Marcel Knöchelmann

I’m a writer and sociologist. Currently, I’m a Postdoctoral Fellow at Yale University with a Walter Benjamin Stipend. My scholarly interests are civil sphere theory, discourse ethics, and how the two can be used to understand authorship and literary fiction in society. In Spring 2024, I’m also a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Literature & Society Lab at the Czech Academy of Sciences. I received my PhD from University College London in 2021.

Literary Fiction and Civil Society

In my postdoctoral project at Yale University’s Center for Cultural Sociology I look at how literary fiction is an actor in civil society. Literature commonly assumes the role of a moral good; to be a reader appears to be of value; authors of grand fiction or poets are seen as valuable for the civility of society. But how so? What is literature’s relation to  moral discourse and democratic society? Is cultural intermediation really optimally defined in materialist terms? I try to find answers to such question in a series of case studies, looking at different authors as well as by conducting critical work on theories of civil society and discourse ethics. Find out more about the work on literary fiction and civil society here.

Poetry and Resonance Theory

In another project, I develop a mix of Resonance Theory and structural hermeneutics to better understand what separates poetry from other types of literature. Why is form so fundamental? How can the significance of meaning in poetry be captured sociologically? I use Hartmut Rosa’s Theory of Resonance to answer such questions. On the one hand, this clarifies important aspects in the sociology of literature that are currently missing. On the other, poetry itself can help us understand what moments of resonance are and how they are bound structurally. To this end, I use the work of Tomas Tranströmer to allow art to explain social theory. Find out more about the work on poetry and the Theory of Resonance here.

Scholarly Communication and the Humanities

In my PhD research at University College London I looked at how and why scholars in the humanities and the German Geisteswissenschaften communicate the way they do, and how structural issues affect this. I conducted several empirical studies during this project to determine the impact of the Research Excellence Framework in the UK, the Exzellenzinitiative in Germany, or developments of academic governance (internationalisation or drivers of excellence) on authorship and publishing practices. Find out more about this research on scholarly communication in the humanities here. Find my work on open humanities (instead of open science in the humanities) here, and why the traditional humanities need this dedicated discourse.

Authorship and Publishing in the Humanities_KnöchelmannPart of this research was published with Cambridge University Press as a short monograph in 2023: Authorship and Publishing in the Humanities. It is a concise critique of current authorship and publishing practices that centre on formalities instead of on scholarly substance. It opens with the question: what is the point of publishing in the humanities? The key category developed in the book is that of formal authorship. Find excerpts of the Authorship and Publishing in the Humanities here.

Authorship in the Sciences, Editorial Work, and Epistemic Injustices

During a first postdoctoral project at the DZHW Berlin (German Centre for Higher Education Research and Science Studies, 2021-23), I studied authorship and publishing in scholarly communication beyond the humanities. Research questions concerned how scientific knowledge is produced in society, and how professional scientific writers contribute to this form of specialised knowledge production. Another project looked at notions of responsibility and ethical conduct in publishing and editing scholarly journals in digital environments without professional publishers. This connected to previous work on epistemic injustices in scholarly communication and critical work on the so-called open access transformation. Further publications are, for instance, a large report on contemporary research cultures in Germany and a study on scientific writing.

Scholarly Interests


Reach out: marcel.knoechelmann[at]