Recently, cultural studies has begun to pay more attention to architecture— the “mother” of the arts, according to antiquity—and its social functions. Analyzed with regard to its cultural, economic, social, and political implications, architecture is acquiring a new significance as a comprehensive social force.

The main goal of the Emmy Noether Research Group “Bauformen der Imagination. Literature and Architecture in Modernity” is to apply this expanding view of architecture to literary studies. Our research object is to elucidate the interconnections between architectural principles and literary practices, for neither the historical nor the systematic relationship between the two arts has yet been substantially investigated. This is all the more astonishing when one considers the frequent appearance of architecture in literary texts, not only as motif and setting, but also as constructive element.

Using exemplary case studies, we seek to illuminate the history of literary references to architecture since the eighteenth century. We mainly attempt to establish a set of methodological approaches enabling a more precise depiction of the various levels of interactions between architecture and literature, addressing the following questions: How is architecture treated and represented in fiction, and what formal, aesthetic, narrative, and epistemic significance do these representations have? What concrete functions do specific architectonic elements (such as staircase, window, balcony, door, and corridor) fulfill? How do references to principles of spatial construction influence the formation of the subject in literary texts? What types of interrelation between architectural and poetological designs can we identify in narrative texts?