„Die Katastrophe ist ein schwarzes Blatt“: Katastrophenmanagement und Umweltethik in Georg Kaisers Schauspiel Gas (1918)

Sabine Wilke


Kaiser’s play presents the catastrophic explosion of a plant that produces the world’s supply of gas in the context of weighing strategies of risk management and certain positions in environmental ethics. An ecocritical reading of this expressionist play and its thematic focus on industrial automation, alienation, and the problems of modern mass society that lead to a vicious cycle of war and violence underscores the limitations of the aesthetic solutions that the play offers for these ethical concepts. While the hyperbolic staging of the explosion at the end of Act One and the debate of the various ethical positions that are offered for rebuilding society over the course of the remaining four acts raises awareness of some of the environmental issues that are related to that project, it nevertheless falls short of sketching a dimension that leads beyond the anthropocentrism, lack of a global perspective, and genuine interest in finding a sustainable solution that still informs these positions. (SW; in German)

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