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Sense of Place and Sense of PlanetThe Environmental Imagination of the Global$
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Ursula K Heise

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195335637

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195335637.001.0001

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Chernobyl and the Everyday

(p.178) 6 AFTERGLOW
Sense of Place and Sense of Planet

Ursula K. Heise (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter, building on Chs. 4 and 5, focuses on two German novels about the nuclear accident at Chernobyl, Christa Wolf’s Accident: A Day’s News and Gabriele Wohmann’s Sound of the Flute. Both texts portray this transnational risk scenario in its impact on the local, ordinary lives of protagonists in East Germany and West Germany, respectively. Wolf emphasizes the way in which transnational technological risk of the kind instantiated by Chernobyl transcends disrupts and alters the experience of the local, which cannot offer adequate linguistic and cultural resources to imagine and describe this kind of hazard. Modernist literary innovations, in Wolf’s approach, become a way of bridging this gap. Wohmann, by contrast, emphasizes how even the most dangerous and large-scale risk scenarios are gradually integrated into the texture of everyday language and experience, challenging established modes of inhabitation but also giving rise to new ones. The chapter concludes with a brief summary of how Chernobyl itself has been normalized by becoming a popular tourist destination.

Keywords:   Chernobyl, nuclear accident, Christa Wolf, Gabriele Wohmann, German literature, risk analysis, risk theory

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