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Collaborative Research Centre 948 | "Heroes – Heroizations – Heroisms: Transformations and Conjunctures from Antiquity to the Modern Day"

Research Objectives

SFB 948 “Heroes – Heroizations – Heroisms” studies the heroic from antiquity to the present day from a transdisciplinary, cultural, historical and social perspective. The SFB is particularly interested in the social orders that heroic figures at once stabilize and simultaneously call into question, and examines why and how heroines and heroes have so persistently served as figures upon which communities can focus their self-understanding.

In the first two funding periods of the SFB, 34 case studies investigated heroizations and heroisms in specific epochs, spaces, political-social constellations and media – from Greco-Roman antiquity to the present day, and across Europe, European-influenced spaces, the Middle East and China. In an interdisciplinary endeavour, the SFB has developed theoretical and historical concepts of the heroic, and investigated how the heroic is linked to fundamental realms of experience and cultural practices, such as violence, sacrality and religion; death, globalization and gender hierarchies; as well as work, sport and art. In the second funding period, the online encyclopaedia Compendium heroicum was established as a reference work for phenomena of the heroic.

Based on the results to date, the SFB’s third funding period has been specifically designed as its concluding period. This means that this third funding period will deepen the interdisciplinarity within the individual project groups (1), while also aiming to synthesize the content of the studies from the first two funding periods (2). In addition to exploring the heroic itself, the SFB aims to employ the heroic as an analytical category for cultural and social history (3). Four fields of research are particularly promising for this change in perspective, and constitute the four project groups in the concluding funding period: “Transformation, disruption, and reinterpretations of the past” (S1), “Personalization: Subjectification and Authority” (S2), “Masculinities” (S3), and “Aesthetics of Affect” (S4). This orientation towards the explanatory potential of the heroic will allow the SFB to better connect with other research in the social sciences and humanities. This connection is further strengthened by cooperation with other collaborative research projects that have a particular affinity to the four topics above.

In order to have a lasting impact on current research, and in addition to the project groups’ book publications, the SFB will develop further publication avenues (4). Compendium heroicum (H) will be completed in the final funding period, and a newly established online portal will collect and present all the SFB’s research (INF). Recently, the heroic has been receiving increased, and sometimes controversial, public attention. Hence, the SFB has recognised a potential to intensify its knowledge transfer (5): an exhibition project will present the research results and perspectives in a museum context (T), and teaching modules for schools will be developed (Ö), reaching audiences beyond the university.

In this third funding period, the SFB will continue its transdisciplinary work, uniting the studies of history, literature, visual arts, Islamic studies, sinology, sociology and theology, and, now, also philosophy. For its completion, the SFB is joined by the University Library (in INF) and the Freiburg Advanced Center of Education (FACE) at the University of Freiburg (in Ö), and is presenting its exhibition (T) in cooperation with the Bundeswehr Centre for Military History and Social Sciences (ZMSBw).

Beyond its research programme, the SFB is pursuing two fundamental goals in this final period. Firstly, the SFB aims to demonstrate innovative ways in which transdisciplinary research in the humanities can be brought to a sustainable conclusion, and how this research can provide instruments for scholarship. Secondly, the SFB aims to prove how research on current, relevant topics in the humanities can be visible, impactful and transferable.