Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Modern Foreign Languages
Daniel H. Magilow
Luis C. Cano, Sarah V. Eldridge, Amy J. Elias
This project examines a fascinating speculative genre of early German science fiction (or SF). Pioneered by speculative author Hans Dominik, the technischer Zukunftsroman (“technical utopian novel”) proved immensely popular throughout the years of Germany’s Weimar Republic (1918-1933). Various Zukunftsroman authors utilized ice “spaces” such as the Arctic or Greenland as key narrative settings. This project argues that literary SF ice spaces shared distinct qualities with the World War I battlefield as put forth in radical right-wing publications by members of Weimar’s “Conservative Revolution.” Conservative revolutionaries belonged to a loose collective of post-World War I intellectuals, philosophers and writers across a wide spectrum of Germany’s social milieu. These intellectuals often wrote of the conflation of Kultur und Technik (culture and technology) that they believed could best be fulfilled through warfare and on the battlefield.In an era marked by the battlefield’s ultimate failure to bring Germany glory, interwar SF writers intercepted and “perfected” the idea of the battlefield by transposing its qualities onto critical ice “spaces of intervention.” From the first Ice Age’s primitive hunting grounds to the farthest reaches of outer space, technological advances framed by bitter ice in the Weimar Republic’s SF novels signaled a selective embrace of industrialization and modernity tempered by conservative beliefs in Germany’s ultimate superiority among the republic’s intellectual elite. Nationalist ideologies just beneath the surface in mainstream culture and pulp SF literature became even more overt with the addition of ice spaces that symbolized both a return to the mythological “German-ness” of the past and highly idealized dreams for the present and future. Interwar German SF, and the ice spaces featured in so many of these novels, nudged the Weimar Republic’s already unstable political climate further in the direction of the far Right. This project situates works by mainstream SF authors like Hans Dominik, Hans Friedrich Blunck, and Otfrid von Hanstein in the literary tradition that eased the Nazis’ rise to power in the mid-1930s.
Hancock, Joy Marie, "Blood and Snow: Conservative Nationalism and Ice Spaces in Weimar Germany’s Science Fiction. " PhD diss., University of Tennessee, 2018.