Springe direkt zu Inhalt

Thorsten Gabler

E-Mail:gabler [at] schriftbildlichkeit.de


Ph.D. Project

»Studies in the Materiality and Aesthetics of Written Communication 1799-1898 (von Arnim/Brentano; Fontane)«



Over the last few decades, contemporary German Literary Studies have addressed the materiality of its objects of study. Present theoretical approaches opened new systematic focuses, e.g. the critique génétique (Grésillon), semiotic and cultural studies (Barthes, Flusser) as well as current philosophy of the media (Krämer, Mersch); hence, priority is given to ›aisthetical‹ aspects which have thus far been disregarded and ignored by German philology.

Due to the nascent interest in material-dependent aspects of traditional manuscripts and typoscripts, the status of epistolary autographs needs to be redefined as well: what matters with regard to the exchange of letters is from now on not only the meaning of the words but also the material substrate of the written letter itself.

The consequences of this approach are clear: if letters, apart from their textual message, possess aesthetic dimensions originating in the notational iconicity of specific handwritings, they can only be “read,” in the emphatic sense of the word, as long as they are perceived as manuscripts: that is, with the eyes upon the different types of paper, the various traces made by the quills in highly individual topographical arrangements. 

The aim of my doctoral project is to discuss the letter in its specific material and aesthetic aspects, on the examples of Achim von Arnim’s and Bettine Brentano’s (love-letter) correspondence (1799-1831) and Theodor Fontane’s enormous epistolary oeuvre (1846-1898) – two bundles of letters which deal with their own conditions and capabilities as media in a highly self-reflexive manner. My study reflects the importance of the material phenomena in postal correspondences as well as their different semiotic effects.



Curriculum Vitae

since 10/2011

Doctoral fellow at the DFG Research Training Group »›Notational Iconicity‹: On the materiality, perceptibility and operativity of writing« at the Freie Universität Berlin. (Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Gabriele Brandstetter).


Research fellow and lecturer at the ›Institut für deutsche Literatur und deren Didaktik‹, Goethe-University Frankfurt a. M. (Chair: Prof. Dr. Waltraud Wiethölter)


State Examination (›Lehramt an Gymnasien‹), thesis on questions of rhetoric and aesthetics in a letter by Kleist (summa cum laude)


Graecum (Qualification in Ancient Greek)


Fellowship holder by the German National Academic Foundation


Student assistent and tutor at the ›Institut für deutsche Literatur und deren Didaktik‹, Goethe-University Frankfurt a. M.


Studies in German Literatur (major), History (major), Political Sciences (minor) and Educational Psychology (minor), Goe­the-University Frankfurt a. M.



Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft