announcement: THE 17TH IGEL CONFERENCE IN LIVERPOOL, UK, JULY 1-4, 2020; see the call for papers--and more!

The Society's Mandate

The aim of the International Society for the Empirical Study of Literature (Internationale Gesellschaft für Empirische Literaturwissenschaft; IGEL) is to advance empirical literary research through interdisciplinary and international cooperation. The Society supports efforts to apply, or facilitate the application of, scientific methods to study of the structure and function of literature, especially its aesthetic function. Literature is broadly defined as all cultural artifacts that embody literary devices, such as narrative genre, stylistic variations, and figurative language. The domain includes novels, short stories, and poetry, but also theater, film, television, and digital media.

Aristotle Contemplating Homer (Rembrandt)

The principal responsibilities of the Society are to:

  • Disseminate information about empirical studies of literature (through its sponsored journal and by organizing biennial conferences);
  • Facilitate personal contact and collaboration among individuals around the world who are engaged in empirical literary research; and
  • Encourage skill development among undergraduate students, graduate students, and early career researchers in the field of empirical literary research.

IGEL was founded in 1987 and became a registered (non-profit) society in the Netherlands in 2010 . The Society's history reflects a rich tradition of international and interdisciplinary research.

A German 'igel'

As an international society, the IGEL acronym has two intriguing translations. First, in German, igel means 'hedgehog,' which explains the acronym and our logo. This motif echoes German contributions to the formation and continued support of IGEL (Internationale Gesellschaft für Empirische Literaturwissenschaft). Moreover, in Basque, 'igel' means 'frog,' which echoes the society's efforts to become a genuinely international professional association. Although heavily supported by researchers in North America and Europe, membership includes researchers from China, Japan, Israel, Brazil, and elsewhere. And, the most recent biennial conference was attended by researchers from 22 different countries.

A Basque 'igel'