The Power of Wonder

The Instrumentalization of Admiration, Astonishment and Surprise in Discourses of Knowledge, Power and Art

A SNF Sinergia Project




Presentation and Workshop
“Staunen. Über eine existenzielle Erlebensform in Kunst, Wissenschaft und Alltag”
by/with Paolo Bianchi, art critic, curator and creativity researcher at Zurich University of the Arts

November 28/29, 2019, University of Zurich

Scientifica 19 “Science Fiction – Science Facts” (August 30 – September 1, 2019)

We presented our project during the science fair “Scientifica” – with an exhibition stand and a short lecture by Mireille Schnyder on the “Power of Wonder”.

Three intense days discussing with a broad public the strategies of visualization and presentation in science and the question which role wonder, fictions and images play in processes of knowledge production.

Link to Scientifica website

International and Interdisciplinary Conference
”Provozierte Bewunderung. Selbstinszenierungen und Vergemeinschaftung”
July 4-6, 2019

University of Zurich, RAA, Aula, Rämistrasse 59, 8001 Zurich
Conference Program (PDF)

New Publication “Staunen. Eine Poetik” by Nicola Gess
with Wallstein Publishers

Review about the book “Staunen. Eine Poetik” on Deutschlandfunk Kultur (March 10, 2019)
”Eine Reise zum Ursprung der Philosophie”

Interview with Prof Dr Nicola Gess (University of Basel) about the project



This project aims to provide groundbreaking insights into the social relevance of aesthetic emotions, by showing that the analysis of the deliberate instrumentalization of wonder (Staunen) in political, scientific, social and artistic contexts casts an innovative light onto the structuring of cultural values, the ordering of knowledge and our practices of governance and domination.

It builds upon the results of a previous Sinergia project, Poetics and Aesthetics of Amazement. As indicated in its title, that first phase of research focused on the fabrication, reflection and function of wonder within literature and the arts, with a significant attention to philosophical thought. However, the new project endeavors to research how these practices and the kinds of wonder they induce are used in the fields of power and knowledge. If aesthetics, rhetoric and poetics investigate and conceptualize the artificial production of wonder in the threefold sense of admiration, astonishment and surprise, these closely related emotions are also put in operation in a much broader range of human activities. They are commonly sought, managed and questioned in, for example, politics, pedagogy and education, polemology, ecological and security issues, (popular) science, advertising and media, when issues of hierarchy, legitimacy and risk assessment, but also persuasion, manipulation and entertainment are at stake.

The project aims to study these instrumentalizations of wonder and to assess their massive cultural importance in a strongly interdisciplinary perspective that primarily joins cultural sociology and literary studies, as well as the history of science, but that will also rely on the collaboration of scholars of educational science, history, art and architecture, musicology, and security studies, who are involved in supervising the doctoral candidates. That said, our methodology is based on the hypothesis that literature, literary studies and the sociological approach of cultural analysis are key tools to understand processes in which wonder is instrumentalized. Literature has not only reflected on its own fabrication and use of this affect; it has also constantly depicted, analyzed and/or criticized the broader social and anthropological utilization of wonder that we want to study, and it therefore forms a rich diachronic archive of relevant observations and assumptions. Non-literary strategies of inducing and appropriating wonder heavily rely on linguistic, discursive and aesthetic tools: their analysis therefore calls for instruments of literary studies, such as rhetoric, poetics, aesthetics, that are to be applied to a meta-analysis of public discourses of knowledge and power, their practices and arrangement in the public sphere. Finally, the sociological approach of cultural analysis allows us to research wonder as a specific form of elicited and orchestrated interpersonal behavior.

Historically, the project focuses on early modern and modern history and contemporary times. This time frame, ranging from 1600 to the present, allows for examining important discursive and historical shifts, which we consider to be crucial for the topic at hand.

The project endeavors to research the instrumentalization of wonder in the fields of power and knowledge, with regard to three research foci: (1) Truth by Astonishment, (2) Order by Admiration, and (3) Destabilization by Surprise.


Institutions Involved:

  • University of Zurich, German Department, Prof. Dr. Mireille Schnyder

  • University of Basel, German Department, Prof. Dr. Nicola Gess

  • University of Freiburg, Department of Sociology, Prof. Dr. Ulrich Bröckling

  • University of Basel, French Department, Prof. Dr. Hugues Marchal


Research Topics

  1. Truth by Astonishment

Utopian Knowledge

Utopian Knowledge

Quadratures of Amazement - Philosophies of Wonder in the Interwar Period

Quadratures of Amazement - Philosophies of Wonder in the Interwar Period

2. Order by Admiration

Ecologies of Mind and Behavior. Discovering the Human Psyche in its Environment 1900 - 1960

Ecologies of Mind and Behavior. Discovering the Human Psyche in its Environment 1900 - 1960

Admiration and Overwhelming on the Theatre Stage in the Second Half of the 19th Century

Admiration and Overwhelming on the Theatre Stage in the Second Half of the 19th Century

