Research Group Aesthetic Imaginaries

Main content

Microdystopias: Aesthetics and Ideologies in a Broken Moment. Edited by Asbjørn Grønstad and Lene Johannessen. Lanham, MD.: Lexington Books/Rowman and Littlefield, forthcoming 2022. 

This edited collection examines the effects that macrosystems have on the figuration of our everyday—of microdystopias—and argues that microdystopic narratives are part of a genre that has emerged in contract to classic dystopic manifestations of world-shattering events. From different methodological and theoretical positions in fieldworks ranging from literary works and young adult series to concrete places and games, the contributors in Microdystopias: Aesthetics and Ideologies in a Broken Moment sound the depths of an existential sense of shrinking horizons – spatially, temporally, emotionally, and politically. The everyday encroachment on our sense of spatial orientation that gradually and discreetly shrinks the horizons of possibilities is demonstrated by examining what the form of the microdystopic look like when they are aesthetically configured. Contributors analyze the aesthetics that play a particularly central and complex role in mediating, as well as disrupting, the parameters of dystopian emergences and emergencies, reflecting an increasingly uneasy relationship between the fictional, the cautionary, and the real. Scholars of media studies, sociology, and philosophy will find this book of particular interest.

“Have we become exhausted by mass culture’s indulgence in exorbitant spectacles of apocalyptic destruction and civilizational collapse, and turned instead to more modest and nuanced portrayals of the on-going “microdystopias” of everyday life? This scintillating collection of essays by a team of astute Norwegian cultural critics makes a strong case for the transition from fearing the world will end with a bang to experiencing it as an endless series of desperate whimpers."
— Martin Jay, University of California, Berkeley


Aesthetic Apprehensions: Silence and Absence in False Familiarities. Edited by Jena Habegger-Conti and Lene Johannessen. Lanham, MD.: Lexington Books/Rowman and Littlefield, "Transforming Literary Studies, 2021. 

 Aesthetic Apprehensions: Silences and Absences in False Familiarities is a scholarly conversation about encounters between habitual customs of reading and seeing and their ruptures and ossifications. In closely connected discourses, the thirteen essays collected here set out to carefully probe the ways our aesthetic immersions are obfuscated by deep-seated epistemological and ideological apprehensions by focusing on how the tropology carried by silence, absence, and false familarity crystallize to define the gaps that open up. As they figure in the subtitle of this volume, the tropes may seem straightforward enough, but a closer examination of their function in relation to social, cultural, and political assumptions and gestalts reveal troubling oversights. Aesthetic Apprehensions comes to name the attempt at capturing the outlier meanings residing in habituated receptions as well as the uneasy relations that result from aesthetic practices already in place, emphasizing the kinds of thresholds of sense and sensation which occasion rupture and creativity. Such, after all, is the promise of the threshold, of the liminal: to encourage our leap into otherness, for then to find ourselves and our sensing again, and anew in novel comprehensions.


Emerging Aesthetic Imaginaries. Edited by Lene Johannessen and Mark Ledbetter. Lanham, MD.: Lexington Books/Rowman and Littlefield, "Transforming Literary Studies," 2018.

"Emerging Aesthetic Imaginaries considers aesthetic imaginaries as they constitute and are constituted by and in our shared realities. With contributions from twelve scholars working in the fields of literary studies, visual studies, anthropology, cultural studies, and digital culture, this book takes a multidisciplinary approach to “aesthetic imaginaries,” which tests the conceptual potential from an array of perspectives and methodologies. It probes into the continuous creation and re-creation of figures for the future that invariably nod to their pasts, whether with a spirit of respect, disgust, hope, or play. It is particularly in the intersections between ideas and formations of “shared realities” and what Ranjan Ghosh has called “entangled figurations” that the full and intricate promise of the aesthetic imaginary as analytic and conceptual prism comes into its own. As the chapters in this collection demonstrate, “knots” of various aesthetic imaginaries disseminate and manifest variously across place and time, to weave and interweave again, and to offer themselves in each instance as contours-so-far of cultural and aesthetic histories."