Anja Weller M.A.


The Psychology of Narration and Time in Utopian and Dystopian Speculative Fiction


Speculative Fiction constitutes a “reading strategy” of “puzzle pieces” which aligns well with the trauma narrative, a narrative style of disjointedness, anachronisms and a particular capacity for affect. Its various subgenres, especially utopian and dystopian speculative fiction, provide an opportunity to view facets of real life through the lens of a fictionalised world. Through this creative approach topics can be viewed more objectively, thus help gain a deeper understanding of contemporary culture, and possibly inspire action. To show a better version of society or to serve as a warning of a potentially negative future, they adapt to mirror contemporary problems as they can be observed in the real world. My analysis will focus on utopian and dystopian speculative fiction created after 1980 as trauma has become an important aspect on an aesthetic and diegetic level.


I argue that utopian and dystopian fiction can be used to access trauma and potentially assist in shaping cultural catharsis by furthering the understanding between mainstream cultures and “affect aliens”, as members from counter cultures and minorities might be referred to according to Sarah Ahmed’s work. Thus, I will focus on characteristics that transport affect especially well and help the reader gain a deeper understanding of and identify with these “affect aliens”.  Since trauma narratives can be constructed to carry sympathy and empathy, central questions are how affect is used in literature to ultimately influence the reader and whether trauma can be worked through by means of literary creation and consumption.