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Surfacing the submarine myth. An intermedial, myth-critical and cultural-critical analysis of submarine narratives

This project will critically examine the neglected genre of submarine fiction (in literary and visual media) in order to shed new light on the entanglement of political and cultural imaginaries. As soon as the submarine was first introduced as a weapon of war, it became the object of mystification, not in the least because of its unique ability to remain invisible under water and attack out of the blue. Fiction has contributed to what can be called a ‘submarine myth’ – a popular understanding of how submarines work, and how work and life aboard are organized. This research project will examine how the narrative, metaphorical, visual and rhetorical elements of this myth have been (re-)actualized in German and Anglophone culture from World War II until present. With great attention for diachronic shifts, this project will show that submarine narratives form one of the central discourses through which fundamental aspects of modern politics have been articulated. How is the submarine imagined as a micro-society? With what internal, external and (in-)visible risks is it confronted? What structures and techniques are deployed to protect it? By zooming in on the theme of security, understood as the obsession with control over and protection from (real or imagined) threats, this project will yield a nuanced and historically informed insight in the various ways submarine fiction has reflected the shifts in the (bio-)political imaginary typical of postwar Western societies.
Date:1 Oct 2021 →  Today
Keywords:modern literature, comparative literature, biopolitics, critical theory, submarine fiction, visual culture, rhetorics
Disciplines:Modern literature, Visual cultures