NAVIGATION

English Department Heidelberg

Erlanger Poetik-Kolleg

International Gothic Association

Gesellschaft für Fantastikforschung

Peake Studies

The Silver Stallion

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Training

  • 2009 Ph.D. in English Literature [1]

  • 2002 M.A. in Cultural Anthropology

  • 2000/01 abroad at the University of Hull, UK

  • 1995- at Heidelberg University


Teaching

  • 2015 Guest lecturer at the Erlanger Poetik-Kolleg, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg

  • 2014 Seminar "Introduction to Fantasy Literature", English Department of Heidelberg University

  • 2012 Seminar "Introduction to Science Fiction", English Department of Heidelberg University

  • 2010 Seminar "Fantastic Pastures and Pastoral Fantasies", English Department of Heidelberg University


Conferences

Papers & Panels

  • "I think, therefore I'm lost: Secret and forbidden knowledge in early supernatural fiction" ("Vom Suchen, Verstehen und Teilen", Tübingen 2015).

  • "German-language SF/F", "Understanding Steampunk", "YA in Translation", "Dark Fantasy Around the World" ("Loncon 3", London 2014).

  • "Cyberspace as 'final frontier': Artificial and Virtual Space in William Gibson's Neuromancer" ("Writing Worlds", Wetzlar 2013).

  • "Damsels of Distress: the perilous women of James Branch Cabell" ("Gothic Limits / Gothic Ltd", Heidelberg 2011).


Publications

About the publications

  • "Distressing Damsels: Gothic Chivalry in James Branch Cabell's Biography" (2015)

    This English-language article focusses on the female characters in Cabell's work, along the lines of chapter III of my thesis "Verlorene Arkadien", but from a 'Gothic' or feminist point of view instead of a pastoral one. Also included is a discussion of several illustrations of Frank C. Papé.


  • "Cyberspace as final frontier: Artificial and virtual space in William Gibson's Neuromancer" (2015)

    An English-language consideration of conflicting concepts of cyberspace and hyperreality derived from chapter V of my thesis, including some remarks about ARGs.


  • Behind Twisted Woods of Thorn: pastoral themes in the Titus books (2010)

    This is a shortened and revised English translation of chapters IV.2-5 of my thesis. Back copies of Peake Studies can be ordered from G. Peter Winnington: www.peakestudies.com


  • Verlorene Arkadien: Das pastorale Motiv in der englischen und amerikanischen fantastischen Literatur — H.P. Lovecraft, James Branch Cabell, Mervyn Peake, William Gibson (Ph.D. thesis, Heidelberg, 2009)

    The introduction of this (German-language) thesis focuses upon a concise genealogy of pastoral and fantastic literature. In the course of several historico-cultural excursuses, prominent motifs shared by both traditions are explored: the Golden Age, sentimental glorification of childhood, the ageing or "thinning" (disenchantment) of the world, and the longing to trade that world against a happier, more vital one. Special attention is paid to the role of the Arcadian shepherd-god Pan as an ambassador of the ancient and the suppressed. The concept of "desideration" is introduced to describe the endeavors of characters in fantastic scenarios who go on quests for a reunion with what they think they have lost.

    Against this backdrop, the main part of the thesis offers a survey of four fictional worlds, illustrating the progression of English and American fantastic literature and the pastoral elements therein. As many of these texts have unfortunately been subject to only insufficient or partial study, the individual analyses are also meant to shed a new light on the former.

    H.P. Lovecraft's Dreamland stories are usually neglected as mere "Dunsanian imitations", but prove especially useful in explaining Lovecraft's ethic-aesthetic theory. His idealized depictions of childhood dreams serve as a protection against a world seen as pitiless and in decay.

    James Branch Cabell, in his Poictesme romances, merges his own biography with his fictional culture hero's and the history of humankind. His picaros' endless, circular quests through time and space subvert and parody the classic pastoral ideal.

    Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast novels interlock motifs of the pastoral and the Gothic tradition with those of the Bildungsroman. Thus, in his longing for freedom and a meaningful life, Titus Groan, the last Earl of Gormenghast, becomes a rebel against the restrictions of his unchanging, petrified world.

    Finally, William Gibson's cyberspace novels show a world spun out of control, haunted by simulacra and virtual spaces. The criminal underdogs of Gibson's future are constantly looking for ways to escape its boundaries, or to create for themselves a world of their own.

    In all of these scenarios, the search for an "Arcady Lost" manifests itself in the way concepts of origin, such as home, youth, tradition and past, are perceived by the protagonists, and how certain paradigmatic oppositions, on several spatial and temporal axes, are conceived and translated: town and country, now and then, culture and nature, artificial and real.

    Ultimately, the idea of Arcadia challenges the concept of the "authentic" and raises the question of man's place in these worlds; his ability to heal his world or his urge to flee it and his chances of ever completing his quest of desideration.

    The thesis can be downloaded for personal scientific or otherwise personal use: University Library | Rainlights Mirror (.pdf, 3.5 MB)






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