University of Innsbruck

Research areas

Discourse is generally understood to mean institutionally established, regulated and regulating social practices in a society that constitute reality and determine action. Accordingly, discourse analysis is concerned with identifying and revealing the systems of rules that are constitutive for a particular discourse.
At the Institute of Romance Studies at the University of Innsbruck, the first step is usually a comprehensive linguistic discourse analysis in the form of fine-meshed linguistic studies on all linguistic levels from phonetics and phonology, semantics and morphosyntax to frame and narrative analysis. In a second step, the linguistic findings are made fruitful on an interdisciplinary basis, specifically in multimodal media analysis, interaction research, literary linguistics, theolinguistics and political linguistics.

Francophonie' is first of all a political concept to designate (partially) French-speaking states and cultural areas outside France as well as their cultural productions. In this understanding, 'francophone literatures' are complementary to 'French literature'. However, we (at the Institute of Romance Studies) use the term 'francophone literatures' more broadly to refer to all literary texts written in French, which in their entirety constitute a French-language 'world literature' ('littérature-monde en français'). In our research, we are particularly interested in France, French-speaking Canada (Québec), the Maghreb (Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia) and the French-speaking Caribbean (e.g. Haiti). Concepts such as those of transculturality, entangled/shared history, transfer processes and translation allow us to perceive literary texts of the Francophone world from transnational perspectives and to explore their interconnectedness(ies). Postcolonial questions play just as much a role as transnational memory processes or literary expressions of hybridity and migration.

Interaction researchers analyse oral interaction as if under a microscope and zoom in on the details of speaking to each other. They are interested in how certain types of conversations take place (e.g. everyday conversations or communication in institutions) and what kind of regularity underlies the linguistic (and non-linguistic) actions of conversation participants. In addition, it is investigated in which exemplary manner and with which (multimodal) methods the interactants accomplish communicative tasks (e.g. the change of speaker). Sequence analysis is central to the analysis, i.e. the meaning or function of a speech cannot be deduced intuitively, but can only be interpreted on the basis of the other person's subsequent utterance.

Latin American studies represent an important focus in the research of our institute. The study of Hispanic and Luso-American cultures, literatures and linguistic varieties focuses mainly on the linguistic and cultural areas of the Caribbean, the Cono Sur (Argentina, Chile, Uruguay), the Andean region and Mexico. In linguistic terms, we pursue discourse, variety and sociolinguistic approaches and focus on multilingualism in the Americas. Literary and cultural studies is characterised by interdisciplinary, transcultural, post- and decolonial and ecocritical approaches. The focus is on discourses of trauma, violence and memory, forms of popular culture, narratives of nature and weather, as well as transatlantic and transregional relations.

We examine media in their cultural-historical manifestations, as they significantly shape our perception of the world. From a literary and cultural studies perspective, the focus is on film (emphasis on silent film, gender, transcultural cinema) on the one hand and on popular music (chanson, canzone, canción, rap, etc.) in the context of Romance-speaking cultures on the other. From a linguistic perspective, we deal with traditional mass media such as newspapers and magazines as well as with the so-called new media, with current trends and developments in the field of Internet communication and their effects on our linguistic behaviour.

Migration movements are a historical phenomenon and have left numerous traces in cultural history. They also characterise the old and the new Romania and are narrated and reflected in the arts such as literature, film and music. Since the 2000s, we have been interested in the so-called migration literatures (e.g. Passages et ancrages. Dictionnaire des écrivains migrants en France), in cinematographic and narrative negotiations of flight and migration (e.g. Cinema of Migration in Italy since 1990) as well as in transcultural negotiation processes in artistic artefacts.

Why is a profession "grasped" in German, while in Italian, French and Spanish it is "embraced" (abbracciare una professione, embrasser un métier, abrazar una profesión)? Or why is it that in Italian and Spanish for How old are you? one asks how many years someone has (Quanti anni hai? ¿Cuántos años tienes?), and in French simply what age someone is (Quel âge as-tu ?)? Such questions are addressed by phraseology, which is devoted to various types of more or less fixed word combinations, such as idioms (dt. jm. einen Korb geben), collocations (dt. Pläne schmieden), routine formulas (dt. Halt die Ohren steif!), model formations (dt. von X zu Y), proverbs or formulaic texts (e.g. obituaries). At Innsbruck Romance Studies, phraseology has been a research focus for about 20 years and is examined from numerous perspectives, including semantics (e.g. lexicalised metaphors/metonymies), contrastive linguistics and (meta-)lexicography (dictionary production), error linguistics (learner corpus analysis) and language didactics (production of teaching materials).

At the Institute of Romance Studies, our research focuses on the literature of the immediate present. This literature, produced since around 1990, deals with highly topical, socially relevant challenges of a present that is 'extreme' in many respects, such as migration and exile, terrorism, the transmission of trauma and social mechanisms of stigmatisation and exclusion of the 'other'. Of particular interest here are the interweavings of individual and collective history, whereby special importance is attached to voids and gaps, ruptures and contradictions in individual and collective memory. Special attention is also paid to aesthetic strategies that attempt to make the complexity of a globalised world characterised by diverse effects of simultaneity and pluralisation visible. In the sense of an ethics and aesthetics of care, questions of one's own responsibility and the shaping of relationships with others are also raised.

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