Schaffeld, N. A Fictionalized Representation of Scientific Counter-Discourse: Jo Lendle’s Historical Science Novel Alles Land (2011)
(2019) German Quarterly, 92 (1), pp. 35-50.
This paper explores a fictionalized series of past events in which a process of scientific discovery clearly contradicts the dominant academic discourse and is therefore bound to meet with powerful opposition. Based on an analysis of Jo Lendle’s novel Alles Land (2011), the literary representation of the life of Alfred Wegener (1880–1930) and his theory of continental drift is studied against the backdrop of Thomas S. Kuhn’s conceptualization of the processual character of science, as well as a modified reading of Foucault’s discursive formations. The novel identifies Wegener’s scientific plight as the fatal outcome of a nexus between modalities that predefine the object of research and those that regulate the institutional right to speak. In Lendle’s context-dependent narrativization, which provides the reader with a clear epistemic advantage, these two modalities fatefully converge in order to effectively, if falsely, claim that as a young astronomer and atmospheric physicist, Wegener allegedly lacks authority to speak on geological subject matters. © 2019, American Association of Teachers of German
Alfred Wegener; epistemic change; geology; historical novel; Jo Lendle; narrative