"Contemporary American Risk Fiction"
Contemporary American culture is to a large extent shaped by a sense of shared risk, and fictional narratives across media have contributed significantly to this shaping power of risk, pushing the boundaries of what is imaginable about the future at any given moment. The project investigates the contribution of North American fictional texts to the converging discourses of global technological and environmental risks since the 1980s. Drawing on insights of risk theory and risk research in the social sciences and using the premises and methods of cultural and transmedial narratology, it analyzes and defines what we call "risk fiction" -- a corpus of novels, films, and graphic narratives that explore how technological and environmental global risks have affected individual and collective experiences in the contemporary world risk society. One of the key aims of the project is to establish the concept of risk as analytical category in the disciplines of literary and cultural studies, linking ecocriticism and science fiction studies to define and analyze risk fiction as emerging transmedial genre. Four subprojects focus on specific narrative articulations of the risks addressed, and together develop a conceptual framework for understanding the aesthetics, poetics, and ethics of risk fiction as a genre. In doing so, they break new theoretical and methodological ground within literary and cultural studies, contribute to interdisciplinary risk research in the humanities, and make a new corpus of texts available for further research.
Time Frame: 2015 – 2018