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GCSC KNL | Prof. Florian Mussgnug (University College London, UK & University of Heidelberg, GER): "Transhistorical Speculative Fiction and the (Post-)Apocalyptic Anthropocene"

Part of GCSC (Graduate Centre for the Study of Culture) Keynote Lecture Series


Dec 06, 2022 from 06:00 to 08:00 (Europe/Berlin / UTC100)



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[Photo: Simon Faithful, Self-Portrait: Florida Bay, framed digital photograph, 2019]

Apocalyptic thinking is often described as reactionary or escapist. In this lecture, we will encounter a radically different, imaginative and progressive attitude towards the end of (the) world(s). Contemporary speculative fiction from Argentina, UK, Canada, Italy, USA, Australia, Norway, the Dominican Republic, and Zambia will provide us with examples of an apocalyptic imagination that is post-anthropocetric, critical and creative, situated and relational: a stance which preserves the ethical and political urgency of religious millennialism, but views apocalypse not as an unspeakable end-to-come. Instead, apocalypse becomes a dynamic marker of the fundamental unpredictability of post-holocenic societies and ecologies. As we will see, this idea of the apocalyptic runs counter to Eurocentric, teleological narratives of the modern emergence of the global. It seeks to revitalize and reformulate the bonds between constellations that are frequently cast as disconnected and incompatible totalities: past, present, and future; the global and the local; human and nonhuman nature. In this way, transhistorical speculative fiction holds the power to disrupt the knowledge practices and imaginative frameworks of anthropocentric mastery and to inspire new forms of aesthetic and political recalcitrance.  


// Prof. Dr. Florian Mussgnug (University College London, UK & University of Heidelberg, GER) Educated in Germany, Britain and Italy, he has been introduced to different and complementary ideas of excellence in scholarship and teaching. His double interest in literature and critical theory – originally prompted by an undergraduate degree in Philosophy and Italian at Balliol College, University of Oxford – has over the years evolved into a commitment to several disciplines and to cross-disciplinary inquiry. He is particularly interested in the emergent, cross-disciplinary framework that links comparative literature, the modern languages and the creative humanities. His research focuses on modern and contemporary literature in Italian, German and English. He currently works on radical artistic practice, the posthuman and on cultural representations of catastrophe and apocalypse.