Intensive Seminar “The Age of Chronic Crises? Understanding Crisis Narratives and Crisis Management in the 21st Century”

Interdisciplinary seminar of Estonian Graduate School of Culture Studies and Arts


Guest lecturer: Anne Fuchs, Professor and Director of the Humanities Institute, University College Dublin

Dates and time: 16–17 May 2022

Venue: Tallinn University, Uus-Sadama 5, room M-649.

Credits: 1 ECTS

Language of the course: English

Hosting institutions: Tallinn University; Estonian Graduate School of Culture Studies and Arts



That the political discourse of the twenty-first century has been dominated by chronic crises on a global scale requires no special insight: the ongoing and unresolved displacement of millions of refugees globally; the return of imperial warfare in continental Europe; the threat of an irreversible climate and biodiversity catastrophe; and the recent Covid-19 pandemic are prominent examples of the global experience that we inhabit a precarious world. In the age of the Anthropocene the present is no longer the dynamic transition belt on the pathway to human self-realization in an ever-brighter future but rather a fast-paced and yet atomized time which requires constant crisis management. The persistence and planetary dimension of chronic crises gives rise to the feeling that human action can no longer control the future.

Using the idea of a crisis imaginaries as a springboard, our workshop investigates the conceptual dimensions of crises from historical, literary and epistemological perspectives. We specifically want to investigate in the seminar the emergence of the modern crisis discourse in the eighteenth century; narratological emplotment of crises; the temporality of modern crises; strategies of crisis management; crises and risk; crises and catastrophe in the age of the Anthropocene.


About guest lecturer:

Prof. Dr. Anne Fuchs is a senior academic with over 30 years of international experience in teaching and research at all levels of university education. She has held the Chairs of German at University College Dublin, St Andrews University and the University of Warwick in the UK. Further to this, she has held longer guest professorships and Funded Research Fellowships at the University of Nottingham (2002–2006), the École Normale Supérieure, Paris (2010); The University of Konstanz (2014), and the University of Bonn (2022). Currently she is professor and director of Humanities Institute at the University College Dublin. She is a Member of the Royal Irish Academy and in 2014 she was elected a Fellow of the British Academy. Her most important book publications include: Precarious Times. Temporality and History in Modern German Culture (Cornell University Press, 2019); After the Dresden Bombing: Pathways of Memory, 1945 to the Present (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012) and Phantoms of War in Contemporary German Literature, Films and Discourse: the Politics of Memory (Palgrave Macmillan, 2008).



Day 1 (Monday, 16 May 2022)


Lecture 1: What is a Crisis? The Social Imaginary of Modern Crises




Seminar 1: Crisis and Modernity; Crisis and Critique

Day 2 (Tuesday, 17 May 2022)


Lecture 2: From Modern Crises to Chronic Crises: Narratological Perspectives




Seminar 2: Crisis and Catastrophe


Required readings

Seminar 1:

**Koselleck, Reinhart, ‘Crisis’, trans. by Michaela Richter, Journal of the History of Ideas, 62 (2006), 357-400.

**Roitman, Janet. Anti-Crisis. Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2014, Introduction, pp. 1-14.

Seminar 2:

Primary Text: Franz Kafka’s ‘Little Fable’

Secondary Literature:

**Eliassen, Knut Ove. ‘Catastrophic Turns: From the Literary History of the Catastrophic’, in: Carsten Meiner and Kristin Veel (eds), The Cultural Life of Catastrophes. De Gruyter, 2012, pp. 33-57.

Fuchs, Anne. ‘Crises and Crisis Management in Kafka’s ‘Kleine Fabel’ and Robert Walser’s ‘Das Ende der Welt’.’ The Modern Language Review: 114/4 (2019): 767-82.

**Horn, Eva, The Future as Catastrophe. Imagining Disaster in the Modern Age. Columbia UP 2018, Introduction, pp. 1-20.

Nünning, Ansgar. ‘Making Crisis and Catastrophes: How Metaphors and Narratives shape their Cultural Life’, in: Meiner and Veel (eds), The Cultural Life of Catastrophes, pp. 59-88.


Requirements for participation

Reading the required seminar texts is the prerequisite for participating in the course. All texts will be provided electronically to registered participants.

Interested graduate students can apply for the seminar by filling out the registration form by 6 May 2022 at this link:  The maximum number of seminar participants is 18 and students will be notified of their acceptance to attend the course.

1 ECTS credit will be awarded upon participating in the seminar on both days and reading the required texts.

Participation in the course is free of charge. Accommodation and travel costs of the students of GSCSA will be reimbursed. If you have registered but are unable to attend you are required to let the organisers know.


Contact: Eva Kruuse,


The event is supported by the (European Union) European Regional Development Fund (Tallinn University’s ASTRA project, TLU TEE – Tallinn University as a promoter of intelligent lifestyle).