Arnim Alex Seelig, PhD Candidate (ABD), German Studies, McGill University, Canada
In his dissertation, which is entitled “Mythos Kracht. Ironie, Utopie und Konservatismus in Christian Krachts Werk und Rezeption,” Arnim Alex Seelig analyses the fiction and essayistic prose of the Swiss author Christian Kracht, while approaching his works as literary treatments of salient topoi from seminal discourses about conservatism, which in Kracht’s texts are framed in, related to, and contrasted with utopian narratives through the use of irony. A particular focus of the dissertation—in the form of a chapter—is green conservatism, which Seelig explores in the form of a comparative study.
The chapter is entitled “Das Erbe des William Morris, oder grüner utopischer Konservatismus“ (working title) and concerns imaginations of an Other through utopian ecological scenarios. More precisely, using as his theoretical framework the Levinasian concept of alterity and the musings on romantic ‘ecotopias’ by William Morris, Seelig examines in this chapter the nexus among ecological utopias and the envisioning of social justice in ecocritical literature. He situates Christian Kracht’s oeuvre, particularly his more recent works Ich werde hier sein im Sonnenschein und im Schatten (2008), Imperium (2012), and Metan (2007, co-authored with Ingo Niermann), in the context of works by other contemporary authors, such as Reinhard Jirgl’s Nichts von euch auf Erden (2012), Dietmar Dath’s Die Abschaffung der Arten (2008), and Frank Schätzing’s Der Schwarm (2004), as well as Michel Houellebecq’s Carte et territoire (2010), Richard Powers’ The Echo Maker (2006), and Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom(2010). In close readings of these texts, Seelig shows how they thematize, advocate, and also problematize a paradoxical worldview, which can be referred to as utopian green conservatism, since it promotes the return to a pristine state of nature—which is depicted as being harmonic and just—through poetic visions that are utopian.