Sabine Noellgen, Ph.D Candidate, Germanics, University of Washington
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Project: Dissertation: Arriving in the Anthropocene: New Readings in an Era of Human Dominance
Advisor: Sabine Wilke
My dissertation entitled “Ankommen im Anthropozän: Neue Leseweisen im menschlich dominierten Zeitalter” (“Arriving in the Anthropocene: New Readings in an Era of Human Dominance”) concerns the role imagination plays when coming to terms with what has primarily been described as a geophysical era: the Anthropocene. In this new era, as a number of scholars in both natural sciences and history argue, human forces have to be acknowledged as the most important power in nature. In five chapters that represent what I call key aspects of the environmental debate (such as “Nahrung,” “Müll,” “Verschmutzung,” “Tiere,” and “Alarmbereitschaft”), I provide exemplary, close readings of the following texts and films: the Austrian documentary films Unser täglich Brot (2005) by Nikolaus Geyrhalter and We Feed the World –Essen Global (2005) by Erwin Wagenhofer, Werner Herzog’s documentary film Grizzly Man (2005), three prose texts by Wolfgang Hilbig, and, finally, Julia Schoch’s travel essay „Wo Venedig einst gestanden haben wird“ as well as Kathrin Röggla’s novel die alarmbereiten. My approach is interdisciplinary, as I bring perspectives from disciplines such as sociology, psychology, biology, environmental history and deep ecology in resonance with the chosen material. As my readings show, the films and texts discussed ask us to reconsider our relationship with non-human nature and to reposition ourselves as human beings in an increasingly environmentally degraded world.