GSA SEMINARS 2023
The 47th German Studies Association Conference in Montréal, Québec, Canada, from October 5 to October 8, 2023 will again host a series of seminars in addition to conference sessions and roundtables (for general conference information, click here).
Seminars meet for all three days of the conference (Friday, Saturday, Sunday) during the first or second morning slot to foster extended discussion, rigorous intellectual exchange, and intensified networking. They are led by two to four conveners and consist of 8 to 20 participants, at least some of whom should be graduate students. In order to reach the goal of extended discussion, seminar organizers and participants are required to participate in all three installments of the seminar.
To access the submission portal in which you can apply for the seminar of your choice, click here. Applications ask for an abstract describing the nature of your contribution to the seminar (500 words max), as well as a short biography (300 words max). The deadline for applications to participate in a seminar is Friday, March 3rd at 11:59 p.m. PST.
The 2023 GSA Conference will include a total of 27 seminars selected and approved for enrollment through this year’s proposal process, as follows (Tip: you can click on the title to go to the seminar description, and then click your browser’s back button to return to the list):
- Asian Diaspora in the German-Speaking World
- Carl Schmitt's Die geistesgeschichtliche Lage des heutigen Parlamentarismus: Essence, Controversy, Legacy
- Contemporary Issues in German Theatre: Diversity, Identity, Contestation
- Eastern Europe and the German-Jewish Imagination: Between Modernity and Tradition
- Environment, Activism, and Social Change in German Studies
- Fascist Fantasies? Popular Fiction and Film in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries
- Feeling and Belonging (sponsored by the Emotions Network)
- Gameplay in Teaching and Research
- Gendered Violence in Literature, Theater, and Visual Arts after 1970
- Global Nazism
- Goethe as Theoretical Touchstone (sponsored by the Goethe Society of North America)
- Integrating Digital Humanities and German Studies: Methods, Theory, Practice (sponsored by the Digital Humanities Network)
- Ladykracher and Knallerfrauen: Feminist Humor in the German-Speaking World
- Literature of the Bloodlands: Multidirectional, Transnational, and Postmigrational Perspectives
- Made in Germany: Myths and Materiality of an Exporting Nation
- Militant Democracy Then and Now
- New Directions in Researching Nineteenth-Century Women Writing
- Nothing to See Here? East German Space(s) in Contemporary Societies
- Philosophies of Unperformable Dramas: Embodiments of the Unstageable
- Playing in the German Dark: Our Relationship to the Canon’s Sinistry
- Premodern Representations of Race (800–1700) and their Reception in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries (sponsored by the Medieval and Early Modern German Studies Network)
- Sounds of War (sponsored by the Sound Studies and War and Violence Networks)
- Taking the Long View: Imagined Communities in Austria, 1867–2023
- The Centrality of Gender in Religious Transformation from the Late Eighteenth to the Twentieth Century
- The Zeitenwende in German Politics: Foreign Policy and Beyond
- Theories of Migration and Solidarity in German Jewish Authors
- Translating the Pacific: Georg Forster and the Order of Nature in Meiners, Kant, and Herder
All seminars allow auditors if space is available. You may contact the individual seminar conveners for questions about their seminars (emails are listed in the description); you may contact members of the Seminar Committee for general questions. Please direct all other questions, including inquiries regarding disability accommodation, to the Operations Director, Dr. Jennifer Jenkins (email@example.com). Please note that applicants must be members of the GSA for 2023; you can join or renew your membership through the GSA website: https://www.thegsa.org/.
The GSA Seminar Committee consists of:
List of 2023 GSA Seminars (in alphabetical order)
1. Asian Diaspora in the German-Speaking World
- Zach Ramon Fitzpatrick, Wesleyan University, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Ricky W. Law, Carnegie Mellon University, email@example.com
- Qingyang Freya Zhou, University of California, Berkeley, firstname.lastname@example.org
Abstract: This seminar seeks to highlight under-researched topics on the Asian German diaspora and address recent changes in the field. While we welcome all subjects related to Asian German Studies, we especially encourage sociological, historical, and cultural studies of first-to-third generation (post-)migrants, mixed-race Asians, and adoptees in the German-speaking world. Successful submissions will ideally 1) reflect on the limitations of “Asia” as a geographical and ideological concept; 2) venture beyond East Asia and Germany to investigate migration from Central, South, and Southeast Asia to Germanophone countries, including Austria and Switzerland; 3) engage in conversations with Turkish, Arab, and Black German Studies, as well as Asian American Studies; and/or 4) discuss how the pandemic promoted reflection on Asian German identity and community. By transcending the geographical and disciplinary boundaries of Asian diaspora studies, we hope to find new theoretical foundations beyond Orientalism and inspire diverse research for the future.
Format: Participants will submit an extended abstract (800-1,000 words) of a larger project (article, dissertation, book, etc.) that addresses some of the questions outlined in the seminar description. Contributions will be pre-circulated with all participants beforehand to promote lively discussion during the seminar.