The Staging of the Self in Early Modern Literature

The Staging of the Self in Early Modern Literature

3. Destabilization by surprise

A Genealogy of Dreaming

A Genealogy of Dreaming

Strategies of the Everyday. Surprise in Balzac's Comédie humaine

Strategies of the Everyday. Surprise in Balzac's Comédie humaine

Research Topic 1

Truth by Astonishment

This research topic examines the use of wonder in discourses of knowledge, truth and authenticity. The topic can build upon research in the first Sinergia project, which, taking up other scholarship, managed to trace the trajectory of the Aristotelian understanding of astonishment as the beginning of philosophy and knowledge well into the 20th century, but also demonstrated that the influential (Platonic) concept of wonder as a means to glimpse into eternal ideas can be found in epistemic as well as religious and poetological discourses. Thus, on the one hand, the topic of truth by astonishment looks at the instrumentalization of wonder to gain and promote knowledge and to establish its pertinence. On the other hand, it examines truth-claims that consider wonder to be a naïve or an intuitive approach to the world that may however grant access to a higher truth. Depending on the various possible critical viewpoints, the latter understanding of wonder stands in contradiction to enlightened, cognitive, rational, or technocratic ways of dealing with the world. In this way, wonder connects cultural patterns, religious, scientific, or political interests and explanatory models to both an anthropological essence and a truth of experience, in a legitimizing and affirming way. While this concept of wonder is of special importance to the anti-Enlightenment movements, its relevance can also be shown for an earlier phase, namely political and social utopias of the 17th century.


Utopia Knowledge (Dissertation)

Henrike Gätjens

(Image: Visualization of Johann Valentin Andreae's Christianopolis (1619); engraved folded plate attached to the first edition. Artist unknown. (c) Getty Research Institute)

The project aims to elucidate the function of wonder in utopias of the seventeenth century. By linking German studies, the history of science and the history of architecture, this dissertation project is interested in forms of legitimization and hierarchization of knowledge and truth. To this end, the utopian texts are inquired as epistemological documents within the context of early modern experimental cultures. The role of wonder is of particular interest not only concerning the acquisition of knowledge, being depicted as a means of generating curiosity and an urge for insight, but also in regard to the materialization of wonder in the structuring of space and architecture envisioned in utopian texts. While the spatial structures both potentially overwhelm the subject and control perspectives, they are also designed to induce admiration for the well-organized utopian society. Against this background, this project will explore how wonder epistemologically and spatially shapes practices of representation and (de)legitimization of knowledge and power. One key question of the project is then: How do the utopian texts proceed in making truth claims about the good society, in defending or establishing certain values and in legitimizing the possibility of another marvelous reality?

(Advisors: Prof. Dr. Mireille Schnyder, Prof. Dr. Philip Ursprung)


Henrike Gätjens studied Philosophy, History, and Sociology in Freiburg and Paris. During her studies, she worked as a teaching assistant in both Philosophy and History and as a coordinator for the “Erasmus” mobility program. She held a scholarship of the “Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes”. In Freiburg, she organized lecture courses on the topics of identity, language as well as on the question of what philosophy is good for. Since May 2018, she is working on her dissertation within the framework of the SNF Sinergia project The Power of Wonder, and she is also a member of the doctoral program “Mediality – Historical Perspectives” at the University of Zurich. Publications: Günther Anders, Die Weltfremdheit des Menschen. Schriften zur philosophischen Anthropologie, München 2018 (co-ed. together with Christian Dries); Heidegger und Husserl, Husserl und Heidegger. Interpretationen einer Konstellation, in: Philosophisches Jahrbuch 121 (2014), pp. 333–350 (together with Tobias Keiling).

Quadratures of Amazement – Philosophies of Wonder in the Interwar Period (Dissertation)

Tim Hofmann

(Image: László Moholy-Nagy, Photogram, 1922–26)

Against the background of "collapsed codes" (Gumbrecht) and ubiquitous crisis topics, an increased interest in astonishment can be observed in the interwar period, not only in everyday language and journalistic contexts, but also in philosophical writings of the time. The aim of this project is to systematize and contextualize the philosophical discourse of astonishment and related emotions in the interwar period, focusing on the work of Ludwig Wittgenstein, Martin Heidegger, Ernst Bloch and Walter Benjamin. Why is astonishment so appealing to philosophers in this period and in these contexts? In which ways can these philosophies of wonder be understood as reactions to the omnipresent crisis of the interwar period? The project proceeds in four steps. Firstly, a detailed presentation of the specific conceptualizations of astonishment in the work of the four philosophers will be developed in the context of their respective philosophical thinking. Secondly, the text corpora will be brought into dialogue to the long and differentiated tradition of poetological thought of astonishment by means of a rhetorical-stylistic analysis. The assumption here is that amazement is also reflected on a stylistic level – by linguistic depositions and processes of deautomation – so that theory and rhetoric of amazement complement each other. Thirdly, the theorems of amazement will be examined with regard to their ideological implementation, starting from the hypothesis that the formulated concepts of amazement entertain a close relationship to political concepts in the context of the interwar period. Fourthly, it is the aim of the project to show that the theorization of astonishment and related emotions in the philosophers’ works are also associated with practices of self-dramatization as well as an orientation towards a modern economy of attention. 

