Eva Stubenrauch

Die Ordnung der Zukunft
Ästhetische Verfahren der Zeitmodellierung seit 1800
[The Order of the Future. Aesthetic Techniques for Modelling Time since 1800]

Studien zur deutschen Literatur vol. 230
de Gruyter, Berlin/Boston 2023, 444 pages
ISBN 978-3-11-101511-8 (Print); 978-3-11-101550-7 (PDF)

The Sattelzeit (saddle period) and the societal transformations around 1800 are usually associated with the end of determined expectations towards the future and the beginning of a modern, open thinking of the future. This study revises modernity’s narrative of an open future by tracing the theoretical and literary techniques of closure, techniques that were to immediately close the gap between the space of experience and the horizon of expectations during the late 18th century.

An analysis of the methods employed in aesthetics, the philosophy of history, state theory, and historiography, of literary, probabilistic, protobiological, and art-theoretical writings, shows that the closure of the open future is not a later “derailment” of modernity. Instead, it shows that it is part of the basic structure of its forms of thought and orders of knowledge and thus regularly returns as such throughout the following centuries. The analyses reveal the models, systematics, and semantics of the closure of future time: from Baumgarten to Gumbrecht, from Lessing to Milo Rau. Thus, they reformulate basic assumptions within literary, historical, and sociological futurology.