2. Carl Schmitt's Die geistesgeschichtliche Lage des heutigen Parlamentarismus: Essence, Controversy, Legacy
- Joseph Bendersky, Virginia Commonwealth University, email@example.com
- David Pan, University of California, Irvine, firstname.lastname@example.org
Abstract: 2023 marks the centennial of Carl Schmitt’s Die geistesgeschichtliche Lage des heutigen Parlamentarismus at a time when his political and legal theory is more widely discussed, critiqued, and embraced around the globe than it had been in the decades following the “Schmitt Renaissance” of the 1980s. Publications and conferences devoted to Schmitt abound from Europe, the U.S., and Latin America to the recent “Schmitt Fever” in China. Seminar participants will examine such seminal Schmittian ideas embodied in this book as the contradiction between modern mass democracy and liberal parliamentarianism; homogeneity; irrationalism; and the role of myth in political theology. A core objective will be determining whether this work was a significant contributor to intellectually undermining Weimar democracy, or an insightful analysis of the realities of political life with enduring contemporary relevance. This multidisciplinary seminar seeks scholars from diverse fields, including those from outside of Europe and North America.
Format: Short presentations of longer pre-circulated papers (2000-4000 words) as starting points for debating essential themes. Participants are expected to have read the entire text of Carl Schmitt's Die geistesgeschichtliche Lage des heutigen Parlamentarismus (or The Crisis of Parliamentary Democracy).
3. Contemporary Issues in German Theatre: Diversity, Identity, Contestation
- Misha Hadar, University of Alabama, email@example.com
- Christine Korte, NYU Berlin, firstname.lastname@example.org
Abstract: The purpose of this seminar is to gather scholars interested in discussing new trends in German theater, which is the topic for an upcoming special issue of Seminar: A Journal of Germanic Studies titled “German Theatre - Diversity, Identity, Contestation.” The GSA seminar will focus on how German identities and histories are being reinterpreted and contested to reflect demographic changes in German society. How are contemporary sensibilities regarding the diversification of representation, as seen in the so-called postmigrant theatre and in decolonial aesthetics, reshaping German theatre? How are issues of social justice transforming the current German theatre discourse? Current challenges and controversies, demands for inclusion and critique of “identity politics” and so-called “virtue signaling” will be the focus of the discussion. We will also historicize these questions, exploring the discursive fields in which they emerge. We welcome those interested in these questions, as well as contributors to the special issue.
Format: Each participant will share a 2-3 page description of current work related to this topic prior to the GSA. Conveners will group thematically related papers for each of the days to serve as a baseline around which to facilitate discussion.
4. Eastern Europe and the German-Jewish Imagination: Between Modernity and Tradition
- Kata Gellen, Duke University, email@example.com
- Adi Nester, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, firstname.lastname@example.org
Abstract: Reflecting on the complex relation between “Ost- and Westjuden,” Shulamit Volkov noted how increasing immigration from Eastern Europe into Germany and Austria since the 1880s alarmed many established German-speaking Jews who felt “implicated by the deeds and misdeeds of the Schnorrer from the East.” Yet despite a seemingly deep cultural gap between these groups, the “Ostjude” and Eastern Europe remained objects of interest for German-speaking Jews. This seminar seeks to explore the nature of this interest, which took many forms—often tinged with nostalgia, sometimes pragmatic and anthropological, and at times a means for addressing pressing political concerns, like fascism and Zionism. We would like to open this topic to a broad interdisciplinary inquiry, and propose that rather than viewing the experience of 20th-century European Jews as a one-directional move toward western secular urban modernity, the relationship between West- and East-European Jews itself reflects the condition of modernity, namely, the irresolvable tension between tradition and novelty, the village and the metropolis, religiousness and secularity.
Format: Participants are asked to submit a position paper of approximately 7 pages by the end of the summer. The conveners will pre-circulate all contributions among seminar participants. Each participant will give a brief oral presentation of their contribution in the seminar to be followed by discussion.
5. Environment, Activism, and Social Change in German Studies
- Kiley Kost, Carleton College, email@example.com
- Sabine von Mering, Brandeis University, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Daniel Nolan, University of Minnesota Duluth, email@example.com
- Seth Peabody, Carleton College, firstname.lastname@example.org
Abstract: What is the role of German studies in an environmental crisis? How can we “future-proof” our field, offer new perspectives on sustainability, and invigorate humanistic research and collaborative projects? At a moment when universities as a whole and environmental studies specifically continue to focus on STEM fields, we will use this seminar to explore humanities-based approaches and create initiatives for ongoing virtual collaboration. We invite participants to propose projects exploring histories, cultures and critiques of “Green Germany;” racial, transnational, and environmental justice; energy and petrocultures; activism, its histories, and social change; and digital pedagogy, collaboration, and exchange.
In addition to workshopping project plans, participants will create a peer mentoring and collaboration process that offers support across topical interest areas and career stages. The multi-year process will thus serve as a seed project for carrying out the recommendations of the CLEAT report and future-proofing the GSA.
