GSA Seminars 2018: Call for Participants

The 42nd GSA Conference in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 27-30 September 2018, will again host a series of seminars in addition to its regular conference sessions and roundtables.

Seminars meet for all three days of the conference during the first morning slot to foster extended discussion, rigorous intellectual exchange, and intensified networking. They are led by two to four conveners and will consist of either 12 to 15 or 16 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.

The following seminars have been selected and approved for enrollment at the 2018 GSA Conference:

  1. Art Film/Film Art in Contemporary Germany
  2. Asian German Studies
  3. Critical European Culture Studies
  4. Digital Humanities and Pedagogy across the Disciplines (sponsored by the Digital Humanities Network)
  5. Documentary Fiction and Terms of Engagement: (Post) Industrial Worlds of Work and Labor
  6. Feeling beyond the Human: Animals, AI, Machines (sponsored by the Emotion Studies Network)
  7. Fragments of the German Body, 1600-2000
  8. From Empire to Small State: Integrating Austria in German and European Studies (sponsored by the Botstiber Institute for Austrian-American Studies)
  9. Frontiers, Encounters: Celan and Philosophy
  10. The Future of the Tragic
  11. Gender, Religion, and Emotions in German History: A Reassessment
  12. German Studies Go Global (sponsored by the American Association of Teachers of German)
  13. Jews and Politics in the Post-War Germanies
  14. Liberalism and Its Discontents: Music and Culture in German-Speaking Europe, 1848-1914
  15. Literary Morphology: Theories of Dynamic Form before and after Goethe
  16. Mapping Identities through Mobilities
  17. Material Culture and the Sacred
  18. On the Very Concept of Autofiction: Theory and History
  19. Popular Culture in 20th-Century Germany
  20. Private Matters: Expanding the Margins of the Lebenslauf
  21. Race Theory in Classical German Thought
  22. The Rise of the Alternative for Germany and the Transformation of German Politics
  23. The Science of the Psyche
  24. Socialist Cities: New Themes in Urban History in East Germany and the Global Second World
  25. The Studied Environment
  26. Teaching German History in the 21st Century: Challenges and Strategies
  27. The “Tender Gaze” in Film and Literature
  28. Transdisciplinary Theoretical Approaches to Right-Wing Politics
  29. Weimar Culture Revisited
  30. Writing Global Crises: New Approaches to Reading Elfriede Jelinek

If you wish to participate in a seminar, please visit the GSA website and apply electronically at

https://www.xcdsystem.com/gsa. You must be a 2018 member of the GSA to apply.

Applicants will be asked to provide a 500-word abstract of what they hope to contribute to the seminar and a short curriculum vitae (CV).

Participation in a seminar involves intellectual work akin to preparing a paper and will thus count as such. All seminar participants will be listed by name in the program. If you are accepted to be an active participant in a seminar, you are not allowed to give a paper in panel sessions, nor may you withdraw from a seminar in order to present a paper instead. However, you may moderate or comment on a panel or participate in a roundtable.

You may choose to be a silent auditor in a seminar. Slots for auditors are limited; the enrollment process for interested auditors will be announced in June.

Applications for seminar enrollment are due by 26 January 2018. The conveners of the seminars will make their determination of the membership of their seminars by 2 February. The GSA Seminar Program Committee will inform applicants whether they have been accepted by 5 February.

Please direct all inquiries to the conveners of your seminar.

2018 GSA Seminar Committee:

Chair: Margaret Eleanor Menninger, Texas State University (mm48@txstate.edu)

Maria Mitchell, Franklin & Marshall College (maria.mitchell@fandm.edu)

Faye Stewart, Georgia State University (fayestewart@gsu.edu)

01. Art Film/Film Art in Contemporary Germany

Conveners

Nora Alter, Temple University (nalter@temple.edu)

Lutz Koepnick, Vanderbilt University (lutz.koepnick@vanderbilt.edu)

Seminar Description

Since the new millennium within the field of non-fiction moving image production there has been an explosion of work that freely crosses the borders between “art film” and “film art.” The designation of “artist filmmaker” has become an accepted term that increasingly circulates in both film and art circles. Figures such as Hito Steyerl, Christian von Wedemeyer, Harun Farocki, Hartmut Bitomski, Alexander Kluge, and Marcel Odenbach push the limits of what is understood as cinema and as well as art. Depending on the parameters set forth by the mode of exhibition – single channel theatrical release, multi-screen exhibition, large scale installation – practitioners are expanding our understanding of both accessing and consuming audio-visual images. This seminar seeks to bring together scholars who are interested in the intersection between the spheres of art and film and how each field has expanded and morphed to accommodate and incorporate the other.