(Advisors: Prof. Dr. Nicola Gess, Prof. Dr. Meike Baader)


Tim Hofmann, born in Villingen-Schwenningen, studied German Language and Literature, Philosophy, and Political Sciences in Heidelberg and Freiburg. After successfully completing a compulsory educational intership in Singen (Hohentwiel), he attained his Master of Literary Studies degree from the University of Basel in 2017. Whilst engaging in several cultural fields of interest, he also worked as a bookseller and acted as elected board member for the German Bookstore Prize in 2015 and 2016. He has been a member of the doctoral program at the University of Basel since 2017 and is the student representative on its managing board. As a doctoral candidate, he is a member of the SNF Sinergia project The Power of Wonder since May 2018.

Research Topic 2

Order by Admiration

This research topic examines how effects of wonder function in discourses and dispositives of power and order. It analyzes practices that produce admiration, sometimes verging toward awe, overpowerment or even stupefaction, in political and scientific fields. Three levels of observation are crucial to this topic. A first emphasis will lie on the interrelation between the aesthetics and rhetoric of admiration and the establishing of political power. A second emphasis will lie on the interrelation between the aesthetics and rhetoric of admiration and the evaluation and justification of scientists and scientific inventions, particularly technological artifacts. Thirdly, close attention will be paid to the diverse strategies of the economy of attention, our ways of promoting and advertising ideas, products and individuals (particularly in self-fashioning), and their medial, social, economic, artistic and not least linguistic means. At all three levels of observation, a special focus will lie on the ambivalence of admiration that, on the one hand, attracts people enthusiastically to the admired person/institution/object and, on the other hand, makes them feel small and disempowered in front of this unreachable greatness.


Ecologies of Mind and Behavior.
Discovering the Human Psyche in its Environment 1900 – 1960 (Dissertation)

Ole Bogner

This dissertation project aims at bringing together and analyze developments in early psychology that relate to a common theoretical and practical problem for the human being in the twentieth century: being in an environment. Modern psychology evolved out of different and sometimes contradictory scientific paradigms, such as Psychoanalysis, Behaviorism and Gestaltpsychology, each of which provides different answers to questions relating to the human psyche and behavior. Despite putting forward disparate approaches to an understanding of the human being, the role of the environment became a central problem for all these branches of psychology. Taking into account the decentration of subjectivity, this project will explore the question of how cognitive affects were not only involved in, but also shaped the psychological inquiry of this unexplored territory. In which ways did astonishment at the dynamic realities that were found beyond the concept of the superior, rational, and humanistic subject facilitate or even produce these scientific debates? Or did they, on the contrary, provoke narratives of shame and mortification by illustrating the ordinary status of human being? These questions become even more relevant for the era of cybernetics, when the original human properties of thinking and mind were definitely transposed into the technological environment of information processing and computing.

(Advisors: Prof. Dr. Ulrich Bröckling, Prof. Dr. Stefan Kaufmann)


Ole Bogner studied Sociology and Philosophy at the Friedrich Schiller University Jena (B.A.) and holds a Master’s degree in Sociology (from University of Freiburg). In 2016/17, he served as a Scientific Assistant (in the field of sociology of culture) at the University of Freiburg (in proxy) and, from 2017–2018 he was a researcher in the collaborative research project EVADEX at the Centre for Security and Society, University of Freiburg.

Admiration and Overwhelming on the Theatre Stage in the Second Half of the 19th Century (Dissertation)

Benjamin Dinkel

Image: Die “Meiniger”: Antonius an der Leiche des Cäsar, Mass scene in Act III of the Meiningen production of the play Julius Caesar; wood engraving by Johannes Kleinmichel after a drawing by Georg II of Sachsen-Meiningen (Copyright)

This project investigates the various strategies of creating wonder used in stagings of historical dramas in the second half of the 19th century. Wonder is conceived as an aesthetic and political emotion in which both epistemic and sensual components are intertwined. Under the generic term WONDER (STAUNEN), the project subsumes different affects including amazement, wonder, admiration, fascination, overwhelming. For the project, however, the emotions of admiration and overwhelming will be central. The selected dramas will be analyzed regarding the text of the play, their staging(s) in theatre and their reception. In particular, the project will focus on selected productions of the Meininger Hoftheater, performed during the tours in Berlin between 1874 and 1887. Historical dramas experienced a heyday at the end of the 19th century in Germany, especially in Berlin, due to a previously unknown multitude e of staging possibilities. Against this background, the project will examine the development of the performance and staging practice of historical dramas in Berlin before, during and after the Meininger guest performances. In the analysis of the selected plays, attention will be paid to the interrelationship between the production/staging/reception of WONDER and the constitution and representation of power. Central in this context are the conceptions of heroes presented in the selected historical dramas. To what extent are these conceptions produced and staged through strategies of WONDER (admiration dramaturgy, overwhelming aesthetics, fascination, etc.)? And in which ways does WONDER organize the relationship between the presentation of grand individuals and the audience/masses?

