About This Issue


  • Editors / Herausgeber*innen


Five years ago, when we focused on the topic of “narrating illness” in two DIEGESIS special issues, the pandemic was not yet the paradigm of illness that it is now. The current issue can be seen as a sequel to these two extensive and much-cited (FR, NZZ) issues, a reaction to new desiderata in research on the relationship between illness and storytelling raised by the current situation.

The COVID-19 pandemic has not only triggered medical and scientific advances and technological responses but has moreover left its mark on cultural productions and their reception. The pandemic has been dealt with in diverse narratives. In this special issue we take a look at “reality narratives” (Klein / Martínez 2009) which can be analyzed as “collective narratives” in the sense of Sommer (2009). Collective narratives are characterized by the function they perform for a particular community, in that it is from such narratives that the community draws its collective identity and shared values.

The corpora analyzed in this issue showcase the great variety that narratives of this type can take: Programmatically connecting autobiographical narratives of individuals from all over the world, the Corona Diaries construct a larger polyphonic narrative structure; the Corona Haikus provide examples of transmedial storytelling in image-text relationships. The interaction between the authors’ contributions and their audience’s comments, typical of communication processes on the internet and in the social media, characterizes the collective narratives in these two corpora, which Jasmin Kermanchi and Anna Wiehl analyze and interpret. Based on an overview of recurring narrative processes in traditional pandemic narratives, Birgit Däwes suggests in her contribution that the narrative strategies of selected short stories from the prominent Decameron Project of the New York Times Magazine can be set in analogy to mRNA vaccinations. Finally, from a political perspective, Anna Nora Freier addresses the question to what extent protest communities against Corona policies can be understood as storytelling communities.

Marcel Beyer’s contribution to our new section “Hands-On Narratology / From the World of Narratives” deals with another highly topical event: Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. The author wrote his essay as part of his ‘Poetikdozentur’ at the University of Wuppertal.

In our interview section “The Shape of Things to Come / New Horizons,” Henrik Zetterberg-Nielsen reports on current developments in the field of fictionality research at the Center for Fictionality Studies at Aarhus University, Denmark, and affords insight into his latest project on the relationship between storytelling, fictionality and sexuality.

The issue is rounded off by two book reviews. Under review are the 2022 Perkins Prize-winning monograph We-Narrative: Collective Storytelling in Contemporary Fiction by Natalya Bekhta (2020) and Environment and Narrative: New Directions in Econarratology (2020) edited by Erin James and Eric Morel.