Seminar Format

Each participant will submit a short thought paper of about 1,000-1,500 words by 1 September, in which they relate their own work on contemporary art film to a reading list previously provided by the seminar conveners. The seminar discussion at the conference will center around these papers.

Proposed Size: 12-15

Silent Auditors: 1-5

02. Asian German Studies

Conveners

Douglas T. McGetchin, Florida Atlantic University (dmcgetch@fau.edu)

Daniel Leonhard Purdy, Pennsylvania State University (dlp14@psu.edu)

Qinna Shen, Bryn Mawr College (qshen@brynmawr.edu)

Seminar Description

Participants will consider historical and contemporary Asian diasporas in Germany and Germans in Asia, including their literary, historical, sociological, and specific cultural production, such as novels and films. To demonstrate the roles of Germans in Asia and Asians in Central Europe since 1600, this seminar focuses on three areas of specialization: (1) comparative literature and image studies, including cinema, fashion, consumer culture, and advertising; (2) transnational histories (literary, economic, political, intellectual); and (3) comparative philosophies. This second GSA Asian German Studies seminar seeks to continue the success of 2017. Since the first panel series in 2009, a lively scholarly community engaged with the long history of Asian presences in German culture has been growing more vocal. The GSA has taken a leading role in fostering this burgeoning area of research, as German universities announcing their own programs in Asian German studies cite the GSA’s ground-breaking role in establishing this field.

Seminar Format

Pre-circulated papers create a focused seminar environment. Participants will exchange 300-word abstracts by 1 April, papers of 3600-6000 words by 1 August, and a 300-word response to one other participant by 1 September.

Proposed Size: 12-15

Silent Auditors: 6-10

03. Critical European Culture Studies

Conveners

Randall Halle, University of Pittsburgh (rhalle@pitt.edu)

John Lyon, University of Pittsburgh (jblyon@pitt.edu)

Katrin Sieg, Georgetown University (ks253@georgetown.edu)

Sabine von Dirke, University of Pittsburgh (vondirke@pitt.edu)

Seminar Description

The 1992 unification of Europe affected Germany profoundly, altering national and regional relations in the present and directing a trajectory into the future. The EU as a project aspires to not only economic and political union, but also cultural union; yet the cultural implications of European unification have been little explored. The process of European cultural union calls forth a re-thinking of German national culture in the present and the past.

This seminar asks us to account – both theoretically and methodologically – for Germany’s role in European cultural unification. How do we approach “the arts and letters” of Germany to accommodate European multilingual polyphony and expanded multispatial relations? How do we decenter our investigations, while simultaneously expanding and “provincializing” them? What continuities and ruptures do we see between Europe past and present? What approaches help us contend with both past and present European cultural dis/union?

Seminar Format

The conveners will provide access to a set of key texts. Participants will nominate one additional. All participants will have access to this collective library. Four weeks in advance of the seminar, participants will share seven-page position papers drawn from the working library.

Proposed Size: 16-20

Silent Auditors: 1-5

04. Digital Humanities and Pedagogy across the Disciplines (sponsored by the Interdisciplinary Digital Humanities Network)

Conveners

Claudia Baska Lynn, University of Pennsylvania (cblynn@sas.upenn.edu)

Sibel Sayılı-Hurley, University of Pennsylvania (says@sas.upenn.edu)  

Seminar Description

Digital Humanities (DH) methods and tools are employed by many scholars in their research, which in turn informs their teaching. Digital Humanities projects for undergraduate courses are also becoming more visible. Yet the articulation of how DH methods are introduced to and carried out by students, and what role DH plays in the learning objectives and outcomes of courses, still have to be addressed. We are looking for teacher-scholars who clearly state the role DH plays in their learning objectives and outcomes, who teach their students DH tools, and who have students carry out DH projects in their classes. The conveners will choose educators from a range of disciplines, such as foreign language, literature, history, art history, and political science, to encourage an interdisciplinary discussion of DH methods in the classroom.

Seminar Format

Participants will read assigned texts and submit a 500-word project description to the seminar website prior to the conference. Each day participants will present and discuss. Day 1 - DH tools and support systems; Day 2 - teacher-student DH project; Day 3 - drafting of pedagogical rationale and learning objectives.