Format: The seminar progresses from discussion, to collaboration, to continuing exchange:Day 1: discuss four pre-circulated article-length texts.Day 2: workshop individual proposals, based on participant submissions (format: title, 2-page outline of proposed project, bibliography).Day 3: develop a plan for sustained virtual collaboration that includes mentoring, accountability, and concrete outcomes.
6. Fascist Fantasies? Popular Fiction and Film in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries
- Tobias Hof, University of Toronto, Tobias.Hof@arcor.de
- Priscilla Layne, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, email@example.com
- Jan Süselbeck, NTNU, firstname.lastname@example.org
Abstract: Right-wing populist ideologies like fascism appeal to mainstream society in various ways. A recent strategy is decrying objective criticism of problematic messages in popular fantasy and science fiction works as ‘cancel culture.’ These fabricated debates generate support for right-wing allegations about a ‘great replacement’ of a beloved ‘white masculine’ culture by the ‘woke’ left. Recently, this could be observed in controversies surrounding May’s Winnetou and Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.
Why and how do right-wing audiences adopt these works? Do they adopt what Moritz Baßler coined “popular realism” – stereotypical mainstream narratives for mass audiences worldwide? This seminar explores these questions by having pairs of scholars from different academic disciplines analyze examples from a list compiled by the conveners. This interdisciplinary approach offers new insights into the aesthetics of popular fantasy and science-fiction works and their reception in Germany since the early 20th century. Given recent debates, such a close examination is critical.
Format: Paired scholars examine ‘aesthetics’ (day one) and ‘reception’ (day two) of one unique work. Conveners ensure that each work is only presented by one pair. Discussions are based on pre-circulated papers (1.500 words). On day three we discuss our findings. Additional suggestions of texts/films are possible if applicants find partners beforehand.
7. Feeling and Belonging (sponsored by the Emotions Network)
- Sarah Leonard, Simmons University, email@example.com
- Britta McEwen, Creighton University, BrittaMcEwen@creighton.edu
- Russell Spinney, The Thacher School, firstname.lastname@example.org
Abstract: Belonging has recently become an important category inside and outside of the academy. Although it has been central to interdisciplinary studies and social justice efforts, the Emotions Network seeks to explore how belonging translates into feeling states. Also, how do we as scholars recognize, capture, and document feelings of belonging?
This seminar invites participants to investigate belonging using texts, images, and/or data from their own research projects. We seek to read sources for affect, affective practices, emotional communities, emotional frontiers, regimes and other structures of feeling that create identity, group cohesion, a sense of connection, or its loss. We will also work through a selection of short secondary sources that engage with our theme broadly, with readings from Sara Ahmed, Tina Campt, and other theorists.
We are especially interested in projects that explore affect theory, history of emotions, and “belonging” in terms of emotional geographies, corporalities, emigration/immigration, kinship networks, queer spaces and communities, and confessional differences.
Format: Drawing from their pre-circulated, five-page papers, participants will present a single source or meaningful piece of data from their current research. We will pre-circulate three to four articles for group discussion and solicit suggestions for master bibliography at the conference. The seminar will also prioritize discussions of further collaborative work.
8. Gameplay in Teaching and Research
- Jeremy Best, Iowa State University, email@example.com
- Alex Hogue, Coastal Carolina University, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Evan Torner, University of Cincinnati, email@example.com
Abstract: Games are of increasing interest in teaching and research, but chances to play reflectively are few. As both praxis and analysis, gameplay provides opportunities for textual engagement, collaboration, and community. Play is how we learn, and collective, playful narration appoints all participants as co-authors of their own experiences. It opens up discussion about temporality, experiential learning, language, and the playful nature of narrative itself. Non-digital games deserve our undivided attention at the GSA. This first-ever gameplay seminar follows 5 years of Game Studies panels at the GSA and the Game Studies workshop model from University of Heidelberg in 2015 and elsewhere since. It will open a conversation about how particularly non-digital games can help achieve teaching and research goals in German Studies, since complicated German historical and cultural topics now appear in game products such as Rosenstrasse (2022), Black Orchestra (2016), Secret Hitler (2016), and Shadow Carnival (2017).
Format: Participants will present a short, 5-minute analysis of a game of choice, play non-digital games together, and reconvene to converse. Day 1 will involve analyzing games of interest. Day 2 will divide participants into groups to play relevant non-digital games such as Black Orchestra and Shadow Carnival. Day 3 reflects on that gameplay.
