PhD students 3rd cohort

Gabriel Ascanio Hecker, M.A.

Gabriel Ascanio Hecker, M.A.
Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena
DFG-Graduiertenkolleg „Modell Romantik“
Bachstraße 18k | R. 107
07743 Jena
+49 3641 944-195

Curriculum Vitae

2005-2013 Wilhelmsgymnasium München

2013-2016 B.A. German Studies and Theatre Studies at the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich

2014-2019 Student tutor at the Wilhelmsgymnasium in Munich

2015 Student assistant at the “Bayerische Staatsoper 1933 – 1963” research project at LMU Munich

2016-2019 M.A. German Literature (focus on Modern German Literature) at LMU Munich

2016–2019 Student and research assistant of Prof. Dr. Susanne Reichlin at the Chair for Medieval German Studies at LMU Munich

2017 Two-month internship with the publishing group Droemer Knaur GmbH & Co. KG in Munich

2017-2019 Deutschlandstipendium scholarship

2019-2021 Postgraduate (remote) studies in Philosophy at LMU Munich, residence mainly in Vienna

Since 2021 PhD student at the ‘Romanticism as a Model’ research training group at Friedrich Schiller University in Jena

PhD project

Models of Romantic Irony: German Romanticism, Nietzsche, Post-Structuralism

In the Romantic period, irony became a central theoretical category. Its importance extended far beyond that of the ironic stylistic devices that were known since antiquity. One could say that irony became an intellectual attitude that shaped the works of many writers, especially in Early Jena Romanticism. Like many other aspects of historical romanticism, this ironical mindset can be understood as a reaction to the far-reaching political, social and philosophical disruptions that took place in Europe in the years around 1800. Since many of the great questions that these changes gave rise to appear unanswered to this day, (romantic) irony as a mindset and as an aesthetic device still offers a plausible response to these questions.
Based on these considerations, the focus of my PhD project lies on two prominent historical intellectual positions: the oeuvre of Friedrich Nietzsche and the post-structuralists of the late 20th century. Both text corpora exhibit what one can call ironist qualities: at least in parts, they are characterized by structures of self-reference and self-contradiction, which is also distinctive of historical Romantic irony. In contrast to the rhetoric device of ironic utterances, which can be rendered in a way that conveys what they actually mean, romantic irony does not allow such a reformulation or translation. Romantic irony does not aim to convey an ‘actual meaning’ that could be articulated – it rather reflects on the insufficiency of all articulation and consequently also ironizes itself (for example in Friedrich Schlegel’s ironical writings on irony). The skeptical positions of Nietzsche and the post-structuralists both question their own validity in language theory and in epistemology in similar ways. (For instance, any radical argument against the possibility of language to express truth is itself necessarily formulated in language.) In my PhD project, I examine selected texts by Nietzsche and the post-structuralists with the aim of shedding light upon their explicit and implicit, conscious and unconscious engagement with historical romantic irony. A prerequisite for this, of course, is to determine how ‘romantic irony’ is to be understood. Thus, in a nutshell, the research question of my project is: “What is romantic irony, and which role does it play in the texts of Friedrich Nietzsche and the post-structuralists?”
A model-theoretically informed approach promises to be useful and fruitful: On the basis of a broad ‘matrix’ of theoretical and literary texts from the historical period of romanticism, I aim to generate a differentiated model of romantic irony that reproduces the heterogeneity of both the theoretical definitions and the practical manifestations of the ironic in historical romanticism. With regard to the texts by Nietzsche and the post-structuralists, I want to examine a) whether and to what extent they discuss (romantic) irony, and b) whether and to what extent they feature irony as an aesthetical, rhetorical device. The models of (romantic) irony that a) explicitly are created or presented in the texts, or b) implicitly feature and come to life in them can then be compared with the model of romantic irony that will be developed in my dissertation. In this way it will be possible to show a) which position the examined texts ‘consciously’ take towards romantic irony, and b) in which ways romantic irony also ‘unconsciously’ affects them as an abstract model.



  • „Ironie im romantischen Kunstlied“ – öffentliches Gesprächskonzert mit Anna-Lena Elbert und Amadeus Wiesensee. Historische Rathausdiele Jena, 07.02.2023 (Konzeption, Organisation und Moderation inkl. Kurzvortrag)