Previous projects

The patterns of development in contemporary Estonian culture: preparations for an ERC project

MOBERC grant (2016–2017)

The aims of the grant project were: (1) to prepare and present a revised grant application to European Research Council; (2) to start preparatory work for the ERC grant project; (3) to continue with the theoretical research needed for carrying out the ERC project. The ERC project application was dedicated to examining the cultural patterns that emerged after the breakdown of the Soviet system, and their socio-political context. The purpose of the project was to analyze (1) the reconfigurations that took place in late-Soviet and post-Soviet Estonian culture due to the rapid changes in the political, technological and socio-economical framework, and the specific resonations of these developments in various artistic practises, e.g. literature, visual culture and theatre; (2) the manifestations of national and transnational tendencies in the cultural developments; (3) the relations between contemporary artistic and political practices.

During the grant project, the team co-organized the 8th ASAP (Association for the Study of the Arts of the Present) Symposium “Alternatives to the Present” in Tartu in 2016; organized the seminar “Heterologies. Seminar on Estonian Culture in the 1990s” in Käsmu in 2017, as well as held two annual conferences and published two volumes from the series “Etüüde nüüdiskultuurist / Studies in Contemporary Culture”.    

Principal investigator: Virve Sarapik; research associates: Neeme Lopp, Mari Laaniste, Jaak Tomberg.

Rhetorical Patterns of Mimesis and Estonian Textual Culture

Target financed research theme (2008–2013)

The objective of the research project was (1) to give a thorough theoretical elaboration of the concept of mimesis and to work out an methodological framework for this topic; (2) to analyze the representational potential of written, oral, and visual texts, particularly from recent decades; to outline the logic of the development of Estonian textual rhetoric in relation to socio-political processes; to analyze the role of mimesis in everyday experience and participatory culture. The complex nature of the research project necessitated the deployment of different theories of art and literature, from phenomenology to cultural semiotics.

In addition to publication of research results, the project team co-organized the 36th annual IAPL (International Association of Philosophy and Literature) conference, “Archaeologies of the Future: Tracing Memories, Imagining Spaces” in Tallinn University in 2012, and continued the annual conference and publication series “Etüüde nüüdiskultuurist / Studies in Contemporary Culture”.

Principal investigator: Virve Sarapik, research associates: Epp Annus, Luule Epner, Robert Hughes, Maie Kalda, Mari Laanemets, Mari Laaniste, Kaia Lehari, Eva Näripea, Katrin Puik, Jaak Tomberg, Piret Viires, Raivo Kelomees, Neeme Lopp, Toomas Lott, Elnara Taidre, Merle Tank, Andreas Trossek, Sven-Hannes Vabar.

Participatory Culture in Cyberspace: Literature and its Borders
Estonian Science Foundation grant No 7679 (2008–2011)

The research project stemmed from recognizing the close link between the postmodernist cultural situation and contemporary technological developments. The goal of the project was to analyze the new forms of literature and culture that have emerged due to recent developments in information technology. The objects of study were various cultural texts created in the digital environment, and especially literary texts, i.e. ‘cyberliterature’. The theoretical cornerstone of the project was the concept of “participatory culture” The main goal of the project was to analyze cultural texts existing in cyberspace which expand the traditional borders of culture and literature. The empirical basis for case studies included examples from local as well as international cyberliterature, both analyzed with the aim of elaborating a theoretical overview of participatory culture and its accompanying phenomena. The central problems were the changing concept of authorship as well as various interpretations of the concept of virtuality. On a broader level, the research project analyzed the postmodernist cultural situation with its relations to technological development and various related notions, e.g. that of simulation, and the society of the spectacle.

Principal investigator: Piret Viires, research associates: Raivo Kelomees, Priit Kruus, Mari Laaniste, Virve Sarapik, Jaak Tomberg.

“Movements of Thought in the Twentieth Century”
Editor-in-chief Epp Annus

The 976-page volume published in 2009 provides an in-depth review of the most important thinkers and currents of thought in the twentieth century, with an aim to determine the role of philosophy in the shaping of contemporary cultural space. “Twentieth Century Movements of Thought” contains contributions from 33 authors.  

Topology and Texture of Estonian Literature. [Intersemiotic analysis]
Target financed research theme (2003–2007)

The main goal of the research theme was to outline a theoretical and methodological framework for the topological analysis of literature, mapping its general directions and its application in the research of Estonian literature. The research considered the construction of spatial and temporal relations in texts, the relationship between fictional and real worlds, problems of environmental aesthetics and literary ecology, the interference of different types of art, and the problems concerning the ontology of a work of art. The empirical material for analysis was chosen from Estonian literature and visual arts.

In addition to publication of research results, the project’s activities involved organizing two international conferences from the series “Koht ja paik/Place and Location” (2004, 2007), and the publication of four edited volumes in the same series, as well as compiling and editing the volume “Philosophical Movements of the 20th Century”, in order to provide a cohesive philosophical framework for research on Estonian culture. The research team members were the main organizers of the double conference “Texts in Adaption” as well as several seminars on cultural theory and environmental aesthetics (“Fictional and Possible Worlds”, “The Borderlines of Fantastic Fiction”, “How does the City Attract?”) and seminars for literary scholars in Nüpli (2005–07). In 2007, the team initiated a new interdisciplinary series of conferences and publications, “Etüüde nüüdiskultuurist / Studies in Contemporary Culture”, to engage with significant themes and works in current Estonian culture.

Principal investigator: Virve Sarapik, research associates: Epp Annus, Maie Kalda, Hasso Krull, Kaia Lehari, Timo Maran, Eva Näripea, Jaak Tomberg, Kadri Tüür, Piret Viires, Raivo Kelomees, Mari Laaniste, Karin Laansoo, Neeme Lopp, Katrin Puik, Andreas Trossek.

The problem of media-determinism and temporal-spatial realtions of the work of art
Estonian Science Foundation grant No 5965 (2004–2006)

The project set out to apply an integrated methodology to the analysis of temporal and spatial relations in different types of work of art, interference of art genres, and ontological problems of a creative work, influenced by the radical changes caused by the new technologies and the social status of the art.
The main topics that were studied:
– the dependence of a work’s ontology on its means of expression and the medium (including the relations of pictorial and textual representation);
– the construction of temporal-spatial relations in visual representation, and the connections between these relations and the narrative.
Principal investigator: Virve Sarapik
Research associates: Raivo Kelomees, Mari Laaniste, Karin Laansoo, Eva Näripea, Jaak Tomberg, Andreas Trossek, Piret Viires

Textuality and the Structure of the Work of Art 

Estonian Science Foundation grant No 4799 (2001–2003)

The grant project investigated the relations between pictorial art and verbal language. The research focused on the part of the verbal text in the structure of pictorial art and on its role in forming the meaning of the work. Special attention was paid to three aspects: the theme of the work of art as a text (pictured narrative), accompanying text (paratexts), and elements of script within pictures. The empirical material being studied was Estonian art in the recent decades (1980s–90s).
Principal investigator: Virve Sarapik
Research associates: Mari Laanemets, Mari Laaniste, Karin Laansoo

The “Place and Location” series

“Place and Location”, launched in 1998, was a series of interdisciplinary events and publications for research concerning human–environment relationships and representations of environment. During its 10-year run, five international conferences were held, resulting in the publication of seven edited volumes in the series “Place and Location: Studies in Environmental Aesthetics and Semiotics”. The initiators of “Place and Location” were Virve Sarapik and Kaia Lehari.