Professor Cornils' research focuses on the complex relationship between political, utopian and fantastic thought. He has a particular interest in Romanticism, the construction and representation of the German Student Movement, German Science Fiction, and in the works of Kurd Lasswitz, Hermann Hesse and Uwe Timm.
He recently completed a monograph titled 'Writing the Revolution. The Construction of 1968 in Germany'. This book argues that writing about '1968', in its German context, is no longer about the historical events or the aims and objectives of a by-gone counter-cultural movement, but rather about a moral touchstone, a unique identifier of social groups, and an identity construct, to keep alive a utopian agenda that continues to fire the imagination. It demonstrates that the representation of 1968 as a ‘foundational myth’ suits a number of surprisingly heterogeneous groups, and that even the myth’s deconstruction strengthens it. Most importantly, it shows how for more almost five decades a small group of determined writers, intellectuals, journalists and academics have kept ‘1968’ in the foreground of public debate, thereby ensuring that the experience of this ‘utopian moment’ (Jay Winter) maintains its subversive potential.
He is currently writing a new book, titled 'Beyond Tomorrow. German Science Fiction and Utopian Thought in the 20th and 21st Century'.