Proposed Size: 12-15

Silent Auditors: 1-5

05. Documentary Fiction and Terms of Engagement: (Post) Industrial Worlds of Work and Labor

Conveners

Cyrus Shahan, Northeastern University (c.shahan@northeastern.edu)

Andreas Stuhlmann, University of Alberta (stuhlman@ualberta.ca)

Jamie H. Trnka, University of Scranton (jamie.trnka@scranton.edu)

Seminar Description

Labor is a catalyst for melancholic remembrances and utopian imaginations. Neoliberalism debases the laborer; yet, critical responses run the risk of reifying and romanticizing labors past. In Germany, Canada, and the USA there is a renewed urgency to define and marshal the power of labor and a surge in the imaginative and practical work of documenting labor’s multiple and sometimes conflicting meanings, locations, and materialities.

Given labor’s many iterations, can labor as an embodied, localized practice still be used to engage the appropriation of labor by resurgent nationalists as well as by theories and practices of transnationalism? Can documentary (fiction) subvert the dispersion of production and the transmigration of laborers?

We invite contributions that address documentary reflections on labor as object, artefact, or ideology, and on the labor entailed in documentary itself. We welcome participants from all fields as we explore (also via a trip to Rankin, PA) the transdisciplinary purchase of labor.

Seminar Format

In order to best make use of time, each participant will be asked to circulate an essay of 5-10 pages for discussion. In addition to these papers, the convenors will also distribute a selection of readings that is meant to inform the discussions, if not the contributions themselves.

Proposed Size: 12-15

Silent Auditors: 1-5

06. Feeling beyond the Human: Animals, AI, Machines (sponsored by the Emotion Studies Network)

Conveners

Derek Hillard, Kansas State University (dhillard@ksu.edu)

Erika Quinn, Eureka College (equinn@eureka.edu)

Holly Yanacek, James Madison University (yanaceha@jmu.edu)

Seminar Description

Over the past few decades, a “non-human turn” has emerged in academic disciplines. This seminar investigates non-human subjectivity and human-animal and human-machine interactions from the perspective of emotion studies. Do “non-humans,” such as animals and robots, have subjective emotional lives? How do interactions with animals and machines influence humans? Why and how have relationships between humans and non-humans been imagined differently over time? Descartes famously defined animals as automata mechanica without emotions. Darwin believed animals and evolutionary development revealed the functional story of emotions. In Kafka’s Die Verwandlung, the impact of music on Gregor calls into question the human/non-human divide. Responding to historical, social, and cultural changes of their time, writers have given creative expression to questions and anxieties about the core of human identity. Studies of “non-human” subjectivity and emotions disrupt binaries such as human-machine and human-animal and ask us to reconsider what it means to be human today.

Seminar Format

Proposals covering periods from 1500 to the present accepted; we encourage inter-/multidisciplinarity. Seminar participants will be asked to submit a paper of 5-6 pages three weeks before the conference. Pre-circulated papers will be grouped into three themes (one per day of the seminar) and discussed in turn along with a short theoretical or methodological text.

Proposed Size: 12-15

Silent Auditors: 1-5

07. Fragments of the German Body, 1600-2000

Conveners

Michael Hau, Monash University (michael.hau@monash.edu)

Heikki Lempa, Moravian College (lempah@moravian.edu)

Seminar Description

Since the 1990s, scholars have examined the body and body-centred practices in multiple ways. In German studies, this body of work has contributed to new approaches in areas of research as diverse as literary studies, history, politics, work, and sports. The body has become a heuristic device for developing integrated analyses which merge research on film, literary representations, everyday life, medicine, and class with new interpretations of gendered bodies, sexualities, and race. The seminar will take stock of recent developments and explore future directions for research on the body and its representations in German cultural contexts. We are especially interested in agendas that explore German bodies and their representations in global contexts, sexuality, body-centred pedagogies, technologies of subjectivation through body-centred practices, optimization of the self, enhancement of bodies, and other approaches probing the body as an avenue for understandings that cut across early modern and modern history, culture, and literature.

Seminar Format

Participants will write six-page position papers to be posted on the web site of the seminar by 15 August. All participants will read all papers. The discussion is based on the papers and includes three-minute introductions. There will be no additional readings.

