Parallel panels, session 1

Thursday, May 13, 10:50 am (UTC+2)

Setup phase for presenters starts at 10:30 am.

1.1 – Digital Narratives and Global Crises: New Perspectives on Literacy and Agency

Roman Bartosch, University of Cologne:
‘Distance Learning’: Scaling (Digital) Narrative

Drawing on critiques in postcolonial and Anthropocene studies that challenge the tendency in ecological thinking to uncritically speak of humanity as a single, geological agent, the presentation interrogates educational frameworks (such as global citizenship education) and teaching objectives (such as climate or science literacy) in light of the concept of scalar literacy and transcultural competence. These concepts, it will be argued, are more capable of making productive use of inevitable tensions and incommensurabilities inherent to narratives of global crises. In a second argumentative step, scalar literacy and transcultural competence will be discussed with regard to their utility when it comes to forms of digital narrative and practices of remote education. With a particular focus on (the limits of) agency in this context, it probes into the idea that a reconceptualisation of ‘distant reading’ (Moretti; Harpham) potentially supports ways of ‘distance learning’ and scrutinises forms of collaboration and cooperation afforded by ‘creative climate communications’ (Boykoff) in participatory media ecologies. It will show that while educational modelling in sustainability contexts has so far focussed on individual agency, educational theory and practice need to rethink the role and potential of collaboration and cooperation as crucial factors for flourishing and societal transformation.


Roman Bartosch is Associate Professor of Teaching Anglophone Literatures and Cultures at the University of Cologne, Germany. He is author and editor of more than 10 books and over 50 scholarly articles and is interested in environmental and transcultural learning, inclusive education, and the intersections of literature pedagogy and literary theory. Recent publications include Interkulturelles Lernen mit Literatur: Fokus Nigeria (as co-editor; Klett Kallmeyer 2020) and, as editor, Cultivating Sustainability in Language and Literature Pedagogy: Steps to an Educational Ecology (Routledge, 2021).

Julia Hoydis, University of Graz:
‘Deep Attention’: (Interactive) Digital Narratives and Risk Communication

The freely available multi-platform videogame The Climate Trail (2019) is one of few serious games to date that deals with climate change. Modelled on the extremely popular The Oregon Trail (1974) and set in a post-apocalyptic America which has become uninhabitable after “the burns”, the game’s only agenda is to educate, shock and thus ‘move’ readers into action, rather than be a commercial success. Game designer and producer William D. Volk hopes that it will be played by “millions” in schools everywhere (Volk 2020). Players have to undergo a precarious journey on foot from Atlanta to Canada and survive through heat waves, food and water shortages, and other life-threatening dangers. Drawing on theories of risk and climate change communication as well as on experiences of teaching the game to students at university, this paper argues that The Climate Trail epitomizes three main challenges: (1) capturing viewer’s attention on climate change as a ‘crisis without end’, (2) finding the balance between “info-dumping” and fostering science literacy, and (3) allowing for the experience of immersion and agency in carefully scripted disaster scenarios. Finally, the paper critically interrogates the proclaimed potential of ‘cli-fi’ (still predominantly produced by and for the Global North) and what interactive digital narratives might have to offer in this context.


Julia Hoydis is Professor of English Literature and Culture at the University of Graz. Among her recent book publications are Risk and the English Novel. From Defoe to McEwan (De Gruyter, 2019), Representations of Science in Twenty-First Century Fiction: Human and Temporal Connectivities (as co-editor; Palgrave, 2019) and Teaching the Posthuman (as co-editor; Winter, 2019), as well as articles on contemporary drama and climate change. Her main research interests include literature and science, gender studies, and postcolonial studies. She is general editor of ANGLISTIK: International Journal of English Studies.

Daniel Becker, University of Münster:
#mystory: Hashtags, Narrative and Global Education

#blacklivesmatter, #metoo – In recent years, hashtags have become an omnipresent phenomenon in the global social media sphere and in the everyday lives of many ‘digital natives’. As such, they prominently influence the way teenagers and young adults interact in the digital realm today: Far from just being pragmatic tools for indexing conversations, hashtags shape current communicative practices (cf. La Rocca 2020) and play a pivotal role in establishing online identities and communities (cf. Zappavigna 2011).

