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Host: Sarah Maaß

Host: Sarah Maaß

ALEKI - Arbeitsstelle für Kinder- und Jugendmedienforschung


The Administrative Grotesque: Affective Economies in Bureaucratic Fiction

Stories set in the bleak world of offices, cubicles, and institutional corridors have recently come back into fashion worldwide, on page and on screens. But what are the forces that fuel their rekindled popularity? Why do readers and audiences of different ages find them so captivating, given the monotony and the dullness often associated with bureaucracy? What do these stories have to say about the up-and-coming realities of office work?

The project is interested in a better understanding of the ways in which fictional representations and pop culture may depict – and also drive – social, technological, and political change. In order to do so, it explores the possibility of applying concepts related to “affective economy” to contemporary novels and films about bureaucracy.

Blending insights from cultural studies and social sciences into textual and visual analysis, the project goes beyond merely drawing connections across a transnational body of contemporary works that engage on an aesthetic level with “the administrative grotesque.” It also aims to encourage further critical explorations of these works, by situating them in the context of a broader tradition of fiction concerned with the production, circulation, and exchange of affects in the seemingly dispassionate world of administration.

Alexandra Irimia