Relations of Desolation: Collectivity in Narratives of Environmental Crisis
This project focuses on a particular cultural and political turning point of the mid-late twentieth century, which historian Joachim Radkau has termed “the ecological explosion.” This proliferation of environmental discourse around 1970 gave rise to a wave of artistic and narrative works that addressed fears of imminent planetary disaster triggered by the pollution, degradation, and depletion of natural resources, or nuclear disasters. The planned monograph Relations of Desolation explores this literary turn by examining how Austrian and West German writers affiliated with the New Left imagined—and critically reflected on—“alternative” models of collectivity that could arise of the disastrous scenarios described by environmentalists. Focusing on lesser-known and understudied literary texts published in small presses and countercultural periodicals of the 1970s and 1980s, this project will reconstruct the broad spectrum of imaginative and critical works that attempted to envision an alternative society in the face ecological crisis.
Paul Buchholz is Associate Professor of German Studies at Emory University in Atlanta, USA. As a literary scholar, he studies modern and postmodern narrative texts as an imaginative medium that enables the critical reconsideration of dominant models of human community, as well as the imagination of new forms of collectivity. He studied German literature at the University of Wisconsin (B.A.) and Cornell University (Ph.D.). Between 2011 and 2019 he was Assistant Professor of German Studies at Scripps College in southern California, the University of California-Berkeley, and Emory University. His monograph Private Anarchy: Impossible Community and the Outsider’s Monologue in German Experimental Fiction appeared in 2018 with Northwestern University Press. This book analyzes the art of nihilistic monologue in twentieth-century literature in relation to the problem of social alienation and the idea of “community.”
Private Anarchy: Impossible Community and the Outsider’s Monologue in German Experimental Fiction, Chicago 2018; "Ecological Pessimism and the Pronouns of the Future in Nicolas Born’s ‚Radikale Ernte‘ (1975)," in: German Quarterly 92:3, 2019, S. 365–383; "Out of a Job: Giving Notice in ,The Tanners‘ and ,The Assistant‘,“ in: Samuel Frederic, Valerie Heffernan (Hg.), A Companion to Robert Walser, Chicago 2018; "Eco-Romanticism: Terézia Mora’s ,Der einzige Mann auf dem Kontinent‘ and the Re-reading of Marlen Haushofer’s ,Die Wand‘,“ in: Gegenwartsliteratur: A German Studies Yearbook 14, 2015, S. 147–169.
Die ökologischen Bewegungen in Österreich und Westdeutschland nach 1968 versprachen „alternative“ Formen des menschlichen Zusammenseins, die nicht auf Ausbeutung von Natur und Menschen beruhen sollten. Dieser Vortrag untersucht kritische Reflexionen zu solchen Versprechen der „Alternative“ in der zeitgenössischen gegenkulturellen Literatur.