The project examines the pragmatics of counterfactuals, i.e. of scenarios that take the question "What would have happened, if ..." as a starting point, on the macro level of cultural processes. In this project, cultural conditions and functions as well as structural characteristics of counterfactual narration of the past are explored. I equally focus on history, especially on its historiosophical component, and on fictional alternate histories in literature. We will examine the exemplary case of Soviet and post-Soviet culture: Its historical-cultural characteristics with the rejection of counterfactual thinking in the Soviet era followed by a strong propagation of conjectural history in post-Soviet Russia allow us to study the cultural mechanisms that foster the emergence of counterfactual models of history. Furthermore, in Russia, counterfactual scenarios are closely connected to cultural memory, whereby their social and historical-political function becomes clearly visible. Moreover, with a part of the project comprising a comparative perspective, more general literary and cultural theoretical conclusions can be drawn.
Lower level SH Stevenson Hall
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Institute for the Humanities