9. Gendered Violence in Literature, Theater, and Visual Arts after 1970
- Richard Langston, UNC-Chapel Hill, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Cornelia Pierstorff, University of Zurich, email@example.com
- Thomas Wortmann, Universität Mannheim, firstname.lastname@example.org
Abstract: Gender and violence are inextricably linked. On the one hand, violence plays an integral part in the performativity of gender. On the other, the specificity of violence can only be understood when gender is taken into account. Because violence and gender are so culturally conditioned and historically variable, they are also deeply rooted in linguistic, narrative, medial, and aesthetic phenomena. The histories of art, literature, and film provide therefore detailed insights into how gendered violence constitutes and maintains its own myths and how it, in turn, shapes forms, mediums and genres. Querying these configurations through a constellation of aesthetic objects, this seminar seeks to establish the structural dimension at the center of all gendered violence. The seminar invites participants invested in interrogating the highly topical issue of gendered violence in literary, cinematic and other aesthetic works after 1970, i.e., after the second feminist movement. Intersectional and interdisciplinary perspectives are especially encouraged.
Format: The seminar involves group discussions and individual presentations. Participants will read theories from gender, queer, affect, visual and media studies (approx. 80–100 pp.). We will ask participants to prepare an essay discussing an artefact of their choice within the theoretical framework of the seminar (max. 3500 words) to be pre-circulated four weeks before the conference.
10. Global Nazism
- Jennifer Evans, Carleton University, JenniferEvans@CUNET.CARLETON.CA
- Eric Kurlander, Stetson University, email@example.com
- Julia Torrie, St. Thomas University, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Jonathan Wiesen, University of Alabama at Birmingham, email@example.com
Abstract: Despite a decades-long shift toward transnational and global perspectives on Central Europe, scholarship on Nazism in a global context has only just begun to emerge. As part of a system of empires in an era of war, advanced capitalism, dynamic borders, and massive migrations, the Third Reich’s global entanglements involved not only treaty violations, alliance building among fascist countries, imperialist warfare, and attempts to racially purify Europe, but also bilateral and multilateral trade agreements, political and cultural interactions, and showing off the “new Germany” to the world. This seminar seeks to counter notions of Nazi exceptionalism and emphasize the interconnectedness of the Third Reich with events, people, and systems across the world. Conveners invite contributions with geographical diversity (Nazi connections with other regions); thematic breadth (shared conceptions of race and space, geopolitics, cultural and social interactions); and chronological depth (global precursors to and legacies of the Third Reich).
Format: Participants are asked to pre-circulate papers of 2500 words. A Discussant will introduce each day’s session and provide a modest (10 minute) comment on that session’s papers. Paper contributors will respond briefly (5 minutes), followed by general discussion, moderated by the Chair and Discussant.
11. Goethe as Theoretical Touchstone (sponsored by the Goethe Society of North America)
- Daniel Carranza, Harvard University, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Joel Lande, Princeton University, email@example.com
- David Wellbery, University of Chicago, firstname.lastname@example.org
Abstract: Although Goethe’s influence on individual writers has long been studied, there is as yet no systematic examination of the range of theoretical models that draw on, adapt, and transform Goethean conceptions across the 19th and 20th centuries. The plasticity of Goethe’s thought—its potential for productive transformation in the hands of later authors—remains under-appreciated. To be sure, Goethe’s importance for modern thought is distinguished by its unorthodox nature: no single discipline or school counts as the inheritor of Goethe’s thought. Goethe’s impact can be detected, rather, across a remarkably heterogeneous range of thinkers, from his own lifetime up to the present day. This seminar will focus on individual case studies – e.g., Arendt, Agnes Arber, Blumenberg, Cassirer, Freud, Hadot, Lipps, Portmann – in order to draw out the transformative power of reception and thus to identify the sources of Goethe’s abiding theoretical fecundity. Contributions on individuals, groups, even disciplines are welcome.
Format: Seminar participants will collectively curate a selection of 8-10 primary texts that illuminate the salience of Goethean thought for later theoretical architectures (~100 pages of reading). Each participant will prepare a 1-page (un-pre-circulated) introduction profiling the main themes and questions raised by one of the readings and guide the discussion.
12. Integrating Digital Humanities and German Studies: Methods, Theory, Practice (sponsored by the Digital Humanities Network)
- Fabian Offert, University of California, Santa Barbara, email@example.com
- Thorsten Ries, University of Texas at Austin, firstname.lastname@example.org
Abstract: While the humanities have always incorporated empirical and formal approaches, the debate around Nan Z. Da's "The Computational Case [...]" revealed that digital methods can be at odds with the paradigms of established humanities scholarship. Current AI-driven methods like ChatGPT in particular raise questions about how arguments could be made “digitally” that align with traditional humanities scholarship enough to be convincing (e.g. in terms of reproducibility and explainability). This seminar thus aims to delineate the state of the art in “digital” German Studies and facilitate a discussion of the epistemic consequences of digital methods for the discipline. How are digital methods relevant for German Studies, and what are angles of humanist inquiry into digital methods and culture? How could we conceptualize a digital methodology that is productively integrated with established humanities scholarship? And what are the political and disciplinary stakes of this integration?
Format: The seminar will feature a series of participant short presentations dealing with specific research questions or case studies (5-10 min, pre-circulated texts), the discussion of research articles, and practical experiments with digital methods. The discussion will be framed by a seminar reader (ca. 60 pages) distributed beforehand.
