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Research Programme

Subject, Tasks and Goals

For a long time, fine arts studies have led a solitary life. Whether Musicology or Theatre Studies, Art History, Literature or Film Studies, each discipline clearly defined itself against the others by its specific subject and its respective methodology and theoretical approaches. In the last fifty years, however, a tendency to undermine the boundaries between the traditional fine arts studies can be observed in all the arts. Two developments are particularly responsible for this, first, the increasing dissolution of boundaries between different art forms through performativity, hybridization and multimedia and, second, the aestheticization of everyday life – the crossing of boundaries between art and non-art such as politics, economy, new media, sports, religion and everyday practices. Both tendencies transform fine arts studies in regard to their respective subjects of research and challenge their methodology and theoretical approaches. 

Main Research Areas and Fields of Activity

This new reality provides the starting point for the International Research Training Group 'InterArt / Interart Studies'. It has been funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) since October 1, 2006 and is conducted jointly by art historians of Freie Universität Berlin and Copenhagen Doctoral School.

Engaging in works of art and events from a variety of periods, the Research Group aims to devise new methodological approaches to emerging interart phenomena. At the same time, it serves the creation of new aesthetic categories which might adequately describe the tendency towards multimedialization, hybridization and performativization. The long-term goal is the creation of a new theory referring to different types of interart phenomena that cannot be grasped by a single discipline within fine arts studies alone.

For this reason, the International Research Training Group focuses on a methodological-theoretical problem. Exploring diverse Interart phenomena from different periods, each doctoral thesis is a vital component for the development of new methods and their respective theories. Since the problems that emerge during research are anything but mere artistic problems, doctoral candidates in fine arts studies and cultural theory, respectively historical anthropology, work alongside each other. These debates about intermediality and intertextuality within cultural studies should reflect their interconnection.


In the longer term, the International Research Training Group undertakes to inspire new approaches towards a re-structuring of the participating disciplines in fine arts studies. The aim, however, is not to merge everything into visual studies or even media studies, instead this re-structuring shall enable fine arts studies to deal with the current situation of art, reflecting the change of cultural conditions. Because this can hardly be achieved by a single discipline, Interart Studies – interconnecting all disciplines of fine arts studies are needed. In addition, we expect that Interart Studies might open new perspectives on art works from the past.        

The interdisciplinary approach of the International Research Group thus takes the current changes in cultural and fine arts studies into account and explores new ways of research in the participating fields. In this respect, it is particularly relevant to the young generation of scholars. At the same time, interdisciplinary qualifications are obtained through team work, communication with scholars of other disciplines and through the presentation of research results. Moreover, the exploration of interart phenomena creates new perspectives on numerous everyday, cultural and political developments. These insights apply not only to a professional, academic career but also to the field of cultural industry.

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft