Fellow of the Fritz Thyssen Foundation
November 2014 – November 2017
Imitatio and Identification: Teresa de Ávila, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and Jonathan Littell
This project analyzes three literary texts within their specific context: the autobiography Libro de la vida (1564), the fictive correspondence Julie ou la nouvelle Héloïse (1761), and the novel Les Bienveillantes (2006). The theme that holds these three works together consists of the claim that they all entice the reader to identify with an ambiguous or even sinful figure. This figure can be presented within the equivocal framework of sanctity where sin and holiness are bound together. However, during the course of modernity, this framework grows fragile. What remains significant, even in a secular context, is the literary aesthetical effort of leading the reader into a process of self-reflection upon his/her own abyss. The success of this rhetorical endeavor depends on how convincingly the literary text is able to present itself as a mirror image and to address its reader as a brother or sister.
Iris Roebling-Grau received her PhD in comparative literature from the Freie Universität Berlin. In her dissertation she traced the concept of gratuitous action – illustrated prominently in the novel Les caves du Vatican by André Gide and in other literary, theological, and philosophical texts. As research assistant she taught at the University of Bielefeld and at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universtiät München. Iris Roebling-Grau is currently working at the Peter Szondi Institut für Allgemeine und Vergleichende Literaturwissenschaft at Freie Universität Berlin.
In 2015 Iris Roebling-Grau organized a conference entitled Santa Teresa: Her Writings and Writings about Her. Please find the detailed program here.