Digital Journal for Philology
Special Issue # 4
Following terminological und genre-typological developments in recent fantasy research, this special issue is dedicated to aesthetic techniques of fantastic fiction with special respect to the aspect of hybridity. Therefore, it considers techniques that produce fantasy as well as techniques that accompany it, from the perspective of both a history of research and motives of fantasy, just as regarding its themes and the consideration of inter-medial approaches.
The overarching topic of this special edition, or rather the conference from which it arose, is »techniques of the fantastic«. Indeed, fantastic is hardly conceivable without its techniques: not just as a story world element, for example in science fiction or in various forms of fantasy, but particularly as procedures of fantastic alienation and the creation of hybridity. The contributions in this special edition thus focus less on other (especially motivic and diegetic) aspects than on the area of aesthetic process and production techniques of the fantastic. At the same time, this focus on techniques puts an interesting bracket around two aspects that are reflected in all articles: (1) techniques that produce the fantastic and (2) techniques that are accompanying the fantastic.
This article not only gives a brief introductory review of the topics, strategies and history of fantasy (research) but also discusses David Mitchell's latest novel Slade House to show how fantasy and postmodern metafiction merge into a hybrid genre. Müller concludes by exposing how much ingenuity and narrative know-how it takes to extract innovative effects from literary fantasy.
This article discusses how the technique of »assemblage«, which is so present in fantastic literature today, allows to create realities in which human beings are no longer the rulers of nature and technology, but only part of it. Drawing on feminist approaches (Braidotti, Haraway, Lowenhaupt, Tsing), Lötscher understands »assemblage« as collections of heterogeneous entities and materials - people, animals, plants, machines and artifacts of all kinds - that are organized neither hierarchically, dialectically nor as an organism, but that become productive in a polyphonic form of touch and transformation . Through analyses of Jeff Vandermeer's novels Annihilation and Borne, Aliya Whiteley's The Beauty, and M. C. Careys The Girl with all the Gifts, Lötscher eventually raises the question of »what« thinks, feels and acts in the figures under these circumstances: the human or rather the fungus, the lichens, the spores?
The term It-Narratives encompasses a body of texts that were most widespread in Britain at the end of the 18th century. They can generally be understood as object narratives that are characterized by the fact that the objects of the narrative are themselves the autodiegetic narrators of their stories: coins, books, items of clothing and the like tell the stories of their circulation through human societies. Due to this configuration these texts occupy an apparently paradoxical position on the spectrum between ›realistic‹ and ›fantastic‹ literature. On the one hand, they are non-mimetic narratives in the sense that the narrative situation is based on the fantastic hypothesis of a reporting object. On the other hand, this narrative position of the allegedly objective and impartial view of the object always tends to obliterate the effect of epistemic-ontological uncertainty on which the mode of reception of the fantastic would be based in the narrow sense. Stevanović's contribution takes this paradoxical configuration as an opportunity to examine these unique narrative technologies through which this speculative space is kept open.
Science fiction occupies a special position within technology discourses because – in contrast to the non-fictional parts of the discourse – it can use strategies of the fantastic to deal with a technical topic. This includes, amongst others, technologies of the fantastic that take up and substantiate metaphors, which are then, charged with new connotations, fed back into the discourse. This can be demonstrated particularly well in the robotics discourse, in which originally human working conditions were reified and alienated in the form of the robot. By mechanizing the person or personifying the machine, the abstract human-machine relationship can be represented tangibly through characterization strategies in literary texts. Examining the robot in Boy Lornsen's Robbi, Tobbi und das Fliewatüüt and its adaptations between 1967 to 2016, this article demonstrates that the altered relationship between man and machine can also be deduced from the change in the robot’s representation in these works over time.
This article explains why it is meaningful to approach opera through the lens of the fantastic. Discussing recent opera productions, Coelsch-Foisner shows how fantastic parameters can contribute to understanding the genre of the opera and, conversely, how the opera can offer models for researching the fantastic. The key interest of this article is directed towards productions and the way in which what Coelsch-Foisner calls »operatic imperative« occurs on stage and under which conditions. For this purpose, the article analyzed data and material from Coelsch-Foisner's »PLUS Kultur« project at the University of Salzburg, in the context of which she has been holding public events for more than a decade on the basis of current cultural, predominantly theatrical productions.