Proposed Size: 12-15

Silent Auditors: 1-5

 

08. From Empire to Small State: Integrating Austria in German and European Studies (sponsored by the Botstiber Institute for Austrian-American Studies)

Conveners

Günter Bischof, University of New Orleans (gjbischo@uno.edu)

Kristina E. Poznan, Journal of Austrian-American History (journal@botstiber.org)

Janek Wasserman, University of Alabama (wasserman@ua.edu)

Seminar Description

The goal of this seminar is to facilitate study of new scholarship and newly available resources in Austrian studies that are particularly conducive to teaching introductory German and European studies courses, as well as the European History or Western Civilization survey. As first an empire and then a small state, examples from the Habsburg Empire and Austria can serve as fruitful comparative examples to the Holy Roman, Russian, and Ottoman Empires, and also to the situation of small states in the post-WWI era, on the border of the Iron Curtain. Habsburg and Austrian studies has seen a number of new interpretations in the last two decades that offer important context across disciplines, including a rich analysis of transnational and transatlantic connections. This seminar will offer scholars whose reading priorities often must focus on Germany to access this new Austrian scholarship in an efficient manner, with accompanying primary sources for teaching.

Seminar Format

Each day of the seminar will focus on a time period (pre-1914, WWI/interwar/WWII, Cold War and beyond), with an expert convener leading discussion. Participants will read two articles or a book chapter of secondary scholarship (from a list of 4-8) and three primary sources (out of 12) for each day.

Proposed Size: 12-15

Silent Auditors: 0

 

09. Frontiers, Encounters: Celan and Philosophy

Conveners

Kristina Mendicino, Brown University (kristina_mendicino@brown.edu)

Dominik Zechner, New York University (dz639@nyu.edu)

Seminar Description

Paul Celan’s works emerged as zones of intersection between poetic expression and philosophical reflection. Not only have philosophers and theorists from Adorno via Szondi through Lacoue-Labarthe engaged Celan’s poems in profound and meaningful ways, drawing conceptual insight from the literary encounter – Celan’s poems themselves mark critical turns in traditional philosophical aspirations, as recently shown by Werner Hamacher, who tracked the conceptual traces and import of Parmenides, Benjamin, and Heidegger within Celan’s oeuvre. This seminar explores the ways in which the extremes of poetic and philosophical writing meet in texts of and on Celan – pacing out his works as a borderland where the frontier between the literary and the philosophical is negotiated. We will discuss both Celan’s poems, probing their philosophical zeal, and their philosophical reception. We invite readers from diverse disciplinary directions to join us in approaching those liminal zones of writing and thinking that Celan so profoundly marked.

Seminar Format

We wish to solicit manuscripts of 10-15 pages engaging our materials, circulated prior to conference. In session, authors will have 5-7 minutes to rehearse their main argument before entering plenary discussion. A Dropbox folder containing manuscripts and primary and secondary texts will be made available in advance.

Proposed Size: 12-15

Silent Auditors: 1-5

 

10. The Future of the Tragic

Conveners

Anette Schwarz, Cornell University (as163@cornell.edu)

Silke-Maria Weineck, University of Michigan (smwei@umich.edu)

Seminar Description

Our seminar, “The Future of the Tragic,” will explore concerns that arose organically at the highly successful 2017 GSA seminar “The Tragic Today.” Both continuing and expanding the conversation, we seek to shift the questions to ask whether and under what conditions the concept of the tragic will endure. What will its status be? How can the idea of the tragic continue to be useful in theoretical, literary, performative, and political contexts, and how would it have to be rethought for these purposes? What are its possible trajectories in light of its long and varied history and its current revival (see the intense engagements with “Antigone”)? How can we make fruitful both ancient and modern theories of the tragic for the future? Conversely, is it possible that "the tragic" has come to an end? If so, what would take its place? From a post-tragic age to tragic futures?

Seminar Format

Participants will submit five-page papers two weeks before the seminar. Additional readings may be assigned. Participants will briefly present their ideas/readings followed by group discussion.

Proposed Size: 12-15

Silent Auditors: 1-5

 

11. Gender, Religion, and Emotions in German History: A Reassessment

Conveners

Martina Cucchiara, Bluffton University (cucchiaram@bluffton.edu)

Skye Doney, University of Wisconsin-Madison (doney@wisc.edu)

Jennifer Wunn, University of Oxford (jenwunn@gmail.com)

Seminar Description

This seminar invites scholars of religion to examine the intersection of gender and religious practices in German history. It focuses on the following questions: first, has the renewed interest in German religion since the 1980s responded to gender as a category of historical analysis? Second, have historians constructed separate historiographic ghettos for the history of modern religion and gender?

 

Day One examines how classical studies of gender apply to our research and assesses their utility through an empirical case study.

