The Project

What is the »conditio extraterrestris«?

The entire complex of representations that assume the existence of an inhabited, or inhabitable, outer space is what we understand by conditio extraterrestris. Therefore, conditio extraterrestris embraces literary fiction, reflections on media theory and philosophical and theological speculations besides astronomical and astrobiological investigations. To the extent that the project conceives outer space as the historical outcome of interlacing poetics of knowledge, it will shed light on the aesthetic and the historical aspect of extraterrestrial phantasy as well as on the cultural and theoretical principles of present-day, and future, expeditions into the universe.

What engages our interest?

Astronomy’s exploration of the universe is linked with the rise of an extraterrestrial phantasy. Yet, a vivid interest in the constellations of planets is far from being the only issue at stake; but also, and even more so, how life is being led, or could be led, in alien worlds. On these grounds, literary imagination acquires a coordinating function since it mediates the imagery of alien worlds and beings while its narratives depict the inhabited galaxy as an emerging order that carries meaning for human beings and their cultures of knowledge (i.e. from Christian theology of creation to the Theory of Evolution).

The project considers the processes of creation and of mediation of an extraterrestrial space with a threefold approach, namely from a production-aesthetic, a media-historical and a reception-aesthetic perspective. These correspond to the following sub-projects: Cosmographic Narrative, Interstellar Communication and The Extraterrestrial Reader.