The Research Group

What is fascination, how can it be generated, represented or staged and what role does it play in today's media and information society? That something fascinates often seems beyond dispute, however the specific ways in which this happens and what prerequisites have to be created to generate fascination are largely unknown. Is fascination an artistic, social, biological or cultural phenomenon? What role does fascination play in cognitive processes? How does fascination relate to neighbouring concepts such as enthusiasm and motivation, or to (seemingly) contrary areas like boredom or indifference? And finally – how, if at all, can fascination be directed or measured?


Fascination can be used in very deliberate ways to generate – say, for advertising purposes – a certain desire or to evoke a sense of community that has an identity-establishing effect. At the same time, fascination raises the question of the connection between ethics and aesthetics, which surfaces in the strong appeal of certain media events in the digital age. What are the limits (if any) to fascination; what may, or may not, cast a spell over us?

The Research Group deals with these and other questions, and it investigates 'fascination' from an athropoligical, sociological, psychological, literary-artistic and cultural studies perspective. In doing so, the focus is on the significance of fascination in today's information society.


Fascination with the Unknown: The Other

Understanding others is one of our basic abilities and fundamental to social life. Yet, the question of how we understand and feel with others has been approached and answered differently by the scientific disciplines. The arts follow different strategies in putting their respective audience in the position of others.

The conference “The Fascination with the Unknown: The Other”, organized by members of the German Young Academy, brings together artists and scientists from different fields to enter a dialogue on the common yet mysterious phenomenon of understanding each other.

With the workshops, performances and talks, the symposium aims at integrating each participant’s valuable insights into an experience that is more than the sum of the individual contributions.

The conference is fully funded.

Photo gallery of the conference "Fascination with the Unknown: The Other", October 2016


Photo competition

© Oday Mansour

The RG Fascination organized a photo contest entitled "Visions and Images of Fascination: Sciences and Humanities Visualised" together with partnering Young Academies. For more information, please visit the contest's website  Visions and Images of Fascination


Past events

The interdisciplinary conference "To boldly go where no man has gone before: The Fascination with the Unknown: Time" took place in Berlin on July 9-11, 2015.

Call for Papers







  • Ulrike Endesfelder


    Ulrike Endesfelder
    Max-Planck-Institut für terrestrische Mikrobiologie & LOEWE Zentrum für Synthetische Mikrobiologie
    Ulrike Endesfelder more
  • Sibylle Baumbach

    Sibylle Baumbach
    English Literature and Cultural Science
    Leopold-Franzens-Universität Innsbruck (Österreich)
    Sibylle Baumbach more
  • Lena Henningsen

    Lena Henningsen
    Chinese Studies
    Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg
    Lena Henningsen more
  • Kirill Dmitriev

    Kirill Dmitriev
    Arabic Studies
    University of St Andrews (UK)
    Kirill Dmitriev more
  • Lisa Kaltenegger

    Lisa Kaltenegger
    Cornell University, Ithaca (USA)
    Lisa Kaltenegger more
  • Klaus Oschema

    Klaus Oschema
    Mediaeval History
    Ruhr-Universität Bochum
    Klaus Oschema more
  • Henrike Moll

    Henrike Moll
    University of Southern California, Los Angeles (USA)
    Henrike Moll more
  • Simon Lentner

    Simon Lentner
    Mathematics / Theoretical Physics
    Universität Hamburg
    Simon Lentner more
  • Katharina Heyden

    Katharina Heyden
    Evangelical Theology
    Universität Bern (Schweiz)
    Katharina Heyden more
  • Philipp Kanske

    Philipp Kanske
    Technische Universität Dresden
    Philipp Kanske more
  • Kai Wiegandt

    Kai Wiegandt
    English language and literature
    Freie Universität Berlin
    Kai Wiegandt more
  • Miriam Akkermann

    Miriam Akkermann
    Musicology/Sound Art
    Universität Bayreuth
    Miriam Akkermann more
  • Bettina Keller

    Bettina Keller
    Theoretical Chemistry
    Freie Universität Berlin
    Bettina Keller more
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