(Advisors: Prof. Dr. Nicola Gess, Prof. Dr. Anselm Gerhard)


Benjamin Dinkel studied German Philology and History at the University of Basel and attained his Master's degree in May 2018. From January 2017 to May 2018, he worked as a student assistant to Prof. Dr. Alexander Honold. During his studies, he taught languages and history at various schools. Since June 2018, he is a PhD student in the SNF Sinergia project "The Power of Wonder" under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Nicola Gess.

The Staging of the Self in Early Modern Literature (Dissertation)

Sarah Möller

(Image: Anonymus, “Simplicissimus is being portrayed”, pen and ink drawing, between 1670–1700)

In recent years, historians have shown increased interest in the early modern period, especially the seventeenth century, for its concern with “ego-documents”, personal testimonial, and autobiography. With regard to the history of mind, society, religion and piety, their approaches aim at understanding the transitional period as a prehistory of the modern, autonomous subject. A persistent theme in these research contributions is the textual figure of a living, experiencing, and acting subject. Against this background, it is remarkable that literary texts in a narrower sense have – with few exceptions – been largely excluded from the corpus under consideration. This is all the more surprising since the literature of the seventeenth century is well-known for its sudden and massive outbreak of first-person narratives, such as Grimmelshausen’s ‘Simplicianischen Texten’, the writings of Johann Beer and others. The purpose of the dissertation project is to close said research gap by drawing on methods of literary studies (e.g. ‘close reading’) and by exploring processes of imagination as well as complex forms of self-conceptions. Special attention will be paid to the role of astonishment and admiration since the specific ‘I’ in first-person narratives is often staged by using moments of wonder; be it that the narrating ‘I’ turns into the object of wonder, or that it itself experiences astonishment while perceiving the world. 

(Advisors: Prof. Dr. Mireille Schnyder, Prof. Dr. Rudolf Schlögl)


Sarah Möller recently received a Master’s degree in German Language and Literature and Film Studies. During her studies at the University of Zurich, she worked as a teaching assistant in German Literature. In 2018, she received a semester award for her MA thesis on the imagined artwork (‘Opus-Phantasie’) in Balzac’s novella Le Chef-d’œuvre inconnu and Rivette’s Film La belle noiseuse. She is a member of the doctoral program “Mediality – Historical Perspectives” and her research interests involve aspects of mediality, poetology, and self-staging as well as the relationship between literature and visual arts.

Research Topic 3

Destabilization by surprise

The concept of surprise combines the idea of unexpectedness with that of a trap. To take an opponent by surprise, one has to control information (one’s knowledge, resources and actions are to be concealed) and time (one must outpace the adversary). Here, surprise is not only deployed as a weapon in itself: it reinforces other weapons, and serves as a major tool of discrimination because, once it is completed, it reveals who was best at anticipating and organizing the future. The surprise-maker manages to minimize the unexpectedness that could threaten his or her project, and to maximize the unforeseen for the opponent. Beyond its tactical uses, surprise has turned into an inevitable component of contemporary risk-societies, where the threat of incalculable catastrophes is ubiquitous. Security and ecological policies have to deal with “unknown unknowns” and to prepare for incidents that may occur at every moment but at the same time must be prevented by any means. Surprise is also a widespread aesthetic principle in modern arts, that use irritation, shock and enigma in order to breach familiar habits of perception.



A Genealogy of Dreaming (Dissertation)

Kim Hagedorn

(Image: Drawing of the “Wolfsmann” dream of Sergej Pankejeff, a patient of Sigmund Freud. Published in 1918 by Freud within the framework of his analysis “Aus der Geschichte einer infantilen Neurose”)

Nightly dreaming has been a source of wonder since ancient time. From the time of early modern science, they appear as a doorway into the mechanisms of the human soul, consciousness, and unconsciousness. It is a decisive modern development that dreams become a representation of the subject’s inner truth. As a consequence, the hermeneutics of dreams and many ways to decode them (e.g. Psychoanalysis) go hand in hand with techniques to influence them (e.g. lucid dreaming). However, as dreams become the subject of techniques of manipulation, at the same time, they withdraw from these fantasies of control. To some extent, they resist the rational approach and constitute an unpredictable and ungovernable realm. This interplay between prediction and uncertainty, control and surprise, continuously reinforces moments of wonder and new methods to rationalize the enigma of the nightly dream. The dissertation project will reconstruct genealogically four main plateaus (1720–1790; 1800–1880; 1900–1970; 1970 until today) with a focus on the continuities and discontinuities in scientific and popular discourses as well as practices of dreaming. Methodologically, the project structures the field by three main dimensions: (1) ontologies, (2) the epistemologies of dreaming, and (3) the practices and technologies of the interpretation of dreaming.

