What are poetics?

Poetics as ‘Device of Poetry’ deal with the appearance of literary texts, their laws and means of form and formation as well as the principles of poetic creation – in short: Literature as a whole. They intersect substantially with the areas of aesthetic, rhetoric, stylistic as well as literature history and criticism. Being a central corpus of the humanities the chosen works contain a systematic basic knowledge for literature from the beginning of scientifically descripting poetic (end of the 18th century) to its end resp. transition to literature theory (mid. 20th century). These texts thus document the reasoning and writing about literature (and other arts) during the central period after the differentiation of the system of the arts.

The analyzed corpus of twenty poetics is very heterogeneous in several ways:

1. Size: the shortest poetic totals ca. 50 pages (Joseph Körner, Einführung in die Poetik, 1949), the longest one around 1600 pages (Conrad Beyer, Deutsche Poetik, 1882-84, 3 volumes)

2. Content/composition: Especially with respect to the intersection with other theoretical genres mentioned above being aesthetic, rhetoric/stylistic etc., but also with respect to influences from other contexts (psychology, philosophy, other arts etc.)

3. Use of terms: Although two poetics may cover the same subjects, this does not mean, that use and conception of certain terms are consistent, for there may be observed a change over the period analyzed, which covers roughly 200 years.