While, during the 19th century, «blank spaces» vanish from maps, a strange figure appears in the geographical imagination: the figure of an explorer who has disappeared from the surface of the Earth. Lost in the wilderness of strange continents and remote oceans, the «martyrs of science» – as the German geographer August Petermann, following the French novelist Jules Verne, calls them – attract a widespread interest: they disappear under surveillance. Petermanns Geographische Mitteilungen, a worldwide-operating magazine at the border of science and public interest, is one of the most prominent fields where such a disappearance occurs and is organized in notes, narratives, and maps. Thus, disappearance occurs as a dramatic event, but it is also reinscribed into the routines of geographical knowledge, in «proceedings» that make the act of disappearance perceptible and, at the same time, modify the perception of a homogeneous geographical space as well as the possibilities of its representation.
BIO/BIB — Wolfgang Struck is Professor of Modern German Literature at the University of Erfurt. His fields of research include the history and theory of literature and film, and particularly literature and knowledge. Struck’s publications include Die Eroberung der Phantasie: Kolonialismus, Literatur und Film zwischen deutschem Kaiserreich und Weimarer Republik, Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht unipress 2010. Literarische Entdeckungsreisen: Vorfahren – Nachfahrten – Revisionen (with Hansjörg Bay). Köln/Weimar/Wien: Böhlau 2012.