With these important functions in mind, the presentation will take a closer look at the potentials hashtags hold for global education. It will be argued that hashtags (and the tweets and posts they subsume) inherently connect the local and the global and thus provide learners with the opportunity to become aware of the interdependencies between their own actions and contemporary global crises. Consequently, working with hashtags in the classroom holds the potential to foster learners’ global agency: as will be shown, hashtags establish highly fluid practices of narrative collaboration in which the act of sharing one’s personal story becomes an active contribution to negotiating global issues on a collective level. In hashtags, in other words, micro- and macro-narratives intersect and in this dynamic narrative sphere, individuals become authors who partake in the on-going process of writing and re-writing global discourses.


Daniel Becker is a TEFL-lecturer and Post-Doc researcher at the University of Münster. His research interests include digital media, inter- and transcultural learning and global education. He is currently working on a monograph on digital game-based learning in the foreign language classroom and has published articles on various topics related to teaching literature and culture in English language education.


1.2 – Science in Speculative Fiction I

Indrani Das Gupta, University of Delhi:
Worlding of Worlds: History of Assemblages in Select Postcolonial Indian Science Fiction Texts

The very idea of postcolonial science fiction ushers us into a contested and unstable terrain. How do we define this moniker of postcolonial science fiction? Underpinned by imperialist and colonialist political structures and mechanisms, is this category of literature to be understood as produced by erstwhile colonized states? Or, any science fiction narratives that seeks to reveal the imperialist logic of exploitation and silencing of the other, is to be included in this paradigmatic classification? This paper seeks to examine this categorization of postcolonial science fiction in relation to science fiction narratives written by Indian authors. In so doing, I seek to intervene in the processes of history and also, to extend the paradigm of postcolonialism to negotiate the contemporary times of multinational capitalism and globalization. The key critical term in this ‘thought-experiment’ of intervention that shall be used in this paper is the concept of worlding. Positioning selected texts like Amitav Ghosh’s The Calcutta Chromosome: A Novel of Fevers, Delirium and Discovery (1995), Vandana Singh’s short stories “With Fate Conspire” and “LifePod” from her anthology Ambiguity Machines and Other Stories (2019) in the confrontation of worlds and worlding to engage in the production of knowledge of humanness and what might transpire if we exceed the limits of our assumptions underpinned by global capitalist networks, this paper seeks to encounter the contradictions that riddle our understanding of the world inscribed by Euro-American perspective. To elucidate a political representability as underscored by the operations of worlding, these stories refute the teleological pretensions of Euro-American history to “generate new subject positions, fields of agency, and possibilities of action” (West-Pavlov 2018).


Indrani Das Gupta is presently working as Assistant Professor (Ad-Hoc) in the Department of English, Maharaja Agrasen College, University of Delhi. Currently pursuing her Ph.D. from the Department of English, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi, India in the area of Indian Science Fiction, she is engaged in the examination of the interface of science fictionality, paradigms of nation-state inflected with postmodernist and postcolonialist approaches, and the social variables that constitute the ontological human existence. Her areas of specialization are Science Fiction, Detective literature, Postmodern British Literature, Modern British Literature, Victorian Literature, British Romantic Literature, Popular Culture, and Sports Culture. She has published prolifically in international journals and books.

Christin Höne, Maastricht University:
Jagadish Chandra Bose and the Anticolonial Politics of Science Fiction

In postcolonial studies there are two main strands of argument concerning the legacies and effects of cultural imperialism on science fiction as a literary genre. The first strand presents a critical reading of Western science fiction of the nineteenth and early twentieth century as a genre that is deeply embedded in the discourses and ideologies of colonialism and imperialism (Rieder, 2008; Kerslake, 2007). The second strand presents a critical reading of the writing back of postcolonial authors, stressing the subversive elements of both science and fiction and their power to undermine dominant narratives of cultural imperialism and (neo)colonialism (Chambers, 2003; Hoagland and Sarwal, 2010; Langer, 2011; Smith, 2012; Varughese, 2013 and 2017). In this paper I focus on a piece of colonial-era science fiction from a non-Western writer: Jagadish Chandra Bose’s short story “Runaway Cyclone”. First published in 1896 and republished in an extended version by the author in 1921, I analyse how Bose’s story combines elements of science fiction and magical realism. I then argue that Bose turns the narrative tropes of Western science fiction on their head and thus undermines Western science as an epistemological tool of imperial control. Reading “Runaway Cyclone” alongside Bose’s non-fictional accounts on science in colonised India will then reveal a philosophy of science that embraces Western science and Indian philosophy, which in turn can be read as a politics of science that is in effect anticolonial.