13. Ladykracher and Knallerfrauen: Feminist Humor in the German-Speaking World
- Julia Gruber, Tennessee Tech University, email@example.com
- Verena Hutter, Portland State University, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Regina Range, University of Alabama, email@example.com
Abstract: The myth of the humorless woman lingers on (as does the claim that Germans lack a sense of humor). Much of what has been said about unfunny women can be traced back to Sigmund Freud. In Jokes and the Unconscious (1905), Freud contends that hostile jokes allow men to blow off steam, but due to their less complex superego structure, women are not angry and therefore have no need to tell tendentious jokes.
This seminar aims to refute the still widely held claim that women are not funny. It explores literary, visual, and performative examples of German/Austrian/Swiss female humor/comedy and fumerism, i.e., a particular feminist humor that, as Cynthia and Julie Willett argue in their book Uproarious (2019), “turns the tables and mocks the mocker.”
We ask: How does women’s humor unmask inequalities that contribute to their subordinated status while offering new solutions and strategies?
Format: We propose a workshop based on 4-page pre-circulated paper drafts (due September 5), discussing how comediennes and fumorists use humor to respond to life in the private and public spheres, including but not limited to inequality, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, and racism prevalent in the German-speaking world.
14. Literature of the Bloodlands: Multidirectional, Transnational, and Postmigrational Perspectives
- Aura Heydenreich, University of Erlangen-Nürnberg, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Carl Niekerk, University of Illinois, email@example.com
Abstract: When Timothy Snyder published Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin (Basic Books 2010), it meant in many respects a shift of perspective. Snyder focused on what had happened in Eastern Europe since WWI, but also made clear that these historical facts necessitated a different kind of approach to reflect on the experiences of a wide range of multi-ethnic nations and cultural, ethnic, and religious transnational communities present in the area, and the mobility and migration caused by these events. Our GSA seminar proposes to study German-language literary texts that reflect on what has happened in and along Europe’s eastern border zones (from the Baltic states to Georgia) since WWI. The seminar’s conveners are interested in literary texts that help us understand better the historical events that constitute Europe’s violent twentieth-century history, the multidirectional memory work happening when writing or reading about these events, and the methodologies that can help us analyze these literary texts, for instance by Nino Haratischwili, Josef Haslinger, Katja Petrovskaja, Tanya Piankova, Joseph Roth, Saša Stanišić, and Natascha Wodin.
Format: Conveners will ask participants to write papers (12 pages) in advance (by 15 August). We will circulate before the conference. Knowledge of Timothy Snyder's Bloodlands (2nd. ed., 2022) is expected, and we will pre-circulate a few short methodological texts (Aleida Assmann, Marianne Hirsch, Michael Rothberg, a.o., no longer than 10 pages each).
15. Made in Germany: Myths and Materiality of an Exporting Nation
- Katrin Schreiter, King's College London, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Will Gray, Purdue University, email@example.com
Abstract: This seminar invites participants to consider the centrality of export activity to society, culture, and politics in the German-speaking lands. Long before the “Made in Germany” label was affixed to products, trade fairs were a feature of German economic life; and the 19th and 20th centuries brought an even greater concentration on production for export. How did orientation toward distant markets inflect business innovation, product design, foreign relations, and political priorities? How did concerns about market share shape currency alignments, labor practices, and the domestic economy? What histories can be told about the lives of German commercial agents abroad, and what narratives did Germans craft about their most iconic exports? And how did German products impact societies abroad? The conveners welcome contributions from design history, material culture, business history, labor history, and beyond. Our goals are to reinvigorate the salience of economic themes within the GSA and to publish proceedings.
Format: Participants will prepare brief research-based contributions (ca. 10 double-spaced pages) in response to the seminar’s guiding themes and prescribed readings. Each morning the seminar will discuss a selection of their pre-circulated contributions in a roundtable format. Completed seminar contributions due September 5.
16. Militant Democracy Then and Now
- Tobias Boes, University of Notre Dame, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Jan Vondracek, Masaryk Institute, email@example.com
Abstract: In the 1930s, the German-Jewish jurist Karl Loewenstein developed the concept of "militant democracy" against the backdrop of the threats posed by fascism and communism. After the Second World War, this concept was to become groundbreaking for Western democracies and today it is impossible to imagine democracies without it.
The aim of this seminar is to bring together historians, legal scholars, political scientists, art historians, literary, film and cultural studies scholars to discuss methods developed to prepare democracy to engage its enemies. We are interested not only in debates about the future of democracy that took place in the 1930s and 1940s, but in the 20th and 21st centuries more broadly. The term “enemies” should similarly be understood to encompass not only fascism and Stalinism, but also racial and sexual terrorism, authoritarian populism, and sectarian violence. Many of the ideas we are interested in first emerged in emigration or in a transatlantic context.