 

Day Two evaluates one of the most influential arguments about modern European religion: the feminization thesis. Here, we contrast classic approaches with two recent challenges that question the sources used to make the feminization argument.

 

Day Three considers how modern German historians have adapted early modern approaches to the history of emotion. Asking how we can learn from our early modern colleagues, this day bridges chronological barriers and methodological borders.

Seminar Format

In addition to reading 12 articles, participants will submit a methodological statement of 3-5 pages describing their use of gender and/or emotion as categories of analysis in their own research. These statements will be distributed two weeks before the conference. On Day Three, scholars will present their methodological statement.

Proposed Size: 16-20

Silent Auditors: 1-5

 

12. German Studies Go Global (sponsored by the American Association of Teachers of German)

Conveners

Nicole Coleman, Wayne State University (ncoleman@wayne.edu)

Lisabeth Hock, Wayne State University (lhock@wayne.edu)

Seminar Description

This AATG-sponsored seminar will consider how we might embed our teaching of German Studies in a global context. Day 1 addresses the theoretical and pragmatic justifications for and implications of such a turn in our programs, curricula, and syllabi. Key questions involve how to define “Global German Studies,” whether Global German Studies can or should remain linked to national entities, and whether it can or should remain humanities based. Day 2 addresses the globalization of undergraduate programs. How might this influence our curricula at different undergraduate levels? What role does diversity play? What models exist for interdisciplinary collaboration? How does a global-studies approach affect the design of internships and study abroad programs? What role does the development of language proficiency play? Day 3 addresses the globalization of German Studies at the graduate level, especially with regard to preparing MA and PhD students to find both academic and non-academic jobs.

Seminar Format

In preparation, participants will write five-page presentations related to 4-5 articles. These papers will be due and circulated one month before the conference. Each day will begin with several 10-minute presentations and then move to a discussion format.

Proposed Size: 12-15

Silent Auditors: 1-5

 

13. Jews and Politics in the Post-War Germanies

Conveners

Juliette Brungs, Stiftung SPI (Sozialpädagogisches Institut Berlin) (brun0334@umn.edu)

Dani Kranz, University of Wuppertal (danikranz@gmail.com)  

Seminar Description

This transdisciplinary seminar seeks to continue the scholarly exchange which was initiated at the GSA in 2017. The seminar brings together newer and more established colleagues in one work group that will pursue research over the course of the upcoming year on the topic of Jewish political engagement within Germany after 1945. The seminar’s participants seek to meet again to further explore the topic, and exchange their results in 2018. Jewish activities within the political space of the three Germanies include jurisdictional, educational, artistic, and journalistic concerns. This seminar discusses seven decades of political work by Jews in Germany, focusing on areas such as: the quota refugees of the 90’s, the long reach of displacement/DP camps, and Jewish activism in East and West Germany. The seminar welcomes returning and new participants. Additionally, the conveners will apply for a roundtable to engage in a discussion with the wider academic community.

Seminar Format

The aim and structure of the seminar tie in directly to each other: sources will be distributed by the conveners, and previous participants will present their recent findings. The intersecting areas between the participants will be established to link and relate research topics further, and facilitate the future scholarly process.

Proposed Size: 12-15

Silent Auditors: 1-5

 

14. Liberalism and Its Discontents: Music and Culture in German-Speaking Europe, 1848-1914

Conveners

Jonathan Gentry, Kennesaw State University (jgentr30@kennesaw.edu)

Benjamin Korstvedt, Clark University (bkorstvedt@clarku.edu)

Karen Leistra-Jones, Franklin & Marshall College (karen.leistra-jones@fandm.edu)

Seminar Description

Since the 1990s, critical exploration of the roles played by liberalism in musical life in German-speaking Europe has provided invaluable insight into key aesthetic questions of the late 19th century. The most influential line of interpretation, guided by Carl Schorske’s work on fin-de-siècle Vienna, has identified aesthetic values and dispositions associated with liberalism in the composition and reception of concert and chamber music. This approach fostered valuable new perspectives, but has remained problematically formulaic. Moreover, recent scholarship in history and literary studies has painted a more complex and nuanced picture of liberalism that has not yet been adequately engaged by studies of 19th-century music. This seminar aims to broaden and deepen the discussion of liberalism and musical culture by reaching across Central European society and into the early 20th century, and by bringing together critical perspectives from cultural studies, critical theory, history, and German studies, as well as musicology.

Seminar Format

The seminar will include participants from different disciplines (musicology, history, cultural studies, and German studies). Our discussions each day will be based on 3-4 readings and pre-circulated questions. Each participant will also write a position paper of 2-3 pages, due 31 August, that engages with one day’s assigned readings.

