Literature as Knowledge for Living, Literary Studies as Science for Living

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Thesis-Paper for Ottmar Ette’s Literature as knowledge for Living, Literary Studies as Science for Living

According to Vera M. Kutzinski in his introduction, Ottmar Ette was sent to the east of Germany after the reunification of Germany to strengthen academic institutions. There, universities were going to receive the so-called “Initiative for Excellence”, which would make German universities more competitive. But, when it came to application, a little percentage of humanities institutions were selected, because the focus was actually on science and technology. This fact was what fueled Ette to take a turn on his work and started to work on not trying to convince why literary studies were better or worth more attention or research, but to make skeptical see why society cannot do without literary studies. Ette’s official work on this matter is titled Lendemains, where he focuses on literary studies as something that society needs to survive and the relations established between human beings in literary terms. Below is presented a short review on his evaluation on this matter.

Ette argues that literature and language do not seem to deal with language about life any longer. Instead, scientific and technological academic fields have taken over. So what has to be done for the humanities to deal with life again would be, according to him, reorientating the idea of life, which should be based on making society see how the humanities can improve how human beings live with one another, and this should be done together with the biosciences, creating an easily understandable language which allowed scientific and literary discourses to work together as equals.

Ette also discusses how biotechnology and natural-scientific fields of study have become the “sciences of life” because it has been socially accepted, since their subjects of study have to do with life. And also how literary scholars do not pay attention to the humanities losing ground on this respect....
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