Jörg Dünne Former Senior Fellow

Jörg Dünne
October 2011 - March 2012


Jörg Dünne, born 1969 is Professor of Romance Literature at the University of Erfurt since 2009. He studied comparative literature, romance literature, and philosophy in Munich and Paris. After graduating at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich in 1994, he enrolled in a PhD-program in French literature at the University of Kiel where he received his PhD in 2000, (subject: Asketisches Schreiben: Rousseau und Flaubert als Paradigmen literarischer Selbstpraxis in der Moderne). In July 2008, Dünne completed his habilitation on "cartographic imagination", at the LMU Munich. Dünne has been working as a research lecturer at the Institutes for Romance studies of LMU Munich and CAU Kiel from 1996 to 2008. Jörg Dünne is DAAD commission member and expert, coeditor of the website » romanistik.de and has initiated an interdisciplinary work group on Körper – Raum – Medium in 2002.

Dated from 2012

Fields of research

Cartography and Literature ; early modern travel literature; concepts of space; literary and cinematographic mediality; the constitution of subjectivity in writing processes; history of epistemology; 20th Latin American narrators; contemporary Hispanic cinema; modern French and Portuguese literature (Rousseau, Flaubert, Céline, Pessoa).

IKKM Research Project

The project addresses the annual IKKM topic, “localization”, for the year 2011/12 by taking the question of the “Ascription of Places” literally: it examines the way constitution of space is related to writing from the perspective of cultural techniques. More precisely, it will focus on the question of what forms of prescription of movement writing makes possible. Writing will therefore not be considered principally as a re-presentation of movement in space, but more as a dispositif that prescribes movement and thus actually accomplishes the ascription of places.

Focussing on the question in this way requires an understanding of writing an an operationalizing cultural technique that implies the use of alphabetical writing, but which extends beyond it. Writing will be considered principally as prescriptive – or as Vilem Flusser put it – as “script”, and therefore as a gesture that prescribes actions by relating them to places as well as to a spatial frame in which the actions are to take place. The dominant semiotic regime of the movement script is therefore not the symbolic description of places by means of alphabetical writing, and is also not the iconic depiction of spatial relations: what is decisive is the indexical relationship that connects human beings with places through their actions while, however, employing, as a rule, both symbolic and iconic signs. In this study of movement scripts it is nevertheless not so much a question of a semiotic typology as of the development of a “writing act theory” which allows for places to be constituted.

With regard to the understandig of spatiality implied here, such an operational conception of writing, which is linked to cultural anthropologists’ inquiry into actor networks, appears to be a way out of the dilemma in the current debate on space in cultural theory: this debate seems to be stuck between the assumption of a social constructivism of space which conceives of space as only a readable web of meanings, and the geo-political fascination with the power of territoriality, which, from this point of view, more or less determines any semiotic process. In both cases, the dynamic relationship between objects, human beings and signs, established by means of spatial scripts, as the Actor Network Theory analizes it, goes by the board.

In the history of media the question of prescribing movement by the means of spatial scripts is closely associated with the history of cartography, but is not identical with it, when, following Michel de Certeau, the spatial practice of the “tour” (parcours), which ascribes places, is distinguished from that of the “map” (carte) which determines positions in a referential space. One could, however, get the impression when reading Certeau as if a parcours might lead to a spontaneous unprogramable constitution of a place that opposes the controled cartographic reacord of a position. In contrast, it is exactly the writing-based possibilities of recording and prescribing an individual parcours that will be investigated here and that do not coincide from the outset with the totalization in the map as a medium, but for that reason are no less associated with questions of power and control.

Movement scripts can be investigated from various points of view and with differing aims – object-related, as regards spaces and places constituted through movement (1); human beingrelated, as regards the thus implied body techniques (2); and finally, sign-related, as regards the semiotic processes that they trigger in media and media clusters (3)

1) Movement prescription as a form of spatial appropriation has developed primarily in various constellations since the late Middle Ages, with movement prescription on land and water having to be distinguished from each other. It is especially movement in the "smooth"(lisse) space of the sea that requires the working out of movement prescription techniques – the example here is the investigation of the prototype of all spatial scripts: the rutter (‘route-book’). In the already “striated” (strié) terrestrial space it is first of all pilgrim guidebooks, the predecessors of modern travel guides, that organize movement through space, or that first determine locations as such. Prescriptive behaviour instructions, in a narrow sense, interact in the majority of spatial scripts with other written forms, or forms of visualization, for example, with logbooks, on-board diaries and travel accounts as well as with maps, as archives of the already travelled and possible space for future parcours.

2) Movement scripts also allow the investigation of what they do with the involved bodies, either in a collective group or individually. Scripts that arrange collective bodies can, for example, be found in the temporary architectures of of the baroque festival culture as well as in military prescriptions for exercise. Scripts that regulate the aesthetic or sportive movement of individual bodies have developed, one can assume, especially in modernity. Choreography in dance, as well as route descriptions in free-climbing, so-called “topos”,can be considered as examples to be studied in this case. Following the studies of body techniques by Marcel Mauss and other anthropologists, what is to be investigated here in particular, is the conditioning of the body as a tool for unusual forms of movement that are aimed at technologizing the body itself.

3) Finally, spatial scripts also lead to intra/intermedial semiotic dynamics, which have previously been studied more as by-products than as central articulation points of a media dispositif. What is paradigmatic here is what, in the analysis of drama from a philological perspective, is typically designated as the “secondary text”: Contrary to the “primary texts” that accounts for the lingustic communication between the dramatic persons, is is on this ‘secondary’ level that the performative dimension of a play as a hole, including stage space, is organized. Further analysis could be dedicated, for example, to film storyboards or screenplays, which regulate the totality of the film space as the interaction of the pre-filmic set and the filmic work of the camera. Spatial scripts thus permit a rethinking of how design, performance and written record are connected in the aesthetic use of media – a topic that could be expanded to include literary writing and its textual genetics.

Against the background of the field of research outlined here, it appears to be more than a mere accident that in the language of the most important seafaring nation of the early modern age rutters are described with the same expression as screenplays nowadays, namely: roteiros. The present project can be considered, as the motto citation suggests, as an unfolding of the many cultural technique implications of this one single expression from the Portuguese language.