Elias Güthlein

Proceedings opened on 28 June 2019

Dissertation Colloquium: 10 August 2020


Biographical information

  • Born in 1988
  • 2007: Graduated from the Schulfarm-Insel-Scharfenberg high school, Berlin
  • Studied Philosophy (2010-2013) and General Rhetoric (2010-2015) at the Eberhard Karls University Tübingen
  • 2013: Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and General Rhetoric
  • 2015: Master of Arts in General Rhetoric (with distinction)
  • During his studies worked at the Seminar for General Rhetoric as Student Assistant in DFG-Projects Sebastian Brant Personenbibliographie (2012-2015) and Repertorium der gedruckten deutschen Rhetoriken 1450-1700 (2014-2015), as well as a tutor in the Introductory Seminar (2013-2015)
  • Since October 2015: Lecturer at the Leibnitz Kolleg (Introduction to rhetoric)
  • Since December 2015: Research Assistant at the DFG Research Training Group 1808: Ambiguity – Production and Perception at Tübingen University



Research interests

  • Rhetoric (strategic communication)
  • Press advertising
  • Semiotics
  • Text theory
  • Visual culture
  • Ambiguity, obscurity and unambiguousness




»Rhetoric and enigmatic ambiguity« (working title)

Prose-, verse- and pictorial riddles are an integral part of our everyday culture and are usually associated with a playful intellectual pastime. In this capacity, riddle researchers criticise an atrophied stage, as until the Early Modern Times riddles functioned as a pedagogical tool of disseminating knowledge and clarifying insights on crucial life-world correlations. This criticism arouses the interest of rhetoric, which is looking for means of success-oriented communication, with which people can be steered in their political, economic and social attitudes.

Rhetoric sees the riddle as a stylistic obscuration that holds a firm place in the rhetorical tradition and introduces the research focus of the planned dissertation project – the ambiguity. In a broader understanding of the term, ambiguity does not only refer to ambivalence, but covers the whole spectrum of polysemantic or vague expressions. In a riddle, however, ambiguity interlinks the salient features that lead out of the darkness and as a reference structure eventually leads to the riddle solution.

Explaining this functional interaction requires showing how disambiguation incentives can be deliberatively set for the addressee. This is an especially pressing issue for camouflaged riddle structures – as in some cases of press advertising that form the corpus of the research project. This production-oriented motive of the research project leads to the research question that specifies the connection between the riddle, rhetoric and ambiguity: How does a riddle as a strategic text instrument work? Several tasks spring from this global research question that illuminate the conditions of text comprehension (1 a-b), as well as conditions of text acceptance (2a-b). First, to develop a production model for enigmatic ambiguity on the levels of language and image (1a). Building on this, to illustrate the construction method for enigmatic text-image-combinations (1b). Moreover, those potential influences of textualisation patterns (2a) that justify the statement about the relevance of the text strategy (2b) are to be filtered.




  • Since October 2015
    • Lecturer at the Leibnitz Kolleg