Format: The seminar will be based on discussions of pre-circulated papers of no more than 4,000 words. Participants will also give five-minute presentations to kickstart discussions. We will distribute some theoretical readings (about 30 pages) that will serve as a common base for the seminar.
17. New Directions in Researching Nineteenth-Century Women Writing
- Andree Michaelis-König, Europa-Universität Viadrina, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Lorely French, Pacific University, email@example.com
- Jadwiga Kita-Huber, Jagiellonian University, firstname.lastname@example.org
Abstract: Ever since Nicole Seifert’s critically acclaimed Frauenliteratur. Abgewertet, vergessen, wiederentdeckt appeared in 2021, negligence towards women authors has become a viral topic once again. The growing visibility of German women writers since 1800 has stimulated recent scholarly works (Wernli 2022; Hughes 2022; Krimmer/Nossett 2020). However, scholarship struggles with at least two core issues: (1) it remains somehow at odds with critical theories related to gender studies in general, often advocating a return to an author-centered approach, potentially focusing on a gender binary and struggling with methodological aspects; (2) while research shares a continuous effort to (re)discover female authors and forgotten works, it remains disparate and often unconnected. This seminar intends to foster an exchange on both. It is open for discussions on the multitude of directions and materials in 19th-Century German Women Studies today, including letters, literary assemblages, novels, poems, translations, and theater works.
Format: Excerpts from Seifert’s Frauenliteratur (2021), the introduction by Fronius/Richards (2011), and a 1000-2000-word description of participants’ current research projects (including dissertations, journal articles, book chapters, and monographs) will be pre-circulated by September 2023. Sessions will include group analysis of primary sources, 10-minute project presentations, and general networking plans.
18. Nothing to See Here? East German Space(s) in Contemporary Societies
- Katrin Bahr, Centre College, email@example.com
- Melanie Lorek, CUNY School of Professional Studies, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Juliane Schicker, Carleton College, email@example.com
Abstract: Long after 1990, scholars remain unclear about what remains of the GDR and where its real and imagined remnants reside. Especially in the last decade, research has examined representations of the GDR, Socialism, and the “East” as an imagined space (Bach, Eisman, Erpenbeck, Gallinat, Kërçuku, Pugh, Rubin, Schwenkel). Such works highlight the GDR’s impact until today in (non-)material culture and the emerging spaces within such representations. This seminar explores forms of spatial representations of the GDR in contemporary societies in which public and/or private spaces, mediated spaces, or spaces socially deemed irrelevant or invisible define the understanding of the East. We will explore this in and outside of reunified Germany. Presenters will address how different memories about the GDR shape space and vice versa, how German reunification has commodified, gentrified, and/or erased GDR environments, and how different constituents determine what spaces are considered and which ones are renounced.
Format: Participants prepare a 750-1000 word position paper connecting their research with the 2-3 pre-circulated readings of about 40 pages per person total (e.g. Erpenbeck’s “Heimweh nach dem Traurigsein”). Participants discuss these readings and their paper with pre-assigned partners before the seminar. Each day, one group leads a discussion of the readings and position papers.
19. Philosophies of Unperformable Dramas: Embodiments of the Unstageable
- Hannan Ishay Ronen, Tel Aviv University, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Netta Sovinsky, Yale University, email@example.com
Abstract: The seminar will focus on unstageable German dramas. Modern German theatre emerged as a phenomenon in formation and of formation: designed to fit coeval aesthetic and social norms, German theatre - unprecedentedly in public state playhouses - was set at first as an instrument of social influence for different intellectual movements, a place for public gathering in which the public itself is sculptured, which generated the development of a literary theatre subject to rigid dramatic conditions. Nevertheless, every so often dramas emerged that violated those conditions, rejected the contours of theatrical representation and explored the boundaries of dramatic embodiments.
The seminar will explore unconventional drama in terms of genre and metaphysical constitution, and their implications in the world. We will examine how un-performability challenges theatrical, metaphysical and social frames of the stage. The meetings will combine a theoretical conversation, a shared reading of dramatic texts and a theatrical practical workshop.
Format: The conveners will precirculate 30-50 pages of theoretical readings and one drama. Participants discuss theoretical aspects of un-performability (day 1), followed by a joint reading and thinking of one “unperformable” dramatic text (day 2). Day 3 explores the potential, limitations and consequences through a practical workshop with participation of actors.
20. Playing in the German Dark: Our Relationship to the Canon’s Sinistry
- Barbara Nagel, Princeton University, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Silke-Maria Weineck, University of Michigan, email@example.com
Abstract: Toni Morrison’s essays in Playing in the Dark did not merely elucidate the ways in which perceptions of Blackness shaped the American literary canon, they also seized “the interpretive space within a racially ordered hierarchy of cultural criticism” (Dyson) without dismissing the radical possibilities of the texts under investigation. How do we intellectually and affectively position ourselves vis-à-vis texts we can neither discard nor read without deep apprehension? How do we work responsibly and perhaps even joyously with a corpus that not only participates in but frequently is constitutive of noxious racial, sexual, and class hierarchies? We invite papers that engage these and related questions either directly, reflecting on our own scholarly practices, or in an analysis of the strategies of minoritized writers who have engaged German aesthetic and theoretical legacies for their own liberatory ends without thereby validating them (e.g., Charles Mills and Kant, Fanon and Nietzsche, Davis and Marcuse).