Christin Höne is Assistant Professor in Literary Studies at Maastricht University. Her research spans modern and contemporary anglophone literature, with a particular focus on postcolonial literature, sound studies, word and music studies, and queer theory. Her current work focuses on the depictions of sound and sound technology in colonial literature and on the history of the radio in the context of imperial India. Christin is the author of the book Music and Identity in Postcolonial British South-Asian Literature (Routledge, 2015). Forthcoming publications include the co-edited volume Asian Sound Cultures (Routledge) and a co-edited special journal issue on the role of the senses in late colonial India (South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies). Christin has also published essays on soundscapes in postcolonial literature, the Bengali polymath Jagadis Chandra Bose, Bengali science fiction, the colonial politics of science, and music in contemporary literature.

Victoria Herche, University of Cologne; David Kern, University of Cologne:
Scientists and their Discoveries: A Postcolonial Reading of Ted Chiang’s Speculative Short Fiction

“What is the role of human scientists in an age when the frontiers of scientific inquiry have moved beyond the comprehension of humans?” (Chiang, “The Evolution of Human Science” 239). Thus asking, Chiang highlights the centrality of science and the significant position of scientists not only in a time of crisis, anxiety and insecurity, but in an age of scientific advance at a pace that already threatens to exceed the human scale and human sense-making capacities. Current moments of crisis (COVID-19, anthropogenic climate change) foreground hope and trust in the scientist as a 21st century saviour figure, yet also challenge this narrative and highlight the ambiguous cultural position of scientists viewed, just as often, with suspicion and distrust. Furthermore, scientific discovery as the last ‘uncharted frontier’ is historically grounded in the colonial fantasy of advancement, progress and development. Against this background, imaginations of and literary engagements with scientific discovery specifically invite postcolonial analysis and critique. In addressing issues such as (language) appropriation, exploration, scarcity of resources in his stories, Ted Chiang’s speculative short fiction can be read as a literary interrogation of the cultural and political significance of scientific discovery. By referring to selected short stories, it will be explored how Ted Chiang’s stories offer literary thought-experiments about human/more-than human scientists and their findings, reframing scientific discovery as circular, oftentimes paradoxical, and productively ambiguous against dominant cultural narratives of linear, teleological advance and utility in the globalized marketplace. Thereby we discuss how fiction is a critical tool to destabilize dominant cultural tropes and enables speculation about new theorizations of forms and functions of scientists and their discoveries.


Victoria Herche is a post-doctoral researcher and lecturer in the English Department at the University of Cologne and assistant editor of Anglistik: International Journal of English Studies. Since 2017 she has served as Public Relations Coordinator at the Centre for Australian Studies (CAS) in Cologne. After studying Theatre, Film and TV Studies, English Studies and German Studies at the University of Cologne, she concluded a PhD project on “The Adolescent Country – Re-Imagining Youth and Coming of Age in Contemporary Australian Film” to be published in Universitätsverlag Winter (2021). Her research interests and publications include Australian Literature and Film, Indigenous Studies, Post-Colonial Theory, Migration and Refugee Studies, Popular Culture and Psychoanalytic Theory.


David Kern is a researcher, PhD candidate and lecturer in the English Department at the University of Cologne, Germany. Since 2017, David serves as teaching coordinator at the Centre for Australian Studies Cologne. David’s interdisciplinary research in literary activism and other forms of cultural production as intervention focuses on Indigenous writing from Australia and North America. Within this focus field, David has published and taught courses on theater and performance, memorial cultures, commemorative practices, and environmental concerns. His central research interests and theoretical groundings are in postcolonial theory, ecocriticism, theories and criticisms of the Anthropocene and decolonization methodologies. David is currently completing his PhD project on Indigenous climate fiction (CliFi) from Australia and Canada.


