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ERC Consolidator Grants awarded to Eva von Contzen

FRIAS Fellow Prof. Dr. Eva von Contzen has received a grant of 2 million euros from the European Research Council (ERC). The ERC is funding von Contzen's research projects on retellings in English literature.
ERC Consolidator Grants awarded to Eva von Contzen

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“Retellings,” i.e. retellings of ancient or medieval material such as The Iliad and Beowulf, are currently experiencing a boom in English-language literature. In her project “Retelling and Repetition: Towards a Literary History of Derivation” (DERIVATE), Eva von Contzen is investigating this trend by placing contemporary texts in a dialogue with writing practices of the pre-modern era, particularly the Middle Ages.

The Consolidator Grant from the European Research Council (ERC), which von Contzen receives for her research projects, runs for five years and is endowed with two million euros. This year, the ERC is funding 308 of the more than 2,000 applications submitted across Europe.

"The funding enables me and my team to research a much-neglected area of literary history, and at the same time to reflect on questions of the literary canon. In other words, to define what ‘good’ literature is,” says von Contzen. In the Middle Ages, a different concept of originality applied than today: good literature was literature that drew on existing themes and texts, which were retold in new and different ways. Modern concepts of literature, on the other hand, focus primarily on originality and privilege the new and the not-yet told. “I would like to counter this with an alternative paradigm of literary history, namely that of a history of derivation, of what has already existed.”

Eva von Contzen has been Fellow at FRIAS since 2017. At FRIAS, she is also head of the project group "Rethinking the Middle Ages". Eva von Contzen is an English literature scholar with a research focus on medieval literature, historical narrative research and literary theory. She was a junior professor from 2017 to 2023 and has been Professor of English Literature at the University of Freiburg since October 2023, where she is currently also Director of the Medieval Centre. In 2017, von Contzen received an ERC Starting Grant for her project “Lists in Literature and Culture” on enumerations and lists in literary texts.

The complete press release of the University of Freiburg on the awarding of the ERC Grants to two Freiburg-based scientists can be found here.

Last update: 23.11.2023