Polar Worlds: Literary Fictions of Polar Exploration from E. A. Poe to C. Ransmayr (Modern German Literature)
Hanna Maria Hofmann completed her M.A. in German Literature, General and Comparative Literature, and Philosophy in 2008. She has studied at the Technical University Berlin, Humboldt University Berlin, the University of Pisa, and was also a student of Visual Communications at the University of Arts in Berlin. She has been a research assistant and lecturer at the Department of German Philology, General and Comparative Literature at the Technical University Berlin, was manager of ‘Campusradio’, an on-line radio project at the Department of Communication Sciences (TU Berlin) and has worked at RBB (Radio Berlin Brandenburg). Hanna’s research interests include literary polar fictions, cultural polar fantasies, expedition/exploration literature in the USA and Europe from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries, the works of E.A. Poe, Georg Heym, Alfred Döblin, Christoph Ransmayr, European Romanticism, and ‘Writing Sorrow’ – contemporary literary concepts of loss andVerlustbewältigung. Lecture (published 2008): Crisis of the Mythological? The Melting of the Polar Ice in Greenland in Alfred Döblin’s Berge Meere und Giganten
Polar discovery as a literary theme is located between fact and fiction, between realpolitikinterests and metaphorical/fantastic issues. But what does this mean to nineteenth and twentieth-century fictional narratives of polar exploration? How does literature relate (and react) to actual polar exploration? How do fantasies of polar exploration deal with the idea of blank spaces at the ends of the world as both metaphorical places and spaces of discovery and exploitation? And what are the special connections, interferences and contradictions between these two levels?
This project critically examines such questions with respect to selected novels written by Edgar Allen Poe as well as by two groups of German authors: those writing between 1910 and 1925, and those writing at the end of the twentieth century. The central concerns of my study are, firstly, the tracing of the core characteristics of a modern poetic of fictional polar journeys, and, secondly, the embedding of particular analyses into both historical/national backgrounds and into a reconstruction of contemporary discourses of conquest. This project also takes a historical perspective, focusing on the literary and cultural relatiosnhips between Poe’s polar fiction and German polar fictions of the twentieth century as well as on developments within German literature during this period.