1.3 – Narratives of Anthropology

Arunima Bhattacharya, University of Leeds:
Anthropology, Ecology and the Indian Nation State: Andaman Islands in The Miraculous True History of Nomi Ali and Glorious Boy

This paper aims to read two contemporary novels, The Miraculous True history of Nomi Ali (2019) by Uzma Aslam Khan’s and Glorious Boy (2020) by Aimee Liu set in the Andaman Islands, on the Bay of Bengal, in relation to the official anthropological documentation and interpretation of the complex socio-ecology of these islands, particularly in the context of the Second world war and the post-independence consolidation of the Indian nation state.

The Andaman Islands has a unique history of sustaining ancient forest tribes in their native environment secluded and yet in close proximity of the penal colonies set up by the British government and migrant communities from the eastern coast of India, Bengal and Burma. It also was invaded and occupied by Japanese forces during the second world war and finally handed over to the Indian government post-independence. Both these novels are set against the turbulent history of the islands in the 1940’s that sets this place up as a distinctive piece in the puzzle of setting up the Indian nation state.

This paper investigates how the island communities speak to mainland India through an archipelago politics of existence and seclusion in contrast of the connectedness of mainland mobility networks. Khan’s novel delves into the complex history of the Indian Ocean rim across South East Asia focusing on the British penal colony and its anthropological and ecological impact on the indigenous tribal population as well as the migrant colonies set up to support the business of empire. Aimee Liu’s Glorious Boy uses direct reference to anthropological methods of documenting experience of a different way of life, a protagonist compares it to, ‘entering a time capsule’. The novel form offers the exploration of the themes of community, migration and rehabilitation related to British empire and the later nation building processes through the spectrum of differently placed narratives.

The 1940’s was an exceptional decade in Indian sub-continental politics. It is during this decade that the Anthropological Survey of India evolved into a stand-alone body from its early roots in the Indian Zoological Survey, the Indian Museum and the Asiatic Society of Bengal (then the Royal Asiatic Society) in 1945. Anthropology was used as a tool to ‘scientifically’ document and interpret the Indian subcontinent. This institutional inquiry and knowledge assimilation were extended into classifying the local environment and relations between human settlements and the ecologies that sustained or confronted them. The anthropological Survey as its website states, contributed ‘to bring in harmony among the people, separated by the clashing interests of ethnic, cultural, and religious affiliations and to devise ways and means for the aboriginal and disadvantaged social groups to suitably adjust to the changing conditions in and outside the country, without jeopardizing their ways of life’. It was an institution dedicated to document the People of India through technologies of assimilating the country’s diversity within categories that broadly contributed to the idea of a consolidated Indian nation state. It is of singular importance that these assimilative processes were dealing with the territorially rooted communities like the tribes of the Andaman Islands as well as the different migrant settlements initiated by the global reach of the British imperial forces as well as mass migrations like the ones triggered by the partition of India into two independent nation states.


Dr. Arunima Bhattacharya is a postdoctoral research assistant on a AHRC funded project titled, The Other from Within: Indian Anthropologists and the Birth of a Nation at the School of History in the University of Leeds. This project involves academics from the Universities of Leeds, Edinburgh and Manchester and focuses on the contributions made by Indian anthropologists to global networks of research that aspired towards the reinvention of anthropology as a cosmopolitan, transnational discipline, and contributed to the process of decolonisation in India. She has completed her PhD in English Literature from the University of Leeds and was the Anniversary Fellow at Institute of Advanced Studies in Humanities (IASH) at the University of Edinburgh where she continues as a Visiting Research Scholar. Her forthcoming publications include a chapter titled, ‘Producing the Colonial Capital: Calcutta in Handbooks’ in Other Capitals of the Nineteenth Century that she is co-editing with Dr. Richard Hibbit and Prof. Laura Scuriatti from the Palgrave Literary Urban Series and a chapter titled ‘Everyday Objects and Conversations Experiencing “Self ” in the Transnational Space’ in Asian Women, Identity and Migration: Experiences of Transnational Women of Indian Origin/Heritage edited by Nish Belford and Reshmi Lahiri-Roy from Routledge.

