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Linking cosmogonies to stories of extinction in literary and graphic narratives. The aesthetics and politics of nostalgic aitiologies

Subproject 9

Prof. Dr. Irmela Marei Krüger-Fürhoff
Institut für Deutsche und Niederländische Philologie, Neuere deutsche Literatur, Freie Universität Berlin

Liza Wyludda
Institut für Deutsche und Niederländische Philologie, Neuere deutsche Literatur, Freie Universität Berlin

Against the backdrop of climate change and loss of biodiversity, a rising number of literary and graphic narratives combine cosmologies and stories of (natural or cultural) evolution with scenarios of impending extinction of animal species and humanity at large. In order to tell these stories, literary texts and comics not only draw on mythical, religious and scientific aitiologies but argue aitiologically themselves by setting (diverse and sometimes mislead) origins as foundational for (past and future) doom. This temporal and causal ‘double vision’ is at the heart of the project and will expand and diversify the research unit’s understanding of aitiology.

The selected narratives deliberately amalgamate facts and fiction, combine images from diverse discourses and historical backgrounds, seek to poeticize explanations from the natural sciences, and offer experimental variations of traditional genres such as medieval bestiaries and the long poem. Focusing on examples from different languages, the project analyzes the media-specific ways in which these texts and comics convey the multiple temporalities and recursive strategies of aitiological storytelling and seek to turn nostalgic retrospection into aesthetic experience and political awareness.