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ERC-European Research Council (ERC)

Literary Games, Poetics and the Early-Modern Novel

Tildelt: kr 20,1 mill.






2024 - 2028


Literary games were a wide-spread practice in seventeenth-century France, and prominent novelists wrote fictions about a salon company playing the “game of the novel” (jeu du roman). While literary games were clearly defined, the novel was a genre that had yet to establish its standards. In order to enhance our understanding of a decisive period for the novel (1600-1700), this project proposes to study how authors model their own practice creatively through play. JEUX is the first comprehensive, systematic investigation of literary games and their impact on the development of the standards for the most prominent literary genre today – the novel. JEUX thereby takes a ground-breaking perspective on the novel in the making. The main objectives are to (1) analyse systematically the impact of early-modern literary games on the narrative standards for fictional worlds, formal coherence and narrators in the novel; (2) identify how literary games contribute to the self-theorising of a new genre; (3) re-evaluate the role of play and games in writing literary history. Using an innovative combination of literary theory, game studies, narratology and anthropological fieldwork, JEUX goes beyond traditional metaphors of literature as a kind of gameplay and investigates an actual literary game from theoretical, historical and empirical perspectives. To assess play as practice, JEUX will invite creative-writing students to play early-modern games and, thereby, pioneer a new methodological approach to explore cultural practices as a potential site for creativity, innovation and community also in the contemporary world. JEUX will sharpen current understanding of decisive developments in the form, poetics and history of the novel. It will enhance our grasp of the dynamics between games and narratives and contribute to the rediscovery of the cultural heritage of literary games. Through the investigation of the neglected corpus of evidence, JEUX will tell a new history of the novel.


ERC-European Research Council (ERC)