DFG Research Training Group Globalization and Literature. Representations, Transformations,  Interventions

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Anna Sophia Nübling, M.A.

"The End of Space and Time." Globality in Perceptions of the Present and Visions of the Future, 1880-1914

Dissertation Abstract

In my dissertation project, I question the connection between the vivid discourse on the future in Europe and the USA around 1900 and people’s increasing awareness of processes that span the globe and transform it. Conceptualizations of globality in visions of the future are especially interesting in this regard. With that I aim to contribute to a history of ideas of globalization.

The project is based on the observation that 19th-century conceptions of the future describe and reflect processes that are understood as globalization today. Around 1900, the future became an imaginary space for global visions. The vision of the end of time and space, through which the earth would become “one single place”, was just one of numerous ways to imagine global futures. This example makes clear that talking about globalization uses and needs conceptions and models, which themselves produce part of its subject. Already around 1900, visions of the total unification of the world into a single integrated system of transport and media technology, of unlimited accessibility and access, were the motifs of an idea of globality (which would itensify or still be produced in the future) based on the analysis of current developments. In this sense, globalization as a historical process and as a "phantasm of literature" (Krajewski, Restlosigkeit, 55), are closely intertwined.

Beyond the level of content analysis, I would like to further examine this connection in the particular mode of (global) visions of the future: How precisely does the specific moment of historical globalization around 1900 shape this kind of approach to the present? The global visions around 1900 can be understood as attempts to develop figures of thought that deal with or resolve problems related to the differentiation of knowledge in all fields, as well as to an increasing complexity of the world. But what role exactly does the future play as a mode of thinking? What particular approach to the present, what types of reflection enable (and what options for action might open up) a (global) perspective for the future?

These questions will be examined on the basis of literary conceptions of the future and nonfictional or scientific texts that negotiate global futures and the historical conditions for their possible realization. I am further interested in theoretical discussions of the future, which reflect the possibilities and potentials of visions of the future. In addition, forms of very practical engagement with the future such as planning, handing down or communicating with the future are particularly revealing.

Short CV

Since 2018 PhD Candidate at the Research Training Group

2017: M.A. History, Universität Heidelberg

2014: B.A. History and Art History, Universität Heidelberg