Coal, oil and natural gas have made their presence felt not only in geological strata and in climatic changes. In the lives of authors and their literary characters, in poems, dramas, and novels, too, things have been smoldering differently since the transition from the Wood Age to the Fossil Energy Age, fossil fuels burn themselves in as a motif and poetological driving force, and even by the fireside they still cast new kinds of shadows into the narrative as well as into political-social history - whether in Novalis, who as an electoral official was in charge of overseeing lignite mines, or in Émile Zola, who in one of his novels describes how coal permeates the bodies of miners. Susanne Stephan now follows these "traces of light and ash" in her essayistic fuel report, also with a view to the energy humanities that have yet to be discovered in the German-speaking world. She measures the emissions in the atmosphere of the literary canon and encounters, for example in the works of Rilke, Goethe, Shelley, Melville, Krauß, and Hilbig, an energetic unconscious that has not only long fueled the history of literature, philosophy, and the earth, but is also capable of poetically illuminating the present.
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Susanne Stephan, born in Aachen in 1963, studied German, history and Romance languages and literature in Tübingen and Paris; after working as an editor, she now works as a freelance author. She received scholarships for the German Study Center in Venice, the Casa Baldi in Olevano Romano and the Spreewald Scholarship. 2015 residency as a visiting artist at CERN in Geneva. She was awarded the Thaddäus Troll Prize and the Hertha Koenig Prize.