Mediating the Ecological Imperative -- Prof. Dr. Gabriele Rippl

The goal of this SNSF Sinergia project (2021-2024) is to research the way twentieth and twenty-first century cultural products respond to the ethical demands the ecological crisis places on our society and how this manifests in the formats that mediate these demands. Examples of these cultural mediations are part of a growing consciousness about the image politics of climate change and the role of cultural sustainability or examined according to the principles of contemporary eco-aesthetics and new documentary ecologies. We take the notion of an “ecological imperative” of cultural products—an ethical stance toward human resource management built upon Kantian terms—as a starting point. This SNSF Sinergia project builds on the rich research results of the Environmental Humanities and propels the state of the art by exploring the mediation of ethical demands engrained in images, literary texts and eco-ekphrases, expanded artforms, and practices of social engagement. We ask how specific formats in cultural production work intermedially to engender the ecological imperative. Our corpus differentiates between specific formats and modes from across the disciplines of image studies, literary studies, art history, and social anthropology. Our objects of study are examples of cultural products’ potential to inspire human beings to take action and to acknowledge the demands of an ecological imperative. Due to our common expertise, the geographical focus is on the Americas.

The Beach in the Long Twentieth Century.

August 2020 - July 2024. SNF Project. The beach is an important space in Western literature. Ever since the rise in popularity of the seaside holiday, the beach has been depicted as a site of leisure, sensuous enjoyment and play, clearly distinguished from and often in a dialectical relationship with industrialised and metropolitan spaces of work. Despite its significance as a spatial frame in fiction, travel writing and memoirs, however, the beach has played a relatively minor role in scholarship until fairly recently. This project seeks to redress this neglect, focussing on a period in which the beach has undergone dramatic changes, both in everyday culture and in literary and artistic representations: the ‘long twentieth century,’ dating roughly from 1890 to the present. Team: Prof. Dr. Virginia Richter, PD. Dr. Ursula Kluwick, Guðrun í Jákupsstovu, Fabienne Blaser.

Elite Creativities: Engaging the Language Work of Professional Wordsmiths

May 2020 to April 2023. SNF Project. In short, the Elite Creativities project seeks to make substantial contributions to the field of critical sociolinguistics. As a multi-sited discourse-ethnography, the project has four unifying aims: (1) to investigate three domains of professional language work largely or completely overlooked by language scholars; (2) to expand scholarship on language and political economy by looking at more elite, “high-end” forms of language work; (3) to generate new empirical insights into two cutting-edge issues in sociolinguistics and discourse studies, namely semiotic ideology and discursive creativity; and (4) to apply a discourse-ethnographic research design centering practitioners’ reflexive accounts of their work. Team: Prof. Dr. Crispin Thurlow (PI), Dr. Gwynne Mapes (postdoc) and Olivia Droz-Dit-Busset (doc). Affiliated doctoral researcher: Lara Portmann. Student Research Assistant: Nicolas Röthlisberger.



Articulating Privilege: A New Geographical Methodology for Sociolinguistics

January 2020 - December 2021. SNF Project. In short, the main objective of this project is to implement an experimental research method in sociolinguistics, a field which studies the use of language in everyday social/institutional contexts. The method is called a “discourse-centered commodity chain analysis” and offers a chance to examine pressing social issues and cutting-edge scientific developments. The project borrows from geography (and economics) commodity chain analysis which entails “mapping” all the activities involved in the design, production, marketing and consumption of a single product or commodity. The project redesigns this method in a way that highlights linguistic and communicative practices (i.e. “discourse”) at each stage. To this end, a particular but slightly unorthodox object of analysis is used – the business-class airline meal – which is selected as a quintessential manifestation of contemporary privilege. Team: Prof. Dr. Crispin Thurlow, Noëlle Haudenschild (student research assistant), as well as the professional photographer, Daniel Rihs.

Canonicity, Obscenity, and the Making of Modern Chaucer (COMMode): An Investigation of the Transmission and Audiences of The Canterbury Tales from 1700 to 2020

January 2020 – December 2024. This SNSF Eccellenza project will recover the untold history of how Chaucer became both an icon of English literary fame and an icon of obscene humour by examining the evolution of his most famous text alongside the evolution of his reputation between 1700 and the present day. The project team includes Prof. Dr. Mary C. Flannery (project leader) and Dr Amy Brown (postdoctoral researcher) and will also include a doctoral researcher, who will join the project in the autumn of 2020.

