This introductory chapter provides an overview of how representing cases in fictional narrative became an important touchstone for the development of German literature. The concept case refers to a particular way of thinking, administrating, and classifying that has gained epistemic relevance in various disciplinary and institutional settings. In the most general terms, a case allows the making of connections between a specific, discrete incident that it reports and a general form of knowledge to which it contributes. The particular way a case fulfills its function depends on the disciplinary context in which it appears; criminal cases are used for purposes different from medical or psychological cases. The chapter then looks at the constitutive contribution of case narratives to the establishment of new scientific disciplines, in particular empirical psychology and, more important, the formation of an autonomous discourse of and about literary fiction from the late eighteenth century onward.
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