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Alternative Worlds

Blue-Sky Thinking since 1900

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Edited By Ricarda Vidal and Ingo Cornils

In an attempt to counteract the doom and gloom of the economic crisis and the politicians’ overused dictum that ‘there is no alternative’, this interdisciplinary collection presents a number of alternative worlds that were conceived over the course of the last century. While change at the macro level was the focus of most of the ideological struggles of the twentieth century, the real impetus for change came from the blue-sky thinking of scientists, engineers, architects, sociologists, planners and writers, all of whom imagined alternatives to the status quo.
Following a roughly chronological order from the turn of the nineteenth century to the present, this book explores the dreams, plans and hopes as well as the nightmares and fears that are an integral part of alternative thinking in the Western hemisphere. The alternative worlds at the centre of the individual essays can each be seen as crucial to the history of the past one hundred years. While these alternative worlds reflect their particular cultural context, they also inform historical developments in a wider sense and continue to resonate in the present.
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About the author(s)/editor(s)

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Ricarda Vidal is a lecturer, curator and translator and teaches cultural studies at King’s College London. Her monograph Death and Desire in Car Crash Culture: A Century of Romantic Futurisms (Peter Lang Oxford, 2013) examines the fascination with speed and the car crash in cultural production. She has also co-edited a collection of essays on contemporary approaches to death, The Power of Death (2014). She is currently exploring the impact of macro-engineering on the cultural imagination as well as leading a research and exhibition project into the theory and practice of translation within the fine arts and literature, ‘Translation Games’.

Ingo Cornils is Senior Lecturer in German at the University of Leeds. He has published widely on German science fiction, the German student movement and Hermann Hesse. Recent volumes include Memories of 1968: International Perspectives (2010, with Sarah Waters), A Companion to the Works of Hermann Hesse (2009) and Baader–Meinhof Returns: History and Cultural Memory of German Left-Wing Terrorism (2008, with Gerrit-Jan Berendse). He is currently writing a monograph on the construction of ‘1968’ in Germany.

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