Research II

(Post-)Apocalypse in Hispanic literature

My new PostDoc project, "Apocalypse (Not) Now. Literary Proposals for Surviving the Anthropocene," has been supported by a grant from the Research Pool of the University of Fribourg for a research stay at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York (Fall Semester 2022): The motif of the end of the world –going back to the biblical apocalypse– has a long tradition in literature, and various events in human history that can be read as apocalyptic have made it a recurring theme (cf. Parkinson Zamora 1989). In the Hispanic context, for example, one might think of the conquest of Spain by the Moors or the colonization of the Americas by the Spanish, which represented apocalyptic events for the autochthonous populations. The main objective of the research project is to offer an in-depth examination of recent works of Spanish and Latin American prose, in which the authors sketch a world of decay and de(con)struction by considering different contemporary events (three thematic axes: a. Climate change/Ecological disaster, b. Pandemics, and c. Posthumanism). Their texts address, among other things, the impact of globalization, new technologies, and migration on literature, with the aim of demonstrating the complex relationship between apocalyptic events and the nuanced literary responses of contemporary Hispanic prose. Of particular interest is the evolution of the concept of (post-)apocalypse, which is why the corpus of contemporary works and the complex relationship of the texts to the sources (such as the biblical apocalypse, the eschatological pre-Columbian myths, the apocalyptic chronicles, the construct of civilization and barbarism, or the dictatorial novels, etc.) - quotation, parody, subversion - will be analyzed.

The corpus under investigation will be subjected to both a textual-social-critical (close reading) and a formal-lexical (distant reading) textual analysis, which will make it possible to identify the multitude of textual, symbolic, and ideological markers involved in the construction of apocalyptic ideas in their specific geographical, historical, and social contexts. In this regard, this overcoming of the categorical separation of close and distant reading and the merging of comprehending reading with computer-assisted textual data analysis represents a novel approach to literary studies that has come to be known as 'scalable reading' (see Weitin 2017, pp. 1-2).

Parkinson Zamora, L. (1989). Writing the Apocalypse: Historical Vision in Contemporary U.S. and Latin American Fiction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Weitin, T. (2017). Scalable Reading. Zeitschrift für Literaturwissenschaft und Linguistik. 47. 1-6.