My working field as a comparative literary historian is Europe, that “crisscrossing web of borders” as Paul Hazard called it. But besides underpinning my transnational, comparatist approach to cultural history, Europe is also a commitment. I study Europe in its cultural diversity as a process of exhanges and articulations. My interest in nationalism derives from that European commitment; nationalism needs, I think, to be studied forensically as a form of cultural agoraphobia and a refusal to embrace the diversity that is Europe’s (and indeed humanity’s) core characteristic.
Europe’s multinational culture; its competing and shifting self-images; its guilt, glory, and Eurocentrism; its track record of negotiating its inner differences: all that is a protean palette of topics to which I often return without ever wanting to summarize it into a single “project”. I do, however, have the ambition of gathering materials towards an “imagology of Europe”. That includes literary-historical topics, be they matters of Englishness from the Victorian novel to Harry Potter and Downton Abbey; German Heimat-films; national epics in book or film form; Orientalism, cultural nostalgia and “Gypsy” exoticism; or the imaginative repertoire and underlying ideologies of “hard SF” science fiction.
More broadly culture-historical fields of European interest include the history of the Roman Catholic church and the history of war propaganda.
At the meta-level I am interested in (trans)nationalism European knowledge production: i.e., in the history and theory of the humanities, and the comparative method in particular, since Giambattista Vico.