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Isak Winkel Holm

Isak Winkel Holm


Member of:

  • Copenhagen Center for Disaster Research

Current research

My research deals with the relationship between literature and politics or, more generally, between aesthetics and politics. Hence, my research themes fall in two halves: on the one hand, Literary Theory, Cultural Theory, Aesthetics, Theory of Metaphor and Theory of Tragedy; on the other hand, Political Theory, Social Philosophy, Theory of Justice and Disaster Research. Currently, the two halves meet in two book projects.

Stormløb mod grænsen: det politiske hos Franz Kafka (Assault on the Border: The Political in Franz Kafka, Gyldendal Publishers 2015) sets out to rethink the relationship between aesthetics and politics in Kafka's literary works. My claim is that this relationship should be understood not only as a question of aesthetic representation but, as well, as a question of aesthetic experience; not just content but also form. I am presently reworking the Danish book into an shorter English language publication under the title: Stereoscopic Politics: From and the Reframing of Community in Franz Kafka.

A book project with the working title In the Shadow of Future Disasters: Prophetic Politics in Modern Literature investigates the prophetic in modern literature from Heinrich von Kleist over Søren Kierkegaard and Henrik Ibsen to Cormac McCarthy. My claim is that the prophetic, viewed as an aesthetic mode, has important consequences for the political imagination of the discussed works – and for the political imagination of the present situation.

In connection with my exploration of the cultural history of disaster I am member of the steering committee of a number of cross-disciplinary research networks and centres that, in different ways, create platforms for uniting cultural studies with the History, Law, Anthropology, Theology, etc. 

"COPE – Copenhagen Disaster Research Center",

"Changing Disasters. Understanding Societies through Disasters",

"Sustainable Futurities. Centre for Culture, Sustainability and Transition",

"Katastrofekulturer" (Disaster Cultures), funded by The Research Council of Norway


At the Faculty of Humanities my research is used as an example of the impact the humanities researchers have on society.
Read the case: Changing disasters: A new understanding of the interrelationship between disasters and society.

Selected publications

  1. Published

    The Calamity of the Rightless: Hannah Arendt and Franz Kafka on Monsters and Members

    Holm, I. W. Jun 2013 Franz Kafka and Philosophy. Moran, B. & Salzani, C. (eds.). Lanham/Boulder/New York/Toronto: Lexington Books, p. 159-178 20 p.

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapter

  2. Published

    Earthquake in Haiti: Kleist and Modern Disaster Discourse

    Holm, I. W. 2012 In : New German Critique. 115, p. 49-66 18 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

  3. Published

    The Frailty of Everything: Cormac McCarthy's The Road and Modern Disaster Discourse

    Holm, I. W. 2012 The Cultural Life of Catastrophes and Crises. Meiner, C. & Veel, K. (eds.). De Gruyter, p. 233-248 (Concepts for the Study of Culture, Vol. 3).

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapter

  4. Published

    Cultural Poetics and the Politics of Literature

    Holm, I. W. & Tygstrup, F. 2012 Ernst Cassirer on Form and Technology: Contemporary Reading. Hoel, A. S. & Folkvord, I. (eds.). London: Palgrave Macmillan, p. 199-213

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapter

  5. Published

    Zombies and Citizens: The Ontopolitics of Disaster in Francis Lawrence's I Am Legend

    Holm, I. W. 1 Apr 2015 Hazardous future: disaster, representation and the assessment of risk. Gil, I. C. & Wulf, C. (eds.). Berlin: De Gruyter, p. 205-222

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapter

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