Anna Auguscik, University of Oldenburg:
Encountering Strangers in Lily King’s Euphoria

In Lily King’s Euphoria (2014), a fictionalized trio of anthropologists embark on a professional journey to research the Tam, a native tribe on the Sepik River in New Guinea in the early 1930s. Inspired by the triangular love relationship between the historical anthropologists Margaret Mead, Reo Fortune, and Gregory Bateson, King’s protagonists – Nell, Fen and Bankson – allegorically represent the young discipline and its ethnographic turn. While their fieldwork promises to bear out much anticipated results, at the core of their journey as much as at the centre of novel’s interest lies the eponymous euphoric encounter with another ethnographer’s manuscript. Told predominantly in retrospect by the English anthropologist Andrew Bankson, the narrative thus exhibits several layers of encounters with constructed strangers: with one’s past self, with one another, as well as with the Other. In line with the dual meaning of the title of this paper and in order to draw attention to the novel’s reflective but ultimately repeating position on the asymmetrical subject/object relations between professional or knowing strangers and the unknowing other, I read Euphoria through the lens of Sara Ahmed’s critique of ethnography as a technique of knowing that produces and destroys its research object as well as one that transforms the stranger “from an ontological lack to an epistemic privilege” (2000).


Anna Auguscik teaches English Literature at the University of Oldenburg, where she received her PhD with a study of the Booker Prize. As a Fiction Meets Science research fellow, she has worked on the media reception of contemporary science novels, the scientist protagonist, and global dimensions of science in fiction. As a Junior Fellow at the Hanse-Wissenschaftskolleg, she is working on a project on “scientific expedition narratives” in contemporary fiction. Her research focuses on the novel in the literary marketplace and the relationship between literature and science.


1.4 – Under Construction I

Guðrun í Jákupsstovu, University of Berne:
Encountering Time: Understanding Deep Time Through Encounters and Interactions on the Beach

The ubiquity of the climate crisis has made clear that making sense of its many-formed challenges is not a matter purely reserved for the hard sciences to grapple with. While technical solutions are needed, the crisis also calls for a review of the structural narratives that have shaped our worldview through ages of empire, colonialism, and technological advancements. These are questions fit for the humanities to address. One of the challenges is that of understanding time in relation to climate change. As scholars and thinkers across the sciences and the humanities are adopting the term “the Anthropocene”, it forces a focus on geologic time that contextualises human history into a planetary history (Chakrabarty 2019; 2018). This project proposes that literary representations of the area between land and sea – beaches and coastlines – work as ideal sites for contextualising geologic time, and thus mobilize more tangible understandings of time and future in relation to climate change. The texts examined all feature engagements or encounters that take place in littoral spaces, that all, in their own way, spur tangible considerations on deep time and future. For example, through actions of beachcombing and engaging with objects found on the beach, such as fossils, flints, and plastic waste, notions of both deep past and unsettling “visions of eternity” (Pétursdóttir 2019; Boetzkes & Pendakis 2013) are invoked. Furthermore, encounters with the nonhuman in littoral spaces highlight parallel lines of earthly existence that bring forward a more-than-human history within a planetary scale. Drawing on theories of ecocriticism, postcolonialism, and new materialism, this project seeks to ask whether these engagements and encounters at the beach can mobilize tangible understandings of time in relation to climate change, and highlight questions of how empire, colonialism, and capitalism are continually intertwined and present in the age of the Anthropocene.


Guðrun í Jákupsstovu was in 2020 elected as one of the two doctoral students for the SNSF-funded project The Beach in the Long Twentieth Century, supervised by Prof. Dr. Virginia Richter and PD Dr. Ursula Kluwick. Prior to this, she obtained an MA in Comparative Cultural Analysis at the University of Amsterdam, and a BA in Comparative Literature at the University of Iceland. Her PhD project is a study of human, nonhuman and material encounters and connections on the site of the beach in contemporary literature. Her work draws on ecocriticism, new materialism and thoughts on deep time and the Anthropocene.

