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Interfaces of the Study of Culture and Life Sciences

Since its foundation in October 2016, this group provides a forum for the exploration of concepts and methods at the interfaces of the study of culture and life sciences. While there is a long tradition of exchange between the cultural and life sciences, research topics at the crossroad of these two scientific areas such as the growing field of Medical Humanities have gained prominence within the study of culture, especially in recent years. In addition, those within the study of culture have begun to apply theories and methods borrowed from the life sciences and to test their productivity. At the same time, life scientists are increasingly taking a closer look at the cultural preconditions, impacts and foundations of their research. However, work within these fields—or, to borrow a phrase from C.P. Snow, between the "two cultures"—frequently remains demarcated along disciplinary boundaries. Hence, an interdisciplinary forum for the research of core concepts and methods that combine cultural and life science perspectives represents an important advancement for future research. With regular meetings, publications and other events, the group creates such a platform and thus promotes communication between these fields. Together with our co-operation partners, we investigate the following topics:

  • Travelling concepts between the cultural and life sciences (such as growth, complexity, emergence, etc.)
  • "The two cultures": differences between humanities and biological / medical approaches to humans and their environment
  • The question of methodological "translations" between cultural and life sciences and the possibility of devising common methods
  • Possible bridges between the cultural and life sciences in the development of post- / transhumanist approaches
  • Special consideration is given to the field of Medical Humanities


Current research focus and activities:

The Research Group is currently engaged with the topic of medical humanities. We will investigate the state of the art, the different perspectives in the field and its current tendencies.

Members of the ETRG recently published a guest edited issue of On_Culture titled Illness, narrated, which focuses on the various ways in which narrative is at work in medical environments and contexts. The group’s members actively involved are Silvia Boide, Benjamin Brendel, Maaike Hommes and Melanie Kreitler. 


During the past semesters, the Research Group organized and participated in various events:


Past emphases and research questions include:

  • Metaphors in the life sciences: metaphors as the basis of the generation and transmission of scientific knowledge
  • Neural constants and their cultural manifestations
  • The concept of aging in the study of culture
  • Epistemic images: visualisation and representation strategies in the life sciences
  • Neurosciences and concepts of consciousness
  • Self-determination at the end of life: cultural practices of dying (especially patient decrees / living wills)


Current Members

  • Maaike Hommes (Speaker)
  • Fabian Pindus (Speaker)
  • Dr. Burcu Alkan (former speaker)
  • Silvia Boide (former speaker)
  • Melanie Kreitler (former speaker)
  • Benjamin Brendel
  • Susanne Christ
  • Sebastian Jung
  • Marija Spirkovska


Former Members 

  • Dominique Autschbach (former speaker)
  • Dr. habil. Michael Basseler
  • Katja Berndt (predoctoral programme)
  • Philipp Brockkötter
  • Dr. Tom Clucas (former speaker)
  • Jennifer Kappe
  • Hannah Klaubert
  • Dr. Jens Kugele 
  • Jacob Lundgren (former speaker)
  • Dr. Wibke Schniedermann
  • Verena Suchy (former speaker)
  • Andrea Züger