Tune In To Radio Utopia: A Radiophonic Topography of SF Horspiel

Roessler, Gerrit, German - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Kaiser, Volker, Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures, University of Virginia
Bennett, Benjamin, Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures, University of Virginia

This study aims to trace various forms of the Utopian impulse as it manifests in the radiophonic imagination of science fictional worlds. Utopias are defined as self-contradictory critical constructs that are at once impossible and necessary. Science fiction (SF) is treated as a mode of critical reading rather than a genre.

By approaching Bischoff’s Hallo! Hier Welle Erdball! as a science fictional text, various intersections of SF and the Utopian are uncovered. The remaining chapters apply these concepts of Utopia and science fiction to specific plays to establish their affinity to dramatic sound narrative. Specifically, this study examines the voice and its role in forming: massive social bodies of shared communal identity in Franke’s Papa Joe & Co; cybernetic narration and its effects on objective knowledge of truth and reality in Jelinek’s Die Bienenkönige; sound recording as prosthetic memory and representation of actual and non-actual events in Horstmann’s Die Bunkermann-Kassette; and dream as analytical metaphor for the visualization of sound narratives and its effect on autonomous judgment and absolute communication in Fassbinder’s Keiner ist böse und keiner ist gut.

The analysis suggests that these radio plays treat science fiction as an inherently critical practice that allows for an in depth exploration of Utopian desires. Conceived as a topographical exploration of Utopian space, which is a liminal realm in between the actual and the non-actual world, this study is situated at the intersection of literary, sound, and media studies. It employs the theoretical approaches of scholars such as Jameson (utopian studies), Chu (science fictional mimesis), Kittler and Hayles (technocriticism and posthumanism), Ryan (narratology), Sterne (sound studies), as well as more traditional approaches by Bloch, Adorno, Benjamin, and Foucault.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Utopia, radio drama, science fiction, SF, posthumanism, digital humanities, radio, Jelinek, Horstmann, Fassbinder, Franke
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