In my thesis, I examine the aesthetic categories in the literary representations of late modern war. Aside from the standard repertoire of strong emotions – thrill, fear, and horror – that have traditionally been associated with war, a number of less intense but more pervasive affects such as boredom, disappointment, and distraction have acquired a more prominent and recurrent role. While the emotional impact of “war at a distance” has been described in a range of historical literary works the distance of war has been complicated by the development of modern technological weaponry that produces a “close-up at a distance”. I examine how the merger of proximity and distance through military technology has transformed and expanded the aesthetic categories of war in the literature of the 21st century. Firstly, I map the soldiers’ affective responses within the fictional universes, and secondly, I ask if the emergence of the less strong affects calls for new poetological forms. Since the wars of the 21st century have not only an international but also a much debated national component, my PhD project will pay special attention to the Danish artistic responses to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Christine Strandmose Toft
Boredom, Discontent, Distraction and Disappointment: Mapping the Aesthetic Categories of Late Modern War