Maximilian Benz and Carmen Marcks-Jacobs, "Ancient Spaces as Spaces of Movement in the Postclassical Era: Factography, Imagination, Construction", in: Reports of the Research Groups at the Topoi Plenary Session 2010, eTopoi. Journal for Ancient Studies, Special Volume 1 (2011), 1–12


The Research Group E-I investigates artistic forms of the transmission of knowledge concerning spaces of antiquity. In this respect long-term chains of transformative processes are to be observed through which the interrelationships between space and knowledge established in antiquity have been altered by historical agents through specific epistemic and medial claims. The aim is twofold: to analyze these knowledge-based processes of transformation in precise areas of investigation on a reliable material basis on the one hand; on the other to formulate relevant statements concerning the history of the transformation of space and knowledge through the consolidation of research results. For this reason, the research group takes up the all-encompassing topic of the artistic transmission of knowledge about space in the post-classical era in the context of the following precisely formulated contoured topic areas: (1) spoliation and transposition, (2) travels through spaces of antiquity, (3) the fictionalization and resemanticization of antique spaces in epics and novels of the Middle Ages and early modern period, (4) concepts and semanticizations of the Beyond in the Middle Ages and early modern period. Interdisciplinary research into the processes of formation and transformation of the interrelationships between space and knowledge in antiquity, the Middle Ages, and the modern period, however, calls for an integrative and sufficiently elastic concept, albeit one that is by no means arbitrary and which serves as a methodological foundation while remaining receptive to procedures of abstraction as well as of concretization, and which is adaptable to the participating disciplines. As for our research group, the concept of space as an area of movement has a heuristic function; it has proven to be an especially stable concept because the term space of movement pictures the dynamism of the concept of space which is applied by the group. We conceive of space as being generated performatively on a variety of levels through actions, perceptions, language, etc. In accordance with this emphatically dynamic conception, the term space of movement also clarifies the irreducible processual quality of formation and transformation. The concept of a space of movement remains open; it is not bound to the ontological status of the object, nor is it restricted to specific disciplinary methodologies; it implies nothing normative, but serves instead as an exclusively heuristic concept. The application of the concept of the space of movement leads toward a multiplicity of concrete individual results, particularly in the framework of the qualifying projects; moreover, it has proven possible to provide research on spoliation with a new perspective, to differentiate concepts of space in literature in historical terms, and to criticize cartographic procedures in the framework of scientific reconstructions.

Published In

Friederike Fless, Gerd Graßhoff and Michael Meyer (Eds.), Reports of the Research Groups at the Topoi Plenary Session 2010, eTopoi. Journal for Ancient Studies, Special Volume 1 (2011), Berlin: Exzellenzcluster 264 Topoi