Auto_Bio_Graphy: Historiographic Perspectives on Ego Documents/Personal Testimonies in Literature and the Visual and Performative Arts -- Prof. Dr. Gabriele Rippl

From 2018. Interdisciplinary Walter-Benjamin-Kolleg research platform - a cooperation between Dance Studies (Prof. Dr. Ch. Thurner), Spanish Literature (Prof. Bénédicte Vauthier), Literatures in English (Prof. Dr. G. Rippl) and Visual Anthropology (Prof. Dr. M. Schäuble)

Original - Copy: Techniques and Aesthetics of Reproduction -- Prof. Dr. Gabriele Rippl

From 2016. Interdisciplinary Walter Benjamin Kolleg research platform - a cooperation between Medieval German Literature, Art History, Literatures in English (with Prof. Dr. A. Gerhard, Prof. Dr. Ch. Göttler, Prof. Dr. P. Schneemann, Prof. Dr. M. Stolz and Prof. Dr. Ch. Thurner; coordinator: G. Rippl)
Name Provisional Thesis Title Supervisor
Akin, Banu

Writing the Body: A Feminist Reading of Novels by French-African and African-American Writers

Prof. Dr. Thomas Claviez
Behluli, Sofie Visuality and Materiality in the Contemporary North American Novel Prof. Dr. Gabriele Rippl
Biber, Olivia Keeping the Political in Economics: The Economic Concerns of Female Victorian Writers.
Prof. Dr. Virginia Richter
Bischof, Roman

Between Neurons and the Self: Concepts of Consciousness, Identity and Reality in Representations of Mental Illness in Anglophone Novels since 1950 

Prof. Dr. Gabriele Rippl
Blaser, Fabienne Trouble in Paradise: The Beach as the Site of Disaster  Prof. Dr. Virginia Richter
Büchler, Andrin Das Schweizerdeutsche der Rätoroman*innen im „Unterland“ Prof. Dr. David Britain (co-supervisor)
Curtis, Kristen

Chaucerian Obscenity and the Wife of Bath

Prof. Dr. Mary Flannery

Droz-dit-Busset, Olivia

Remediating Sincerity? Context Collapse and Celebrity Discourse in the Language Work of Social Media Influencers 

Prof. Dr. Crispin Thurlow
Grossenbacher, Sarah

Dialect at the fairground: Mobility and language variation among a nomadic British community

Prof. Dr. David Britain
Gasser, Selina Arab-American Female Stand-up Comedy Prof. Dr. Gabriele Rippl
Jaroski, Vanessa What’s up Switzerland? Language, Individuals and Ideologies in Mobile Messaging Prof. Dr. Crispin Thurlow
íJákupsstovu, Guðrun Making Home in the Littoral: Of Encounters, Undoings, and Assemblages on the Beach. Prof. Dr. Virginia Richter
Lynch, Sara Kosraean English: History, development and structure of an emergent Micronesian variety Prof. Dr. David Britain
Marenzi, Elisa Learning to sound Australian: an intergenerational analysis of Italian and Lebanese Melbourne Australian English Prof. Dr. David Britain
Mathier, Marion

Besides Technology: A Critical Discourse Ethnography of Digital Media Inside and Outside the Classroom

Prof. Dr. Crispin Thurlow
Portmann, Lara

UX Writing as Audience Design: The Sociolinguistics of Digital Media Interfaces.

Prof. Dr. Crispin Thurlow
Reber, Simon “For I Am Many”: The Poetry of Edward Sapir Prof. Dr. Gabriele Rippl
Schneider, Christa

Gvätterlisch oder spiusch? Sprachwandel im Berner Mittelland seit den Erhebungen zum Sprachatlas der deutschen Schweiz

Prof. Dr. David Britain
Steffen, Samuel Representation of Gulf Wars Prof. Dr. Gabriele Rippl
Tod, Danielle English in the Kingdom: Analysis of the emergent variety of English in the Kingdom of Tonga Prof. Dr. David Britain
Ulrich, Jenny When lived discourses meet (clash with/run into) an ideal – An analysis of deliberation in contexts of social exclusion.  Prof. Dr. Crispin Thurlow
Vaudano, Sanja Inside the Black Box: Poetics of Dream Narration in Salman Rushdie's Fiction Prof. Dr. Virginia Richter
von Rütte, Sabine

Contemporary North American Motherhood Memoirs

Prof. Dr. Gabriele Rippl
Welker, Craig

Sociolinguistic Variation and Expressed Ideology in the Spanish of Juchitán, México

Prof. Dr. David Britain (co-supervisor)


Adjunct Researchers

The Cultural Discourses and Social Meanings of Mobile Communication -- Director: Prof. Dr. Crispin Thurlow, Doctoral researcher: Vanessa Jaroski

January 2016 - December 2018. This project is part of a larger Sinergia research programme titled What's up, Switzerland? conducted together with researchers at the universities of Zurich, Neuchâtel, Leipzig and Bern. The project is organized around two complementary strands of research activity, all of which centre on the creation of a unique, open-access repository (the "Digital Discourse Database") for scholars and students engaged in the study of new media language. The first, primary strand of work entails archiving and analysing a substantial dataset of national, regional and also international newspaper reports about new media language with specific reference to mobile messaging. The second, supplementary strand of work entails an up-to-date ethnographic survey of local Swiss users of mobile/online communication technologies.

