PD Dr. Karin Höpker (FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg): “Fiction after Postmodernism – New Realism, Contagion, and the Dystopian Imagination in Margaret Atwood’s Work”

Monday, February 8, 2021: 10:15 – 11:45 a.m., online lecture
Zoom-Call ID: 999 7359 7159 (opens at 10 a.m. sharp)

Canadian novelist Margaret Atwood has long been hailed a dystopian visionary, who is both a contender for the Nobel Prize and a writer who freely makes forays into contemporary pop culture, be it through serial online writing projects, graphic novel collaborations, or a successful Netflix series. As part of the American Studies lecture series’ larger trajectory, I will discuss her work in the light of debates on New Realism and aesthetics, the functions of literary narrative after Postmodernism, and the politics of the dystopian imagination. Rather than using Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale-series, I propose a closer look at her ecocritical and pandemic fiction which uses a postapocalyptic premise and an “outbreak narrative” (Priscilla Wald) to raise ethical concerns about human stewardship and extinction.

PD Dr. Karin Höpker is associate professor of North American Studies at FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany. Her research focuses on history of knowledge and the novel, science and fiction, urban studies, and, lately, on the semantics of love. She has studied, worked and researched at Bowdoin College, Stanford, Princeton, and Indiana University, Bloomington. Her first book No Maps for these Territories (Rodopi 2011) combines contemporary spatial and architectural theory with literary studies and discusses historic imaginations of the city of the future in William Gibson’s work. Her second book project The Edge of Reason: Fiction, Risk, and Probability in American Antebellum Narrative investigates the emergence of risk, the rise of speculative capitalism, and how the novel becomes the predominant genre which responds to a new, collective sense of uncertainty. The manuscript has won the Habilitationspreis of the FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg.