The subproject "Partisans of the Word. The Fractured Ideas of Postmodernism" traces a genealogy of postmodern thought in the German-speaking region, which, in its discomfort with modernity, reflects modernity's social forms of imagination.

Apart from theories, the subject of this project are fictions sprawling on the fringes of public discourse, published by alternative small publishing houses like Merve and Matthes & Seitz or in subcultural magazine projects like Tumult or Konkursbuch. In these theories and fictions, not only the societal household of norms becomes problematic, but also what is commonly understood as society. Postmodern thought on the publicist fringes can be understood as a laboratory for social imaginaries insofar as the unsayable and the sayable, future and past are combined.

It is striking that this peripheral storytelling is fractured. Pre-modern and pre-rational images and figures are found alongside hypermodern fictions of the future, with left and right narratives dissolving into one another, too. Notions of revolt, partisan or demise function as ambivalent, moving terms, mediating between semantic divides.

Likewise, it is no longer possible to strictly separate what is still theory and what is fiction already. Theories make use of figurative representations, images, and fictional narrative forms, through which they become tangible and can be processed affectively. Conversely, theory penetrates literature: Characters of novels become diagnostic social figures of the times, they do not only read Ernst Jünger, but struggle along chiliastic apocalyptic scenarios suspended by promises of salvation.

Within this disorder of the semiotic material and its narrative forms of representation, the ordering structures of society are irritated—and thus become workable.

In short, the subproject is a different history of ideas of the late BRD. It aims to illuminate the narratives of the dark sides of reason and trace back their imaginary forms of processing.

Thus, it becomes a history of the forms of imagination, which aims to illustrate the role of fictions for the processing of crises of societal order.

It is a history of small forms, in which the essential is negotiated in paratexts, in sketches, aphorisms, discussion protocols or diary entries.

It is a history of the transfer of French theory and German thought, of factual and fictional narrative forms or of the transmission and reconfiguration of symbolic-political semiotic material.

Thereby, the subproject finally becomes a sociology of literature of intellectual thought and its stories of departure from and reversal of political affiliations.

Selected Publications

Carolin Amlinger: Männer in der Krise. Der fragile Körperzustand der Spätmoderne in der konservativen Gegenwartsliteratur (Tellkamp, Strauß), in: Internationales Archiv für Sozialgeschichte der deutschen Literatur (IASL) vol. 47/nr. 1 (2022). (peer reviewed) (in press)

Carolin Amlinger, Nicola Gess: Die Tücken der Wahrscheinlichkeit. Halbwahrheiten, Verschwörungstheorien und Ilja Trojanows Doppelte Spur, in: Tatsachen und Fiktionen. Die Frage nach den Fakten, ed. by Carina Breidenbach, Ines Ghalleb, Dominik Pensel, Katharina Simon, Florian Telsnig und Martin Wittmann. (in press)

Carolin Amlinger: Men make their own history. Conspiracy as counter-narrative in the German political field, in: Plots: Literary Form and Cultures of Conspiracy, ed. by Ben Carver/Dana Craciun/Todor Hristov. London/New York: Routledge 2021 (in press).
Carolin Amlinger, Oliver Nachtwey: Sozialer Wandel, Sozialcharakter und Verschwörungsdenken in der Spätmoderne, in: Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte vol. 71/nr. 35-36 (2021) (Verschwörungstheorien), pp. 13-19. Link
Carolin Amlinger: Kartographie der Paranoia. Konspiration, Kritik und Imagination in F.J. Degenhardts Brandstellen, in: Kulturwissenschaftliche Zeitschrift vol. 5/nr. 2 (2020). (peer reviewed) Link
Carolin Amlinger, Simon Spiegel, Solveig Nitzke, Andreas Anton und Johannes Pause) Verschwörungstheorien als narratives Phänomen, in: Zeitschrift für Fantastikforschung vol. 8/nr. 1 (2020), pp. 1-49. Link
Carolin Amlinger, Oliver Nachtwey: Sie stellen die Realität der Realität in Frage. Theorien von Ulrich Beck und Luc Boltanski eröffnen soziologische Perspektiven auf das Corona-Rebellentum, in: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 17 Feb 2021. Link
Carolin Amlinger, Nicola Gess: Schamanen gegen die Macht des Virus. Verschwörungstheoriker*innen als Sozialfiguren der Corona-Pandemie, in: KWI-BLOG 15 Feb 2021. Link
Carolin Amlinger: Heroischer Klimbim. Eine neue literarischer Generation junger Konservativer ist verzückt vom Untergang, in: Jacobin, 2 (15 Sept 2020). Link
Carolin Amlinger, Nicola Gess: reality check. Wie die Corona-Krise kriti­sche und weniger kriti­sche Theo­rien auf den Prüf­stand stellt, in: Geschichte der Gegenwart 01 July 2020. Link
Carolin Amlinger, Oliver Nachtwey: Sie haben noch etwas zu sagen, in: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 27 May 2020, p. N3. Link
Carolin Amlinger: "Rechts dekonstruieren. Die Neue Rechte und ihr ambivalentes Verhältnis zur Postmoderne", in: Leviathan vol. 48/nr. 2, pp. 318-337. (peer reviewed) Link
Carolin Amlinger: "Männerkörper und Textphantasien. 'Männerphantasien', literaturwissenschaftlich gelesen", in: Merkur vol. 74/ nr. 850 (March 2020), pp. 65-74. PDF

Further Information & Contact

University of Basel
Carolin Amlinger
Department of German Studies
Nadelberg 4
4051 Basel