Format: pre-circulated papers (length 10-15 pp.; due by Sept. 7); presentation and response by fellow participants; followed by open discussion. We ask that participants read “Romancing the Shadow,” the second essay of Playing in the Dark, in preparation.
21. Premodern Representations of Race (800–1700) and their Reception in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries (sponsored by the Medieval and Early Modern German Studies Network)
- Tina Boyer, Wake Forest University, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Annegret Oehme, University of Washington, email@example.com
Abstract: The past decade has seen an expanding turn to Critical Race Studies within medieval studies, highlighting the importance of the concept through the context of what has been traditionally considered a time “before race.” While German Studies has not produced a similarly broad body of scholarship as French and English Studies, there has been sustained interest in critical race studies. This interest has led to a more prominent positioning of applying and revising the findings of CRS to our field (see the recent special issue of the German Quarterly on Black German Studies). It is essential to examine this discourse's long history and roots. In the seminar, we will look at representations of race in premodern primary sources. Of further importance are the reception of this material and its impact on the formation of German studies in the 18th and 19th centuries. We hope this seminar can foster a dialogue beyond the GSA by bringing together scholars working on the topic in various disciplines to establish an interdisciplinary network spanning literature, history, religion, art history, and more.
Format: Each participant will draft a 1000–1200-word discussion paper focusing on a specific case /question (papers due August 15th), which will then be pre-circulated together with two scholarly articles.
22. Sounds of War (sponsored by the Sound Studies and War and Violence Networks)
- David Imhoof, Susquehanna University, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Rita Krueger, Temple University, email@example.com
- Adam Seipp, Texas A&M University, firstname.lastname@example.org
Abstract: Boom! Bang! Crash! War is probably the loudest human activity, especially since the advent of gunpowder and other modern weapons. From the whistling of bullets, the kabooms of shells and the screams and shouts of battle to the cadences of patriotic songs and other music, war exists as an immersive sonic experience. This seminar will explore the relationships between sound and war as a way to understand violence better and to expand our concept of sound. The seminar will consider the multitude of sounds and music that has promoted, opposed, waged, and commemorated war since the Middle Ages. How can various disciplines work together to develop a shared framework for analyzing music, sound, and conflict? Combining our networks’ diverse approaches to sources, methods, theory, and subject matter, this seminar has the potential to illuminate shared questions in exciting new ways.
Format: The seminar has three aspects: (1) Reading in advance 4 to 5 articles/chapters on sound and war to establish a common theoretical language, no more than a total of 120 pgs. (2) Discussion of pre-circulated papers (10 pages) by participants; (3) Planning how these ideas/papers will develop into a publishable collection of essays
23. Taking the Long View: Imagined Communities in Austria, 1867–2023
- Michael Burri, Haverford College, email@example.com
- Marc Landry, University of New Orleans, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Sarah Painitz, Butler University, email@example.com
Abstract: This seminar explores legacies of non-national imagined communities in Austrian history since the establishment of the dual monarchy of Austria-Hungary in 1867. Mindful of the false proposition that because such small-scale communities were not engaged in elite national politics, they were not politicized, we welcome contributions from traditional fields, including studies of literary groups, classical and folk music societies, art movements, education reform, and philosophical circles. We also invite newer approaches investigating forms of cooperation around nature, digital universe, associational life, and more. Mindful also that such communities have often been vilified, we seek contributions addressing gender, sexuality, and disabilities, as well as anti-intellectualism, socialism, Catholicism, and regionalism. What habitus and behaviors express community belonging, and what projections and emotional states are required to create and sustain it? Comradeship, shared preferences, and a sense of shared destiny figure largely in any imagined community. But how does one experience the leader of the imagined community? And does one imagine belonging to a Freunderlwirtschaft?
Format: Seminar activity will be organized around pre-circulated papers of 8-10 pages. Each presenter will open their session with a short summary of their paper, to which a designated commentator will deliver a brief response. The discussion will then be opened to the larger group. Papers due four weeks in advance.