(Advisor: Prof. Dr. Ulrich Bröckling)


Kim Hagedorn studied Sociology and Educational Science at the University of Hamburg from 2010–2013 (B. A.) and holds a Master’s degree from the University of Hamburg. She worked as a student assistant for Prof. Dr. Sina Farzin. From 2016–2019 she served as a scientific assistant at University of Freiburg (Cultural Sociology) for Prof. Dr. Ulrich Bröckling. Since summer 2019, she is a PhD student in the Sinergia project “The Power of Wonder”.

Strategies of the Everyday. Surprise in Balzac's Comédie humaine (Dissertation)

Alexandra Delcamp

(Image: Honoré Daumier, “Nous sommes tous d’honnêtes gens, embrassons-nous, et que ça finisse, lithography, 1834)

This research topic focuses on the instrumentalization of surprise in Honoré de Balzac’s La Comédie humaine, from strategy to entropy. Balzac’s work stages a great range of tacticians whose the victims, in most of cases, are condemned to physical or psychical death by a process of exhaustion of energy in which surprise plays a key role. As tactics is an overarching theme in Balzac’s work – military metaphors are extended to numerous areas of social life (Frappier-Mazur 1976) – this research intends to focus first of all on the plots, the manipulations and the stratagems used by Balzac’s characters to surprise their victim and reach their goal. By paying close attention to the causes of exhaustion of energy in La Comédie humaine, one could notice that this dialogic order/disorder is systematically involved: the more disorder expands in the story, the more characters come closer to the irreversible exhaustion of their own energy (they die or go mad). As far as narratology is concerned, this research will focus on the ambivalence between predictability and unpredictability that surprise involves. Finally, since the author of La Comédie humaine adopts a medical approach of surprise (or at least physiological) that clearly appears in many digressions, and which is conceived as an energy expenditure, this research will rely on this fact to compare Balzac’s medical approach of the use of surprise – and the relation between order and disorder, human nature and action –, with his military approach.

(Advisors: Prof. Dr. Hugues Marchal, Prof. Dr. Caroline Arni)


Alexandra Delcamp is a researcher, translator, columnist and journalist. She studied at the University of Perpignan and the Paul Valéry University in Montpellier (France) and holds a Master's degree in Humanities (French Literature, Latin and Ancient Greek) as well as in Foreign Languages, Translation Studies and Modern Greek. In 2015, she also received a diploma in Modern Greek Language from Kapodistriako University in Athens (Greece). Since May 2018, she is a doctoral student in the SNF Signergia research project "The Power of Wonder" at the French Department of the University of Basel.


Principal Investigators

Prof. Dr. Mireille Schnyder, German Department, University of Zurich
Prof. Dr. Nicola Gess, German Department, University of Basel
Prof. Dr. Hugues Marchal, French Department, University of Basel
Prof. Dr. Ulrich Bröckling, Institute of Sociology, University of Freiburg

Associated Academics

Prof. Dr. Caroline Arni                       
Prof. Dr. Meike Sophia Baader
Prof. Dr. Anselm Gerhard
Prof. Dr. Stefan Kaufmann
Dr. Anita Müller
Prof. Dr. Rudolf Schlögl
Prof. Dr. Philip Ursprung

Doctoral Students

Ole Bogner, Institute of Sociology, University of Freiburg
Alexandra Delcamp, French Department, University of Basel
Benjamin Dinkel, German Department, University of Basel
Henrike Gätjens, German Department, University of Zurich
Kim Vanessa Hagedorn, Institute of Sociology, University of Freiburg
Tim Hofmann, German Department, University of Basel
Sarah Möller, German Department, University of Zurich

Postdoctoral Researcher and Coordinator

Dr. Daniela Hahn, German Department, University of Zurich

Student Assistents

Ella Imgrüth (University of Basel)
Rahel Kleger (University of Zurich)
Kaspar Walser (University of Zurich)

Publication Series

Poetik und Ästhetik des Staunens
with Wilhelm Fink Publishers



Nicola Gess, Mireille
Schnyder, Hugues
Marchal, Johannes
Bartuschat (eds.)

Poetiken des Staunens

Narratologische und

>> zum Buch

Reinhard M. Möller

Situationen des Fremden

Ästhetik und Reiseliteratur im späten 18. Jahrhundert

» zum Buch

Nicola Gess, Mireille Schnyder, Hugues Marchal, Johannes Bartuschat (eds.)

Staunen als Grenzphänomen

» zum Buch

Staunen Buch 1.png

Natscha Adamowsky, Nicola Gess, Mireille Schnyder, Hugues Marchal, Johannes Bartuschat (eds.)

Archäologie der Spezialeffekte

» zum Buch


Natascha Adamowsky

Ozeanische Wunder

Entdeckung und Eroberung des Meeres in der Moderne

» zum Buch


Selected Publications


Ulrich Bröckling

  • Gute Hirten führen sanft. Über Menschenregierungskünste, Berlin: Suhrkamp Verlag 2017 (2nd ed. 2017).

  • Das unternehmerische Selbst. Soziologie einer Subjektivierungsform, Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp Verlag 2007 (6th ed. 2016).

  • Das Andere der Ordnung. Theorien des Exzeptionellen, co-ed. with Christian Dries, Matthias Leanza, and Tobias Schlechtriemen, Weilerswist: Velbrück 2015.