Proposed Size: 12-15

Silent Auditors: 1-5

 

15. Literary Morphology: Theories of Dynamic Form before and after Goethe

Conveners

Eva Axer, Zentrum für Literatur- und Kulturforschung (ZfL) Berlin (axer@zfl-berlin.org)

Siarhei Biareishyk, Zentrum für Literatur- und Kulturforschung (ZfL) Berlin (biareishyk@zfl-berlin.org)

Ross Shields, Columbia University (rgs2129@columbia.edu)

Seminar Description

Morphology reimagines form as a dynamic category – this is true not only of the internal structure of individual organisms, but also of the genera composed of those individuals. This seminar will explore the potential of morphology to conceive of literary works and literary genres in dynamic terms. To this end, we will compare Goethe’s science of morphology with concepts of dynamic form advanced before and after Goethe: from early-modern philosophy (e.g., Spinoza, Baumgarten) to 20th-century theories of language and literature (e.g., Wittgenstein, Formalism, morphologische Literaturwissenschaften). By juxtaposing these theories and philosophies, we will ask (among other things): How can the study of literature contribute to a general concept of dynamic form? To what extent can morphology account for the historical and political contexts of literary production? What are the possibilities and limits of morphological approaches in literary analysis?

Seminar Format

The conveners will compile a corpus of texts in dialogue with the participants. The finalized reader will be circulated two months before the conference. Each participant will be responsible for a five-page reaction paper that will facilitate discussion of the assigned texts.

Proposed Size: 12-15

Silent Auditors: 1-5

 

16. Mapping Identities through Mobilities

Conveners

Liesl Allingham, The University of the South (lialling@sewanee.edu)

Stefanie Ohnesorg, University of Tennessee (ohnesorg@utk.edu)

Seminar Description

Mobility is one of the factors that defines people in concrete ways. For example, mobile practices define pedestrians, drivers, and pilots; motivational forces define refugees, immigrants, and tourists. Ideology can also define mobile identities. Historically, pilgrims, explorers, tourists, and participants on a Grand Tour have been linked to personal enrichment, religious devotion, and leisure, and these types of mobilities have been widely perceived and depicted as positive. Similarly, the contemporary focus on globalization and transnationalism has led to a more positive reception of mobile forms of identities and challenged the claims to authenticity and “rootedness” at the core of traditional notions of place-based identities. Nonetheless, throughout history there have been many forms of mobilities that have been ideologically defined as transgressive or deviant and marginalized. This seminar explores the relationship between mobilities and identity formation across all media. We are particularly interested in papers that focus on the intersection of mobility with race, gender, and sexuality.

Seminar Format

Participants will be required to write a paper of 8-10 pages; another seminar member will serve as a respondent and discussion leader for that paper. All papers will be circulated six weeks in advance of the conference. The conveners will moderate the discussion and may also prepare short papers.

Proposed Size: 16-20

Silent Auditors: 1-5

 

17. Material Culture and the Sacred

Conveners

Peter Erickson, Colorado State University (Peter.Erickson@colostate.edu)

Alice Goff, University of Chicago (agoff@uchicago.edu)

Seminar Description

This seminar draws from recent work on materiality and material culture across the humanities to examine the role of the sacred in German history, culture, and aesthetics. In light of a romantic tradition that has often set these two domains (sacredness/materiality) in opposition to one another, the seminar takes up two primary lines of inquiry. The first is devoted to subverting this paradigm by investigating the entanglements between the material and the sacred through themes such as: iconoclasm and religious violence; devotional practices and sacramentality; the problematic (and often obtrusive) materiality of works of art; and practices of mourning and memorialization. At the same time, we strive to make sense of the ways in which this opposition emerged historically and to trace its intellectual development. We are especially interested in contributions that explore the interactions of the sacred and material culture as they relate to discourses of secularization, gender, and aesthetics.

Seminar Format

We hope to bring together scholars from a wide variety of disciplines. Discussion will center on pre-circulated papers of 4-5 pages. During the course of the seminar, participants will be invited to speak for 3-5 minutes on their main theses before we open the floor to discussion.

