Ever since it was founded, the Peter Szondi Institute, named after its first professor, has stood for a transdisciplinary approach to literature with an emphasis on poetry, literary theory, and rhetoric as well as the interaction of the arts. The members of the Institute study the various literatures of Europe, including those written in several different Slavic languages, from antiquity to the present. With its diverse teaching methods, active research, and many international connections, the Institute has had a considerable influence on the profile of Freie Universität in the humanities. It is one of the world’s leading research institutions in this field.
Institute members are extensively involved in the collaborative research center “Aesthetic Experience and the Dissolution of Artistic Limits” and in two clusters of excellence: “Languages of Emotion” and “Topoi. The Formation and Transformation of Space and Knowledge in Ancient Civilizations.” Numerous research projects conducted at the Institute are supported by the German Research Foundation, DFG, for example, the Fiktion research network or the Emmy Noether Junior Research Group Bauformen der Imagination. The Peter Szondi Institute is proud to host three different regular visiting professorships, one for literature, one for German Literature, and one for literary translation. During recent years prominent authors such as Kenzaburo Oe, Etgar Keret, Daniel Kehlmann, and Rainald Goetz joined the Institute for a semester as a visiting professor. This situation helps to maintain a vital connection to contemporary literature.