24. The Centrality of Gender in Religious Transformation from the Late Eighteenth to the Twentieth Century
- Maria Mitchell, Franklin & Marshall College, Maria.Mitchell@fandm.edu
- Mark Edward Ruff, Saint Louis University, Mark.Ruff@slu.edu
Abstract: Scholars of religion have recently recognized the influence of gender on processes of religious transformation since the late 18th century. Changes in understandings of faith, forms of piety, religious attendance, and participation in ancillary organizations went hand-in-hand with shifting gender roles. These changes frequently unleashed impassioned debates about women’s roles in their religious institutions as well as broader constructions of womanhood and sexuality, highlighting the degree to which ensuing discourses of religion, faith, and politics were gendered. Were the religious transformations of this era cause or effect of changing understandings of gender and sexuality? To what degree were movements promoting secularism and secularization gendered? This seminar will analyze debates over the roles of sexually-defined identities in 19th- and early 20th-century religious institutions, how religious and secularist movements in the interwar and postwar eras were gendered, and religious upheavals since the 1960s, including controversies over birth control, abortion, secularism, queerness, and clerical sexual abuse.
Format: This seminar is structured around questions focused on seminal texts and recent publications. Discussion questions and readings – no more than six essays and book chapters – will be announced in June 2023. In advance of the seminar, all participants will pre-circulate a 2-3 page reflection on methodological questions.
25. The Zeitenwende in German Politics: Foreign Policy and Beyond
- Louise Davidson-Schmich, University of Miami, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Jonathan Olsen, Texas Woman's University, JOlsen1@twu.edu
- Danny Schindler, Institute for Parliamentary Research, email@example.com
Abstract: In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine three days earlier, on February 22, 2022, Chancellor Olaf Scholz declared a “Zeitenwende” in German foreign policy. This seminar will examine whether it can be said that a Zeitenwende in German politics is occurring beyond the realm of foreign policy. For example, are the twin threats of global warming and energy dependence forcing Germany into new “green” policy areas? Is the traditional German focus on budget discipline giving way to a different conception of domestic political economy in 2023? Does the rise of the AfD (Alternative for Germany) herald a turning point in the ways German parties campaign, compete for votes, and build coalitions at the state and national level? In short, using the idea of Zeitenwende, this seminar seeks contributions that explore potential turning points in politics and policy in Germany today, broadly considered.
Format: Participants will submit 15- to 20-page papers prior to the conference and present their results in 15-minute oral remarks at the seminar, followed by a 10-minute commentary from another participant assigned as discussant. All participants will read each other’s work prior to the seminar to promote enriching discussion.
26. Theories of Migration and Solidarity in German Jewish Authors
- Agnes Mueller, University of South Carolina, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Stuart Taberner, University of Leeds, email@example.com
- Miriam Wray, University of Leeds, firstname.lastname@example.org
Abstract: This seminar investigates German-language cultural production by a small cohort of 10-12 self-identified Jewish authors since the 1990s such as Grjasnowa, Salzmann, and Kapitelman. It will explore current theoretical debates in relation to contemporary German Jewish literature by writers from the former Soviet Union. The seminar seeks to foster discussion of the complementarity, contradictions, and conflict between various theoretical concepts, including postmigration, multidirectionality, alliances, entanglement, similarity and lines of affiliation in contemporary German-Jewish literatures. We focus on how theory illuminates discourses of migration, diaspora and cosmopolitan solidarity in (German) Jewish literature, especially in relation to interactions between intersectional Jewish, gender, queer and other minoritized identities in both recent literary texts and cultural producers’ public performances and interventions. Considering theoretical concepts such as Foroutan’s Postmigrantische Gesellschaft (2019), Yildiz’s Postmigrantische Visionen (2018), Rothberg’s Multidirektionale Erinnerung (2021) and its German reception, the seminar offers new perspectives on leading questions in German-Jewish literature.
Format: We will include a syllabus of theoretical and methodological reading of 3 core readings (one cornerstone text for each session) and pre-circulated position papers (ca. 1000 words each) from all participants. The three conveners will each lead the discussion of one session of the seminar.
27. Translating the Pacific: Georg Forster and the Order of Nature in Meiners, Kant, and Herder
- Jennifer Mensch, Western Sydney University, email@example.com
- Michael Olson, Marquette University, firstname.lastname@example.org
Abstract: As even a quick glance at the list of “Neue Literatur zu Georg Forster'' included at the end of each installment of the Georg-Forster-Studien will attest, scholarly work on Georg and his father, Johann Reinhold Forster, is being produced at a steady clip. The enduring fame of the Forsters began with their time spent as naturalists on James Cook’s second major expedition to the Pacific in search of a southern continent (1772-75). The Forsters each published important accounts of the voyage and continued for decades afterward as key disseminators—via translations, commentaries, articles, and books—of travel literature for German readers. For today’s historians of philosophy, however, Georg Forster is best-known for his dispute with Kant on race. But the Forsters’ ethnographic observations and natural historical writings were more broadly influential than this one exchange suggests, and their philosophical reception history remains significantly understudied overall. This seminar aims to begin recovering some of their impact on the philosophical anthropologies produced by Herder, Kant, and Meiners.
Format: Participants will read in advance whole texts by Georg and Johann Forster, Herder, Kant, and Meiners (approximately 100 pages), with shorter sections identified for each day’s discussion. Participants will be asked to choose a text and write a brief account—no more than 1500 words—highlighting themes and questions for the seminar to address.