Cultural heritage is the tangible and intangible expression of ways of life which have been developed by a society and then re-acquired, interpreted, preserved, modified and passed on by each generation.
This includes artistic and everyday forms of expression, objects, values and all manner of practices. Everyday culture, and research into it, was long neglected. In the wake of the boom in the 1980s, however, it has attracted increasing attention in recent years, thereby permitting an altered and expanded view of history and society.
Where it may also be assumed that everyday culture has been brought closer to people through its very ordinariness, that does not mean that they better understand it in an academic sense. Rather, it must be assumed that academic knowledge of the humanities and cultural sciences – as with knowledge of the natural sciences – is also less widespread and there, too, prompts instances of unfamiliarity and distance, in particular with respect to the everyday culture of past eras. Love letters are in themselves an attractive subject and as such perfectly suited to bridging gaps. For this reason they can make not only innovative questions in the humanities and cultural sciences accessible to the public, but also introduce them to the complex yet practical methods of the digital humanities.
The G&K project is set to bear the fruits of this citizen science approach as it examines the fascinating and scintillating phenomenon of the love letter – poised between the poetic everyday expression of emotionality and a standardised form of private communication between two people. As evidence of everyday culture in terms of written communication – subject on the one hand to high societal standards and expectations as well as media conditions and continuous change – the love letter arouses considerable interest in the public domain and offers as yet untapped potential for scientific discovery. This research theme touches all genders across all sexual orientations, all age groups, life phases, classes and social environments and therefore throws up a uniquely wide variety of questions.
The collaborators on G&K developed “Gruß & Kuss – Briefe digital. Bürger*innen erhalten Liebesbriefe” on the basis of extensive previous experience and preparation with the aim of tapping into the potential of this unique source material together with the bearers of culture and to integrate it into the preservation of their own culture and the development of citizen science research into this material.
ongoing, 1.4.2021 – 31.3.2024
- Prof. Dr. Andrea Rapp, TU/ Institut für Sprach- und Literaturwiss.
- Prof. Dr. Eva L. Wyss, Institut für Germanistik, Universität Koblenz‐Landau
- Dr. Canan Hastik, TU Darmstadt
- Prof. Dr. Stefan Schmunk, Hochschule Darmstadt
- Dr. Ralf Grunder, Universitätsbibliothek Koblenz‐Landau
- Dr. Barbara Koelge, Rheinische Landesbibliothek, Koblenz