Cultural Sustainability: The Concept of Culture in the Debates on Sustainable Development--Prof. Dr. Gabriele Rippl

From June 2015, with Prof. Dr. Torsten Meireis, Theology Department, Humboldt University of Berlin

The Senses: Past and Present -- Prof. Dr. Annette Kern-Stähler

More information will be added shortly.

English in Paradise? Emergent Varieties in Micronesia--Prof. Dr. David Britain

January 2015 - December 2017. Swiss National Science Foundation  - co-researchers Dominique Bürki and Tobias Leonhardt. This project investigates the emergent structures of and the similarities and differences between the new Englishes developing in three Micronesian territories: the Federated States of Micronesia, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and Kiribati.


Of Cultural, Poetic, and Medial Alterity: The Scholarship, Poetry, Photographs, and Films of Edward Sapir, Ruth Fulton Benedict, and Margaret Mead--Prof. Dr. Gabriele Rippl

 August 2014 - July 2017. SNF-funded research project with Prof. Dr. Philipp Schweighauser and Prof. Dr. Walter Leimgruber (University of Basel)

Contact, mobility and authenticity: language ideologies in koineisation and creolisation--Prof. Dr. David Britain

August 2013 - December 2016. Swiss National Science Foundation. With co-researchers Christoph Neuenschwander and Laura Tresch. This project examines how the process by which new language varieties, such as pidgins, creoles and koines, with roots in acts of mobility, become, in public and media discourses, legitimised and authenticised. The project is examining two creoles (Tok Pisin and Hawai'ian Creole English) and two koines (New Zealand English and Estuary English).

Of Cultural and Medial Alterity: The Scholarship, Poetry, Photographs, and Films of Edward Sapir, Ruth Fulton Benedict, and Margaret Mead--Prof. Dr. Gabriele Rippl with Prof. Dr. Philipp Schweighauser and Prof. Dr. Walter Leimgruber

This three year research project brought together two literary scholars and one cultural anthropologist to explore convergences between two types of alterity: cultural alterity (the otherness of other cultures) and medial alterity (the otherness of media other than the academic text). 2010-2014

Popular Seriality—Aesthetics and Practice--Prof. Dr. Gabriele Rippl

Funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), this project brought together 15 researchers from the fields of American Studies, German Philology, Cultural Anthropology/European Ethnology, Empirical Cultural Studies, and Media Studies. From 2010 to 2013, six sub-projects investigated a narrative format that has become a defining feature of popular aesthetics: the series.

Theories and Practices of Authenticity in Global Cultural Production--Prof. Dr. Thomas Claviez

2013 - 2016

Seriality and Intermediality in Graphic Novels--Prof. Dr. Gabriele Rippl

This project focused on two aspects of comics and graphic novels which have been neglected by researchers so far: Firstly, seriality is not considered to be merely a reduction of aesthetic complexity and part of the culture industry´s ideological context of deception, but rather a form of standardization and schematization, generating new possibilities for formal, experiential and ideological variation. We understand seriality as an interaction of formal-material conditions and experiential practices. Secondly, we investigated intermedial narration. 2010-2013

The Poetics and Politics of Cosmopolitanism in English Literatures of South Asian Background--Prof. Dr. Virginia Richter and Prof. Dr. Gabriele Rippl

The term cosmopolitanism has gained such a wide currency in contemporary debates that some critics speak of a paradigm shift. The fascination with the concept of cosmopolitanism dates back to antiquity and has often been regarded in view of its translation as “world citizenship”. Today, the potential – but also the pitfalls – of cosmopolitanism are being discussed across various disciplines with a sense of urgency. While the interest in recent literary cosmopolitanism seems partly fuelled by authors’ biographies and book marketing strategies, it is also informed by the identification of a vaguely cosmopolitan stance. Although the concept does feature in literary studies, the difference between a normative-philosophical and a descriptive-analytical approach is often not distinctly established.  This research project aims at closing this gap by defining the cosmopolitan stance in a methodologically and terminologically reflected manner, by a critical analysis of postcolonial texts. 2010-2013