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Forms and Practices of Seriality in the ARD Police Procedural Tatort

Sub-Project 1

The police procedural Tatort, aired by public broadcaster ARD and tailored to the federal organization of regional public broadcasters in Germany, has been in production since 1970. The series therefore lends itself particularly well to an investigation of popular seriality by means of both synchronic and diachronic comparisons. The research project develops an analytical grid (or "raster") for serial practices employed by Tatort, systematizing these practices according to their function (particularly as strategies of distinction). With the help of this grid, a history of serial forms and practices can be reconstructed for Tatort both within the serial arcs produced by particular regional broadcasters and in the overall program with regard to the inter-serial competition of broadcasters.

Furthermore, the research project analyzes reviews of select serial arcs in national daily and weekly newspapers in order to identify continuity and change in the public standards of successful seriality. Insofar as the series' reception reflects and guides conceptual reorientations, it has always been influential on the program's aesthetics. This is true for Tatort's adjustments to changing times and target audiences as well as for its regional differentiations. The project investigates this feedback between serial reception and serial aesthetics.

Altogether, our diachronic and synchronic analysis of the police procedural Tatort aims to draw conclusions about the conditions and forms of serial variation that can be generalized for other serial formats as well.

Director: Prof. Dr. Claudia Stockinger, German Philology, Göttingen
Fellow: Prof. Dr. Stefan Scherer, German Philology, Karlsruhe
Research Associate: Dr. Christian Hißnauer, German Philology, Göttingen