of Marxist theories about work and leisure. This project will be divided into several parts which are closely linked to each other: a) the concept of Muße in the writings of Marx and other Marxist thinkers; b) Muße and its changing semantic field in the Soviet Union and in the works of Soviet ideologists, c) didactic mediation of the ‚new’ Soviet concept of Muße in Soviet children’s literature; and d) literary discourses of Muße in different developmental phases of Soviet culture.

Dr. Jochen Gimmel
Konstantin Rapp


G4 - Leisure in Contemporary Indian Literature

Prof. Dr. Monika Fludernik


In this project, the theme of leisure will be documented and analyzed in Indian novels written in English and one of the north Indian regional languages in the period between 1990 and 2016. Novels like Pankaj Mishras The Romantics, Nayantara Sahgal’s A Time to be Happy, Sunetra Gupta’s A Sin of Colour and Anita Desai’s The Artist of Disappearance depict leisure in nostalgic and anti-colonial ways. They do this by arguing that there exists a genuinely Indian leisure which radically differs from the Western dichotomy of work and idleness and which correlates with moments of reflection, the appreciation of landscape and of art. Comparing English-language novels displaying this theme and comparing them with representations of leisure in novels in the regional languages will elucidate whether the motif is linked to an indiginous Indian tradition or needs to be interpreted as an autostereotypical reinterpretation of a colonial heterostereotype.

Melina Munz
Farha Noor


G5 - Otium and Illness – Leisure Time and Reorientation in Times of Resignation and Loss

Prof. Dr. Dr. Jürgen Bengel,
Prof. Dr. Gabriele Lucius-Hoene

How do patients cope with the newly-created free time which is often a result of illness and how can this time contribute to concepts of coping and Muße (otiose Leisure)? This study uses data from the “” project (DIPExGermany), which includes over 300 in-depth interviews with patients with chronic diseases. Applying qualitative research methods like Grounded Theory, Conversation Analysis and Narrative Analysis, concepts of leisure and non-leisure time will be identified and analysed; the associated ambivalence and social implications will be considered as well.

Martina Breuning
Lisa Müller


G6 - Learning Otium? Leisure, Creativity and Deceleration in the Context of Performance Enhancement and Self-Improvement

Prof. Dr. Markus Tauschek


In modern societies shaped by discourses of optimisation, competition and the constant increase of efficiency temporal practices that are free of constraints appear as the objects of social negotiation. This negotiation process can be observed in courses in which participants are supposed to 'learn' and practice leisure in a reflexive and purposeful way. This project analyses such courses ethnographically and actor-centered and asks how Muße is discursively negotiated, performatively practiced and experienced in a bodily and sensuous fashion.

Inga Wilke