Date: January 3, 2018, No. 1

How we understand understanding from misunderstandings

Interdisciplinary workshop at the University of Stuttgart

In order to understand understanding the idea is to test its limits. Particularly well suited to this is looking at those moments in which there are misinterpretations or misunderstandings or different understandings. These take centre stage at the interdisciplinary workshop “Misunderstanding” on 12th and 13th January 2018 at the University of Stuttgart. The organizer is the  Stuttgart Research Centre for Text Studies (SRCTS) and the Institute for Literary Studies at the University of Stuttgart in cooperation with the International Centre for Cultural and Technological Studies (IZKT) and the Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen (Graduate College 1808: Ambiguity).

Friday, 12th January 2018 from 11 am, Saturday, 13th January 2018 from 10 am 

Friday Keplerstr. 7, 70174 Stuttgart, Senate Hall,
Saturday Keplerstr. 17, 70174 Stuttgart, Room 17.92

Representatives of the media are cordially invited! 

Misunderstandings are part of everyday life. They disturb communication but also stimulate it. Misunderstandings trigger arguments, are the source of conversation and not uncommonly only strategically simulated. Misunderstandings occur between the sexes, between different cultures and languages, between experts and laypeople. We often misunderstand ourselves. 

The participants of the workshop want to sound out the relationship of understanding, inspiration processes and misunderstanding from the perspective of various disciplines. With which models could the diverse factors and individual moments that lead to misunderstandings be captured? Which roles do context, medium, code, perspective, affects play?

In everyday communication misunderstandings can be described according to communication theory. Yet what about misunderstanding aesthetic forms that are not in communication contexts but that can be captured in the framework of reception aesthetic? Wit, irony or metaphoric speech for example are based on intended category errors. Speaking here about a failure in communication would be on a par with a misunderstanding of aesthetic understanding processes. How can misunderstanding be described when dealing with literary texts, historic sources or objects of art?    

Processes of understanding also take centre stage of the joint cluster application “Understanding Understanding“, that the universities of Stuttgart and Tübingen as well as the Deutsche Literaturarchiv (DLA) (German Literature Archive) Marbach and the Leibniz-Institute for Knowledge Media Tübingen (IWM) are currently developing in the framework of the excellence strategy to strengthen cutting edge research. The aim is new approaches in order to better understand what happens when we (don’t) understand language and text. In doing so the latest developments in the fields of linguistics, computer linguistics/digital humanities, psychology and literary studies are conflated.

Technical information and registration: Dr Marie Wokalek, University of Stuttgart, Institute for Literary Studies, NDL I, Tel.: +49 (0)711 685-82279, E-Mail

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