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5.3: Slot 5-C
Freitag, 20.09.2019:
13:30 - 15:00

Chair der Sitzung: Matthias Grotkopp, Freie Universität Berlin
Ort: C (Seminarraum III)
Institut für Theaterwissenschaft, Grunewaldstr. 35, 12165 Berlin

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The Collapse of Meaning in R. Scott Bakker's 'The Second Apocalypse'

Janine Leona Schleicher

Freie Universität Berlin, Deutschland

Much like the experience of hope in eucatastrophe was central to J.R.R. Tolkien’s work, philosophy and conception of fantasy, the death of meaning is at the base of R. Scott Bakker’s writing and thinking. Instead of faith, he preaches doubt in historically collective belief systems as well as the idea of human consciousness itself.

This paper aims to examine the ways in which the secondary world of his THE SECOND APOCALYPSE series (2004-2017) is informed by discoveries of modern neuroscience and current issues in the Philosophy of Mind, constructing an intradiegetic metaphysical system within which inaccessible theoretical concepts can be explored in an interpretative space.

Telling the detailed story of a religious war and global unification under one prophet and leader, Bakker introduces Gods, sorcery and an ancient alien race whose arrival has shaped events for thousands of years. This universe permeated by ontologically objective meaning and morality engenders an affective experience of philosophical ideas, acknowledging that genre fiction and its mythopoeic creations are uniquely positioned to generate meaning in a disenchanted world.

Ghosts in Love and Haunted Romantics

Zuzana Zoubková

Masaryk University, Czech Republic

On the shelves of bookstores, we sometimes encounter stories presented as mimetic by their authors or publishers. However, we can also read them as non-mimetic because there is something different in them; they include a fantastic element.

It is well known we are influenced by our expectations for the text. Cognitive scientists write about repetitive patterns, schemes or scripts in our minds. In other words, when the reader wants to read a romantic novel, he or she focuses primarily on the romantic plot. Thus, he or she can miss another meaning of the text, another point of view, something different... perhaps something fantastic.

In this paper, I want to introduce several novels (mostly by British writer Barbara Erskine) which are presented as adventurous or historical romances; on the other hand, there is very significant use of fantastic elements in these books (mostly ghost or other supernatural beings). I believe they raise some interesting questions.

Can we consider these texts fantasy? And answer is, yes, we can. According to David Langford’s definition in Encyclopaedia of Fantasy, our paranormal romances about ghost or druidism could be held for trivial form of urban fantasy in its modern sense. For this reason, I want to analyse the importance of a fantastic element in these novels beside their primarily romantic (or adventurous) plot.

The next question is about romantic feelings and relationships in trivial and serious fantastic literature. Are they so different? Maybe not... Admittedly, we could find the same types of incredible love stories in G. R. R. Martin’s and Barbara Erskine’s books. So where is the difference between their representations?

In the paper, I will consider if some romance novels for women with supernatural elements can be understood as a subgenre of urban fantasy, how fantastic elements work here, and in which way representation of romantic relationships in trivial and serious fantasy are different.

“The meagre by the meagre were devour'd”: Zombie Origins in Romantic Apocalypse

W. Tracy Dillon

Portland State University, United States of America

Romanticists will recall that Byron’s 1816 summer camp at Geneva produced at least two of the enduring fantastic monsters of our time: M. Shelley’s Frankenstein’s creature and Polidori’s figure of the Vampyre. Globally, a more terrifying event occurred, the eruption of Mt. Tambora a few hundred miles east of Java and over 7,000 miles away from Lake Geneva, marking 1816 as “The Year Without a Summer.” News of the eruption did not reach Europeans, Canadians, and Americans in time to explain why their local skies were growing ashen, their crops and livestock dying. The world over, newspapers were reporting End Times. This is the mood that produced Frankenstein's creature and the Vampire. The proposed paper argues that popular figure of “the zombie” deserves claim to the same Romantic lineage, specifically via transmission from Byron’s poem of that summer, “Darkness.” Many assume that the zombie is a relatively recent literary invention. However, the term, Zombi was coined into English by Byron’s contemporary, Robert Southey, in History of Brazil (issued serially between 1810-1819). Southey’s history describes the leader Zombi, a freedom fighter from the tribes of Palmares. Postcolonial readings now recognize the zombie as the imagined boogie-man of colonial agents who fear that slaves will become a creation that they presumed to control, but that becomes a fierce enemy. Southey’s history exemplifies this attitude. Moving from the premise that both Frankenstein’s Creature and the figure of the Vampire clearly grow from monstrous and fantastic origins in Romanticism’s “Year Without a Summer,” the paper argues that the figure of the zombie also originates in Romanticism. Analysis of texts by major and lesser figures will illustrate how Romantic writers used zombies and cannibalism to allegorize imperialism and the colonial enterprise.

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