Dr. Johanna Pundt

Johanna Pundt’s outstanding PhD thesis “Speculative India: Genre and Aesthetics in Contemporary Indian Anglophone Literature and Popular Culture”, submitted at the University of Augsburg, investigates a broad range of speculative works across anglophone Indian literature and popular culture. The thesis is conceptionally innovative and establishes its own impressive corpus of Indian texts which have largely been neglected in previous analyses of speculative fiction. One of its key achievements is the extension of speculative fiction as a concept: Johanna Pundt questions the binary, and often highly simplified distinction between mimetic and non-mimetic/antirealist forms of representation and develops her own concept, which she terms para-realism. Pundt describes para-realism as a mode that is inherent to those texts “that centre previously marginalized worldviews, sometimes expressing perceptions that surpass the knowable and scientifically verifiable,” working toward a “representational practice of plurality” in terms of varying epistemologies and ways of experiencing realities. What is more, Johanna Pundt connects her findings to Pheng Cheah’s concept of “worlding literature”: Indian speculative fiction, she argues, “is worlded through its rootedness in extratextual epistemological and ontological systems and is at the same time worlding in the sense of musing about different forms of existence.”