RU 1120, Subproject: Documents of Madness: Fabrication and Querulation in Literature and Psychiatry

  • Borck, Cornelius (Principal Investigator (PI))
  • Schäfer , Armin (Principal Investigator (PI))

Project: DFG ProjectsDFG Joint Research: Research Units/ Clinical Research Units

Project Details


The project proposed here examines, on the basis of first-person documents, literary and psychiatric texts written between 1870 and 1930, how fabulation and querulation were established, differentiated, criticized, and finally discarded again as two categories of madness.
In a first step, it will be shown that fabulation and querulism follow independent rules, regularities, and principles whose inherent logic can be traced back to medial preconditions, the process of writing itself, and cultural factors. In a second step, it will be reconstructed which transformations literature and psychiatry have undergone in their engagement with fabulating and querulating: For this purpose, both the genesis and practice of a fabulating mode of writing in literature and the changes in the discourse and practices of psychiatry will be traced. In a third step, the relevance of the subject area for a theory of modernity will be demonstrated: In fabulating and querulating, psychiatry encountered the obstacle that it itself helped to produce the phenomena it explored, and in this respect required second-order observations and a conceptualization of systemic processes. While psychiatry encountered a problem with fabulation and querulation that it was not able to solve, new developments in literature and the sciences were triggered by fabulation: On the one hand, literature developed a specifically modern narrative style with fabulation, which invalidated a schematic distinction between fiction and reality; on the other hand, psychology gained a new understanding of the relation of language to reality in the study of fabulation.
Effective start/end date01.01.1201.01.16

Collaborative partners

  • Ruhr-University Bochum (Joint applicant, Co-PI)

Research Areas and Centers

  • Research Area: Center for Cultural Studies (ZKFL)

DFG Research Classification Scheme

  • 102-4 History of Science


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