  • Out of Order – Soziologie jenseits des Ordnungsbias. Skizze eines Forschungsprogramms, in: Michael Schetsche u. Ina Schmied-Knittel (Hg.), Heterodoxie. Konzepte, Traditionen, Figuren der Abweichung, Köln: Herbert von Halem Verlag 2018, pp. 255-270 (together with Christian Dries, Matthias Leanza, and Tobias Schlechtriemen).

  • Zukunftsmanagement zwischen Planung, Selbstorganisation und Prävention, in: Ariane Leendertz and Wencke Meteling (eds.), Die neue Wirklichkeit. Semantische Neuvermessungen und Politik seit den 1970er Jahren, Frankfurt am Main: Campus Verlag 2016,
    pp. 269-280.

  • Das Andere der Ordnung denken. Eine Perspektivverschiebung (together with Christian Dries, Matthias Leanza u. Tobias Schlechtriemen), in: Das Andere der Ordnung. Theorien des Exzeptionellen, co-ed. with Christian Dries, Matthias Leanza, and Tobias Schlechtriemen, Weilerswist: Velbrück 2015, pp. 9-52.


Nicola Gess

  • Staunen. Eine Poetik. Göttingen: Wallstein 2019.

  • Ästhetik des Spektakels. Barockoper revisited, in: Simon Frisch, Elisabeth Fritz, and Rita Rieger (eds.), Spektakel als ästhetische Kategorie. Theorien und Praktiken, Paderborn: Wilhelm Fink 2018, pp. 155-178.

  • Troubled Resemblances. Portrait and Poetics in Breitinger's Critische Dichtkunst, Wieland's Don Sylvio, Burke's Enquiry and Radcliffe's Castle of Udolpho, in: Modern Language Notes 132.5 (2017), pp. 1277-1300. (PDF)

  • Instruments of Wonder – Wondrous Instruments. Optical Devices in the Poetics of the Marvelous of Fontenelle, Rist, Breitinger, and Hoffmann, in: The German Quarterly 90.4 (2017), pp. 407-422. (PDF)

  • "L'opéra est un spectacle" (Voltaire): Zur Intermedialität der tragédie en musique, in: Jörg Robert (ed.), Intermedialität in der frühen Neuzeit. Formen, Funktionen, Konzepte, Berlin: de Gruyter 2017, pp. 95-116.

  • Die Optik des Wunderbaren. Fernrohr, Prisma und Spiegel als Metaphern poetologischer Selbstreflexion, in: Beate Ochsner and Robert Stock (eds.), SenseAbility. Mediale Praktiken des Sehens und Hörens, Bielefeld: Transcript 2016, pp. 19-44. (PDF)

  • Poetiken des Staunens im frühen 20. Jahrhundert. Brecht, Sklovskij, Benjamin, ihre Theorien der Verfremdung und ein Ausgang von Descartes, in: Susanne Knaller and Rita Rieger (eds.), Ästhetische Emotion. Formen und Figurationen zur Zeit des Umbruchs der Medien und Gattungen (1900-1930), Heidelberg: Universitätsverlag Winter 2016, pp. 25-57.

  • "Staunen/Verwunderung", in: Martin von Koppenfels and Cornelia Zumbusch (eds.), Literatur und Emotion, Berlin: de Gruyter 2016, pp. 19-44. (PDF)

  • Barocktheater als Spektakel. Eine Einführung (together with Tina Hartmann), in: Barocktheater als Spektakel. Maschine, Blick und Bewegung auf der Opernbühne des Ancien Regime, co-ed. with Tina Hartmann and Dominika Hens, München 2015, pp. 9-40.

  • Don Sylvio und der Kleine Baedeker. Zur Wiederkehr einer Poetik des Wunderbaren in Felicitas Hoppes "Paradiese, Übersee", in: Text + Kritik. Zeitschrift für Literatur: Felicitas Hoppe, München 2015, pp. 25-34.

  • Vortheoretische Affekte. Staunen als ästhetische Emotion zwischen Genuss und Erkenntnis, in: Oliver Jahraus and Mario Grizelj (eds.), Vor der Theorie. Immersion - Materialität - Intensität, Würzburg: Königshausen und Neumann 2014, pp. 325-336.

  • Staunen als ästhetische Emotion. Zu einer Affektpoetik des Wunderbaren, in: Martin Baisch, Andreas Degen and Jana Lüdtke (eds.), Wie gebannt. Ästhetische Verfahren der affektiven Bindung von Aufmerksamkeit, Freiburg: Rombach 2013, pp. 115-132.

  • Oper des Monströsen - Monströse Oper. Zur Metapher des Monströsen in der französischen Opernästhetik des 18. Jahrhunderts, in: Georg Mein and Achim Geisenhanslüke (eds.), Monströse Ordnungen und Schwellenfiguren. Literalität und Liminalität III, Bielefeld: Transcript 2009, pp. 655-667.

