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Futurity Now as Literary Horizon: Alexander Kluge's Cosmic and Global Miniatures for the 21st Century

GCSC Keynote Lecture, Prof. Dr. Leslie Adelson/ Ithaca, 04.06.2013, 18-20 Uhr


04.06.2013 von 18:00 bis 20:00 (Europe/Berlin / UTC200)


International Graduate Centre for the Study of Culture (GCSC), room 001, Alter Steinbacher Weg 38

Name des Kontakts

Telefon des Kontakts

+49 641 / 99-30 041


Prof.Dr. Leslie Adelson/ Ithaca

Termin zum Kalender hinzufügen



A polymath of European modernities and German critical culture in the wake of fascism, war, and genocide, Alexander Kluge is best known for seminal contributions to New German Cinema, social theory on alternative public spheres, and programming innovations in television. W.G. Sebald once likened Kluge, who has also been a literary author of experimental fictions since the 1960s, to Walter Benjamin’s angel of history on a dedicated quest for redemptive futures of possibility. Rather than rehearse a familiar tale of Kluge’s resistance to grand narratives of modernity, politics, or narrative itself, this lecture probes instead quirky relations between pastness and futurity—in dimensions both large and small—in the recent proliferation of prose pieces by one of the most dynamic public intellectuals in Europe today. Focusing on emphatically short fictions with high stakes from Kluge’s story collection Tür an Tür mit einem anderen Leben (2006), the lecture asks after the specific literary forms and narrative functions of futurity in Kluge’s storytelling practice for the 21st century. The analysis foregrounds two key subsets of the author’s literary production for a contemporary readership. Leslie A. Adelson will first address the form that futurity takes in the outer space of what she calls Kluge’s “cosmic miniatures” at the outer narrative limits of his future-oriented prose. She will then offer initial thoughts on the storytelling status of Kluge’s “global miniatures,” in which tales of Marx in London, Soviet remnants at Stanford, and cinema in the People’s Republic of China revisit the meaning of revolutionary hopes and horizons in the aftermath of 1989.

Leslie Adelson (Ithaca)

Jacob Gould Schurman Professor of German Studies and Director of the Institute for German Cultural Studies and graduate field member in Comparative Literature; Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies; and Jewish Studies at Cornell University (USA).

Main Research:

  • German literature from 1945 to the present
  • Emergent literatures often associated with minority and migrant populations (especially regarding Jews and Turks)
  • The conceit of futurity in German literature of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries


  • The Turkish Turn in Contemporary German Literature: Toward a New Critical Grammar of Migration, New York 2005.
  • Making Bodies, Making History: Feminism and German Identity, Lincoln 1993.
  • Crisis of Subjectivity: Botho Strauß’s Challenge to West German Prose of the 1970s, Amsterdam 1984.



GCSC Keynote Lectures

The GCSC Keynote Lecture Series is thematically conceptualized under the heading “Current Approaches, Theories, and Key Concepts in the Study of Culture,” and it is open to anyone interested in attending. To provide relevant topics for the diverse set of research interests pursued within the GCSC, the lectures in this series are positioned for an interdisciplinary spectrum of listeners and centred on current concepts, questions and theories within the study of culture. The lectures are oriented according to the research areas of the GCSC and deliver theoretical and methodological impulses.