Theses Doctoral

Keeping Time in Place: Modernism, Political Aesthetics, and the Transformation of Chronotopes in Late Modernity

Radisoglou, Alexis

In this dissertation, I identify a conspicuous shift in the formal articulation of time and space in modernist literature and film of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. This “transformation of chronotopes,” I argue, has important historical, political, and aesthetic implications that have to do with a critical negotiation of our – and art’s – being-in-history in late modernity. In case studies on the work of Theo Angelopoulos, Heiner Müller and Alexander Kluge, I demonstrate that literary and cinematic time-space articulations function as both formal sedimentations of and antagonistic aesthetic responses to a transformed understanding of time, space and the historical process in the wake of the world-historical transformations around and after 1989 as well as in an age of globalization.

All three authors are centrally concerned with the precarious status of modernity and futurity today – with the question, that is, of what happens to the constitutively modern promise about an “open future” amid a wide-spread exhaustion of the historical imagination in European societies, amid hyper-acceleration in the fields of technology and the economy, and amid manifold processes of systemic autonomization that undermine concepts of human praxis and self-determination. Interrogating the conditions of possibility for a contemporary political aesthetic – can there be a conjunction of art and politics today? – Angelopoulos, Müller and Kluge are informed by and draw on different forms of modernist political aesthetics of the early 20th century in their engagement with the present and thus also pose the question about the continued relevance, the legacy and timeliness of political modernism today.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Germanic Languages
Thesis Advisors
Huyssen, Andreas A.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
October 15, 2015