Sebastian Jablonski, University of Potsdam:
From Manifest Destiny to “Seagoing Manifest Destiny” – Pitcairn Island as a Case Study

In this work in progress chapter of my PhD project, I look at the establishment of US American imperial power on Pitcairn Island at the end of the nineteenth century. Specifically, I analyze the Seventh-day Adventist missionary actions described in the Story of Pitcairn Island written by Pitcairn Islander Rosalind Young, which resulted in the conversion of the islanders and acquisition of a firm foothold of US American influence in the South Pacific. I am looking at the missionary presence on Pitcairn through the lens of Roberts’ and Stephens’ Archipelagic American Studies and Kaplan’s “disembodiment of the [US] American nationalism” (Kaplan 96), which allows me to describe the missionaries’ operations as the extension of the US American archipelago of influence in the South Pacific. I argue that the Adventists’ actions, though a forgotten chapter of US American imperialism, are coinciding with the attempts at establishing US rule over the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi and thus are exemplifying Richard Drinnon’s “seagoing Manifest Destiny” (Drinnon 129). Pitcairn becomes a new and useful outpost/island of the US American empire represented by its Adventist envoys aiming at converting the indigenous peoples of the South Pacific. By situating the island within the framework of the archipelago of influence, I trace these actions as stemming from perpetual westward extensions of the US American empire fundamental for its power projection and world hegemony. In Pitcairn I analyze an example of this empire building in the South Pacific obscured by the more glaring example in the North Pacific – Hawaiʻi.


Sebastian Jablonski has earned degrees in Teaching English from the University of Warsaw and Anglophone Modernities in Literature and Culture from the University of Potsdam, for which he received a DAAD stipend. His research interests include ludology, archipelagic studies, and thehistory of nineteenth century Pacific colonization. The present abstract is a work in progress towards his PhD project titled Pitcairn Island as the Literary Intersection of British and American Nineteenth Century Pacific Colonial Interests.

Narges Mirzapour, Semnan University, Iran:
Homogenization from Post-Apartheid to Post-Covid19 South Africa (1994-2024): The Infinite Past in Future

African literary studies have proven to be a fast-growing subfield of postcolonial studies, one of the largest emerging disciplines in cultural and literary studies over the last thirty years. The collapse of the apartheid regime and the coming to power of Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress is a key event in recent world history. The central issue of my research proposal is the analyze of post-apartheid south Africa in three contexts, namely beaches, language and education, and the literary narratives of post-apartheid to post-covid19 era, so as to investigate whether, in reality, there is a change in condition of south African black people or not. By the investigation of post-apartheid beaches (case study is Cape Town), this research comes to know that although it is a place of holidays and happiness for whites, it is still a place which reminds one of colonial violence and dispossession for blacks, of the past (pre-apartheid) and its continuation into the present(post-apartheid). Then, the focus is on education policy in post-apartheid South Africa, and the problem of using mother tongue at school, funding, and curriculum. The last but not the least goes to more relevant issues of literary studies and focuses on analyzing some selected novels which are written after 1994. The post-apartheid literary works I will address in my research emphasize how those excluded from full rights and the protections of society based on race, class, gender, species, and so on continue to experience violence in contemporary South African life. To sum up, the last chapter of my PhD thesis is going to survey post-covid19 social inequality in South Africa, which can be compared and contrasted to post-apartheid Africa. Given the current turn of events all over the world, my project meets the needs to focus much more on how the color of skin determines the health parts of lives. To conclude, my research project aims to provide new insight into the post-apartheid area, to depict that the social inequality and exploitation are still prevalent in South Africa, in comparison with the post-COVID-19 era of South Africa.


Narges Mirzapour is an M.A graduate of English Language and Literature from Semnan University, Iran. Her research interests include cultural studies and the relationship between humanities and social sciences in general and postcolonial-feminism studies, identity crisis, migrant literature, and gender studies in particular. Currently, she is writing a research proposal in hope of finding a PhD position in Germany. Her work has recently focused on the power of media and language in forming cultural identities of Iranian women immigrant writers.