Proposed Size: 12-15

Silent Auditors: 6-10

 

18. On the Very Concept of Autofiction: Theory and History

Conveners

Carsten Dutt, University of Notre Dame (Carsten.H.Dutt.5@nd.edu)

Steffen Kaupp, University of Notre Dame (skaupp@nd.edu)

Gertrud Maria Rösch, Universität Heidelberg (roesch@idf.uni-heidelberg.de)

Seminar Description

“Autofiction” has become a much used and debated term in contemporary literary studies. It highlights the fact that literary forms of self-representation like auto­biography, memoir, or diary can, and quite often do, rely on the power and freedom of imaginative writing. When he coined “autofiction” in 1977, French writer Serge Doubrovsky defined the term as referring to “a fictional rendering of strictly real events and facts.” However, several crucial questions, both theoretical and historical, arise from this definition and its repercussions in recent scholarship: Does autofictional writing allow for interpretively viable classifications according to the diegetic modes, host genres, author and reader roles upon which it draws? How do different forms of autofiction relate to each other in a diachronic perspective that traces and explains developments of autofictional writing in a broader literary and cultural context? The seminar engages with these and related questions to chart new territory in autofiction research.

Seminar Format

Seminar is organized around a selection of theoretical and historical texts, guiding research questions, and participants’ position papers. In May, the co-conveners will disseminate the readings and key questions, based on which participants will write a 2000-word paper due 15 August, connecting the seminar readings and questions with their own research.

Proposed Size: 16-20

Silent Auditors: 0

 

19. Popular Culture in 20th-Century Germany

Conveners

Jeff Hayton, Wichita State University (jeff.hayton@wichita.edu)

Martin Rempe, Universität Konstanz (martin.rempe@uni-konstanz.de)

Julia Sneeringer, Queens College & City University of New York Graduate Center (julia.sneeringer@qc.cuny.edu)

Seminar Description

In the introduction to Popgeschichte (2014), Bodo Mrozek and Alexa Geisthövel write that pop culture has been making its intellectual “long march through the institutions” for the past 25 years. This has generated a large literature on a wide range of popular culture phenomena in modern Germany, from Völkerschauen and dance halls to rock music and fashion. This seminar will take stock of the field by engaging with some of these works, and some key theoretical texts on the meanings and uses of popular culture. Over three days, the seminar will explore themes relating to Time and Space, Production and Consumption, and Identity and Community. We are interested in issues such as the materiality of mass culture at particular historical moments, audiences and their uses of popular culture, cosmopolitanism and the city, and how the story of modern Germany changes when we put popular culture at the center of the narrative.

Seminar Format

The conveners will circulate a series of readings in advance of the seminar, which participants will reflect on, engage with, and challenge. Participants will then prepare a short position paper in which they grapple with the issues raised by the readings and apply them to their own work.

Proposed Size: 12-15

Silent Auditors: 1-5

 

20. Private Matters: Expanding the Margins of the Lebenslauf

Conveners

Leslie Morris, University of Minnesota (morri074@umn.edu)

Karen Remmler, Mount Holyoke College (kremmler@mtholyoke.edu)

Seminar Description

This seminar will bring together a diverse group of scholars to think about how our private lives intersect with our lives as academics. We will explore what has led us to engage with genealogies that are both connected to and seemingly unrelated to our work in German studies. What are some of the affective – both conscious and unconscious – mechanisms that drive our scholarly work? How can we reconstitute the curriculum vitae so that the private is no longer absent, invisible, on the margins? And how does this help us to rethink what constitutes knowledge and scholarship in the first place? There are complex and often unacknowledged motives for why we do the scholarship that we do. While there are often direct family histories that shape our scholarly lives, we also explore how unexpected hybrid origins might serve as a point of departure.

Seminar Format

As a variant on the seminar format, we propose a work in progress workshop based on pre-circulated five-page papers or excerpts that reflect upon the questions raised in the description. We are interested in writing that expands the frame of what is typically contained within the margins of the CV.

Proposed Size: 12-15

Silent Auditors: 0

 

21. Race Theory in Classical German Thought

Conveners

Sally Hatch Gray, Mississippi State University (SGray@cmll.msstate.edu)

Michael Saman, New York University (michael.saman@nyu.edu)

Seminar Description

Contemporary critical race theory is beginning to explore the roots of the modern concept of “race” in German Enlightenment and post-Enlightenment thought, just as German cultural history is beginning to realize the centrality of this concept within some of its most formative ideas. This seminar will focus on three figures whose work was key in formulating the modern conception of race: Kant, who gave the term its first “scientific” definition; Herder, who proposed a paradigm of cultural anthropology distinct from the more biological orientation of Kant; and Hegel, who canonized conceptions of race within his construction of world history. In addition to texts by these three figures, readings will include recent secondary materials, as well as supplementary primary materials by Forster, Blumenbach, and Kleist.