  • "Wunderbare Beleuchtung". Zur Poetik des Wunderbaren bei Joseph von Eichendorff, in: Jahrbuch des Freien Deutschen Hochstifts 2008, S. 265-289.

  • Musique deguisée. Jean-Jacques Rousseau und das merveilleux der Barockoper, in: Barocktheater heute. Wiederentdeckungen zwischen Wissenschaft und Bühne, co-ed. with Tina Hartmann and Robert Sollich, Bielefeld: Transcript 2008, pp. 145-151.


Hugues Marchal

  • Changement d'orbite: L'Astronomie de Daru et la collaboration de la poésie et des sciences, in: Orages. Littérature et culture 1760-1830 13 (2014), pp. 56-71.

  • La Poésie scientifique, de la gloire au déclin, co-ed. with Muriel Louâpre and Michel Pierssens, Epistémocritique, littérature et
    savoirs, 2014. (PDF)

  • La Poésie de la science, de Chénier à Rimbaud (ed.), Paris: Seuil 2013.

  • Poésie scientifique (together with Philippe Chométy), in: Alain Montandon and Saulo Neiva (eds.), Dictionnaire raisonné de la caducité des genres littéraires, Genève: Droz 2014, pp. 661-682.

  • Sciences, mystères, cercles: topologie du connaissable dans Le Livre mystique, in: L'Année balzacienne 14 (2013), pp. 23-39.

  • Des monuments d'impermanence: postérité scientifique et vers reliques, in: Textes, Littérature, Enseignement 26 (2009), pp. 27-43.

  • L'ambassadeur révoqué: poésie scientifique et diffusion des savoirs au 19e siècle, in: Romantisme 144 (2009), pp. 25-37.

  • La Poésie, Paris: Flammarion 2007 (new edition 2012).

In Preparation:

  • "Les sciences peuvent avoir quelques obligations à la poésie": Jacques Delille et l'institution savante, in: Francofonia (2014)

  • L'histoire d'une histoire: reprise, diffusion et abandon d'une découverte botanique et poétique, in: A.G. Weber (Hg.), Belles Lettres, science et littérature.

  • L'histoire d'une histoire: reprise, diffusion et abandon d'une découverte botanique et poétique, in: A.G. Weber (Hg.), Belles Lettres, science et littérature.

  • Delille plastique, in: Ph. Auserve (Hg.), Delille l'oublié.

  • Sully Prudhomme ou le lyrisme de la perte des repères, in H. Hufnagel und O. Kraemer (Hg.), Das Wissen der Poesie. Lyrische und epische Versdichtung und die Wissenschaften im 19. Jahrhundert.

  • "Et Linné sur la terre et Newton dans les cieux, D'une pareille audace étonnèrent les dieux": poésie scientifique et histoire des sciences entre 1780 et 1820, in: A. Gaillard (Hg.), Les Phrases de la science.


Mireille Schnyder

  • Obskur, monströs und wahnsinnig. Der Text des Koran und seine Figurationen im westlichen Mittelalter, in: Susanne Köbele (ed.), wildekeit. Spielräume literarischer obscuritas im Mittelalter (Wolfram-Studien 25), Berlin: Erich Schmidt 2018 (in print).

  • Der verkehrte Blick: Staunen, Erkenntnis und Imagination, in: Udo Friedrich, Ulrich Hoffmann, and Bruno Quast (eds.), Anthropologie der Kehre. Figuren der Wende in der Literatur des Mittelalters und der Frühen Neuzeit, Berlin 2018 (in print).

  • Schleswig 1654. Ein Perser in Deutschland, in: Christian Kiening and Martina Stercken (eds.), Medialität. Historische Konstellationen, Zurich 2018 (in print).

  • Vorwort, in: Poetiken des Staunens (Poetik und Ästhetik des Staunens 5), co-ed. with Nicola Gess, Hugues Marchal, and Johannes Bartuschat, Paderborn: Wilhelm Fink 2018 (in preparation).

  • Übersetzung als Gespräch. Der Persianische Rosenthal, in: Kirsten Baumann, Constanze Köstler, and Uta Kuhl (eds.), Adam Olearius. Neugier als Methode, Petersberg: Michael Imhof-Verlag 2017, pp. 152-158.

  • Staunen und conversio, in: Julia Weitbrecht, Werner Röcke, and Ruth v. Bernuth (eds.): Zwischen Ereignis und Erzählung. Konversion als Medium der Selbstbeschreibung in Mittelalter und Früher Neuzeit (Transformationen der Antike 39), Berlin/Boston: de Gruyter 2016, pp. 169-185.

  • Das Wunderpreisungsspiel. Zur Poetik von Catharina Regina von Greiffenberg (1633-1694) (ed., with the cooperation of Damaris Leimgruber), Philologie der Kultur, Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann 2015.

  • Meine Bloedheit irrt mich nicht. Ich- und Körper-Inszenierungen in den Texten von Catharina Regina von Greiffenberg, in: Das Wunderpreisungsspiel. Zur Poetik von Catharina Regina von Greiffenberg (1633-1694), (ed., with the cooperation of Damaris Leimgruber), Philologie der Kultur, Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann 2015, pp. 93-111.

