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Towards a Listology: ERC Starting Grant for FRIAS Alumna Eva von Contzen

FRIAS Alumna Dr. Eva von Contzen has received an ERC Starting Grant for her project “Towards a Listology – LISTLIT”, focusing on the function of lists in literature.

Eva von Contzen was a Junior Fellow at FRIAS from October 2013 to July 2014. During her fellowship she began her research on the function, purposes and effects of lists in literature. Her work culminated in her successful application to the European Research Council (overview of ERC grants for FRIAS Fellows). Thus, her FRIAS Fellowship was decisive for her success at the ERC. The ERC Starting Grant is one of the most prestigious scientific awards in Europe, supporting young researchers after their doctorate at the start of their careers. This year there were approximately 3000 applications, of which 350 projects are being funded.


Shopping lists, lists of travel destination, to-do-lists at the office: lists are omnipresent in our modern daily life – and they are not a new invention at all. Ever since humans started writing, they have compiled lists, for example in order to gain an overview of and administrate a certain area, or to remind the public of important kings or historical events. Lists also loom large in literary fiction. “Just think of the myriads of lists in the bible or the catalogue of ships in the ‘Ilias’”, says Eva von Contzen. At the same time, when they appear in literary writings, it is almost a provocation: who has not skipped pages of lists instead of reading them? Is it even possible to read lists? It is exactly this tension between the seemingly trivial cultural practice of writing lists and its literary manifestations that the Anglicist wants to analyse. Together with her research group, she will investigate different forms and genres of lists from antiquity to postmodernism, with the purpose of answering two key questions: How are lists and enumerations used in literary texts and which functions do they have? How do these literary forms of lists relate to non-literary practices of writing lists at a certain period of time?

With her project, von Contzen aims to contribute to the currently expanding discipline of cognitive literature studies. “Lists represent principles of order and disorder. They are a valuable seismograph for how the world was perceived and classified at a certain time.” Furthermore, part of the project will be the creation of a publicly available database of lists in literary texts. The project will be funded with 1.38 million Euros over a period of five years. She will work together with three doctoral students and one postdoc.


After her fellowship, Eva von Contzen has remained closely connected to FRIAS. Amongst other things, she represented FRIAS at the “Intercontinental Academia” (ICA) by FRIAS, which was organized by the worldwide network of university-based Institutes for Advanced Studies UBIAS. In April 2015 and March 2016, thirteen young researchers met for two-week seminars in Sao Paolo, Brazil (2015) and Nagoya, Japan (2016) respectively, in order to explore the topic of “time” from an interdisciplinary perspective. With her scientific expertise and verve, Eva von Contzen has contributed substantially to the success of the ICA. The results of these experimental projects have been recorded for so called Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC), which are currently being developed in cooperation with Coursera, one of the biggest providers of MOOCs.

Further information on Eva von Contzen

Further information on award winning FRIAS Fellows

ERC Grants for FRIAS Fellows

2016: ERC Starting Grant Marco Caracciolo (Literaturwissenschaft) Junior Fellow 2015-17
2016: ERC Starting Grant Eva von Contzen (Englische Literatur) Junior Fellow 2013-14
2015: ERC Consolidator Grant Tobias Schätz (Physik) Internal Senior Fellow 2014-15
2015: ERC Starting Grant Miriam Erlacher (Medizin) Junior Fellow 2013-14
2015: ERC Starting Grant Karen Lienkamp (Chemie) Junior Fellow 2013-14
2011: ERC Advanced Grant Jan Korvink (Informatik) Internal Senior Fellow 2008-13
2011: ERC Advanced Grant Ingo Krossing (Chemie) Internal Senior Fellow 2008-13
2011: ERC Starting Grant Natalie Stingelin (Materialwissenschaft) External Senior Fellow 2010-13
2010: ERC Starting Grant Florian Mintert (Physik) Junior Fellow 2010-13
2010: ERC Advanced Grant Peter Jonas (Neurophysiologie) Internal Senior Fellow 2008-10