Concepts are indispensable tools for literary and cultural studies scholars. Far from serving only heuristic purposes, they fulfil a range of important functions: Firstly, concepts are historically determined cultural constructs that both shape and are shaped by the theories and cultures out of which they emerge. Moreover, concepts serve a purpose. They validate, question and subvert established power relations and hierarchies of norms and values; they construct and challenge knowledge (cultures); they are involved in the formation, dissolution and emergence of new research fields and disciplines.
The present volume on the reframing of concepts in literary and cultural studies bears witness to the fact that concepts are by no means stable entities. They are best understood as cognitive constructs and models for thought that travel between (academic) cultures, communities and disciplines. The ongoing trend toward internationalization and globalization in the humanities, the move toward greater interdisciplinarity as well as the growing influence of intermedialization processes on literary and cultural products and practices have involved a constant (re)framing of concepts, theories, models and methods. Against this backdrop, theorizing and analyzing conceptual transfers are crucial issues for understanding ‘reframing’ – that is, the implicit processes underneath the essential human practice of making ‘meaning’ and ‘worlds’.