  • Vorwort, in: Das Wunderpreisungsspiel. Zur Poetik von Catharina Regina von Greiffenberg (1633-1694), (ed., with the cooperation of Damaris Leimgruber), Philologie der Kultur, Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann 2015, pp. 7-22.

  • Der vierte Sohn Noahs und die Magie der Künste, in: Peter-André Alt, Jutta Eming, Tilo Renz and Volkhard Wels (eds.), Magia daemoniaca, magia naturalis, zouber. Schreibweisen von Magie und Alchemie in Mittelalter und Früher Neuzeit, Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz 2015, pp. 57-73 and pp. 441-443.

  • Isoldes Stimme, in: Germanistik in der Schweiz (2014), pp. 24-30.

  • Heidnisches Können in christlicher Kunst, in: Susanne Köbele and Bruno Quast (eds.), Literarische Säkularisierung im Mittelalter (Literatur, Theorie, Geschichte. Beiträge zu einer kulturwissenschaftlichen Mediävistik 4), Berlin: de Gruyter 2013, pp. 159-173.

  • Überlegungen zu einer Poetik des Staunens, in: Martin Baisch, Andreas Degen, and Jana Lüdtke (eds.): Wie gebannt. Ästhetische Verfahren der affektiven Bindung von Aufmerksamkeit, Freiburg i.Br.: Rombach 2013, pp. 95-114.

  • Die Verfügbarkeit des Teufels und die Kunst, in: Paragrana. Internationale Zeitschrift für Historische Anthropologie 21.2 (2012): UnVerfügbarkeit, ed. by Ingrid Kasten, Berlin 2012, pp. 47-59.

  • Minnesang, in: Cornelia Herberichs and Christian Kiening (eds.): Literarische Performativität. Lektüren vormoderner Texte, Zürich: Chronos 2008, pp. 121-136.

  • Kunst der Vergegenwärtigung und gefährliche Präsenz. Zum Verhältnis von religiösen und weltlichen Lesekonzepten, in: Peter Strohschneider (ed.): Literarische und religiöse Kommunikation in Mittelalter und Früher Neuzeit, Berlin/New York: de Gruyter 2009, pp. 427-452.

  • Der unfeste Text. Mittelalterliche "Audiovisualität", in: Barbara Sabel and André Bucher (eds.): Der unfeste Text. Perspektiven auf einen literatur- und kulturwissenschaftlichen Leitbegriff, Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann 2001, pp. 132-153.

  • Die Einsamkeit im Liebesblick. Zur deutschen und persischen Liebeslyrik des 17. Jahrhunderts, in: Deutsche Vierteljahresschrift für Literaturwissenschaft und Geistesgeschichte 70 (1996), pp. 369-393.

  • Über die passionierte Lust des Voyeurs. Anmerkungen zu Julien Greens Roman "Le Visionnaire", in: Germanisch-Romanische Monatsschrift 45 (1995), pp. 349-354.



  • Nicola Gess: Strategien der Verbesonderung. Zur Bewunderung des Kleinen in der Literatur des 18. Jahrhunderts. Presentation in the framework of the conference “Außeralltäglichkeit ohne Größe? Besonderheit, Exemplarität und Heroisierungen in „kleinen Formen“ des Literarischen und Visuellen” at the Research Center “Heroes – Heroizations – Heroisms”, October 19, 2018.

  • Nicola Gess: Ästhetik des Staunens (Neubad-Lecture, Luzern), June 21st, 2018.

  • Nicola Gess: Stören und Staunen. Zu Poetiken der Verfremdung bei Breitinger und Sklovskij. Presentation in the framework of the conference "Zur Rolle von Irritation und Staunen im Rahmen (literar-)ästhetischer Erfahrung: Theoretische Perspektiven, empiriebasierte Beobachtungen und praktische Implikationen" at the Pädagogische Hochschule Weingarten, March 16th, 2018.

  • Mireille Schnyder: Abenteuer: die Suche nach Literatur. Presentation in the framework of the opening workshop "Abenteuer und Gattungspoetik" of the research group "Philologie des Abenteuers", Munich, June 22nd, 2018.

  • Mireille Schnyder: Zukunft: Entscheiden. ûf âventiure wân. Presentation in the framework of the conference "Zukunft/Entscheiden. Entwürfe in der Literatur des Mittelalters" at Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, June 14th, 2018.

  • Mireille Schnyder: Liebes(t)räume im 17. Jahrhundert. Presentation in the framework of the workshop "Raum – Medialität – Zeit III" on the occasion of the inauguration of the "Zentrum für Historische Medialität" at University of Zurich, March 16th, 2018.



  • Wahn, Witz und Wirklichkeit. Poetik und Episteme des Wahns vor 1800 (organized by Mireille Schnyder and Nina Nowakowski), November 1–3, 2018, University of Zurich.


Dr. Daniela Hahn
Universität Zürich
Deutsches Seminar
Schönberggasse 2
CH-8001 Zürich

Tel.: +41 (0)44 634 57 21


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