Seminar Format

Each day of the seminar will be structured around a cluster of readings (Day 1, Kant; Day 2, Herder; Day 3, Hegel). The conveners will distribute discussion questions in advance, and all participants will be expected to submit three short written responses, one for each session’s materials.

Proposed Size: 16-20

Silent Auditors: 1-5

 

22. The Rise of the Alternative for Germany and the Transformation of German Politics

Conveners

Louise Davidson-Schmich, University of Miami (davidson@miami.edu)

Sarah Elise Wiliarty, Wesleyan University (swiliarty@wesleyan.edu)

Seminar Description

The rise of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) is transforming German politics in a variety of ways. Now that the AfD is represented in the Bundestag, the established political parties must cope with more complicated coalition arrangements and new parliamentary colleagues while they continue to contemplate strategic position-taking to keep the AfD in check. The AfD itself will surely be transformed through the experience of parliamentary representation. The media have to wrestle with the appropriate level and tone of coverage. Civil society organizations need to consider how to respond to the rise of the AfD. Traditional organizations, such as unions and churches, may want to engage potential AfD supporters. Civil society organizations focused on assisting immigrants and expanding gender-based rights will need to consider how to respond to the growing threat from the AfD. We also welcome historical perspectives on these issues.

Seminar Format

Participants in the seminar will prepare a paper for distribution in advance of the annual meeting of the GSA. Each participant will present his or her paper for discussion during the seminar meeting time and another participant will be designated to give a response.

Proposed Size: 12-15

Silent Auditors: 1-5

 

23. The Science of the Psyche

 

Conveners

Jocelyn Holland, California Institute of Technology (jholland@caltech.edu)

Sarah Porciau, Technische Universität, Berlin (sarahmpourciau@gmail.com)

Seminar Description

The question of how to quantify the qualities of the mind (Geist, pneuma, esprit) – how to measure its effective yet immaterial forms of force – has acquired a particular urgency over the course of the past centuries, as part of the scientific quest for a holistic understanding of the world. This seminar’s goal is to facilitate research into the various “psychophysical” paradigms within which such attempts at quantification have historically taken place, emphasizing those which have received less critical attention. The influence of such paradigms extends to every domain of cultural production, from literature, visual art, and philosophy to media theory, sociology, experimental psychology, cognitive science, and psychoanalysis. With input from the participants, the co-organizers will compile and circulate a corpus of texts representative of 19th- and early 20th-century approaches to the quantification of psychic phenomena. These readings will form the basis of our discussions.

Seminar Format

This seminar is discussion-based. Instead of giving formal presentations, participants will comment on a selection of texts that they will receive at the beginning of the summer. Readings are likely to include selections by Ernst Weber, Wilhelm Wundt, and Gustav Fechner, among others. Suggestions from participants are welcome.

Proposed Size: 12-15

Silent Auditors: 0

24. Socialist Cities: New Themes in Urban History in East Germany and the Global Second World

Conveners

Eli Rubin, Western Michigan University (eli.rubin@wmich.edu)

Kimberly Elman Zarecor, Iowa State University (zarecor@iastate.edu)

Seminar Description

A growing group of scholars have turned their attention to research on socialist cities in the last ten years. Much of this research has emerged through in-depth case studies that emphasize national specificity and make claims for the uniqueness of particular examples to counter a narrative of homogeneity across the Second World. Inspired by methodologies used in comparative urban studies, this seminar will invite scholars of East German cities and those working on socialist cities in other parts of the world to discuss the differences and the similarities between individual case studies with the goal of developing a comparative transnational framework for future research. The source material for the seminar will be drawn from disciplines including urban history, art and architectural history, geography, anthropology, and sociology. Among the questions the seminar asks: what similarities and differences exist between East German cities and those of other socialist nations?

Seminar Format

A month in advance, participants will circulate a summary of their research and publications on a specific socialist city or work on socialist urban space, and will read key work in methodology and historiography. The goal will be to compare work on specific socialist cities and socialist urban history.

Proposed Size: 12-15

Silent Auditors: 1-5

 

25. The Studied Environment

Conveners

Matthew Birkhold, Ohio State University (birkhold.22@osu.edu)

Vance Byrd, Grinnell College (byrdvl@grinnell.edu)

Seminar Description

This seminar explores the ways in which the scientific, artistic, legal, and economic study of nature transformed how the environment was understood in 18th- and 19th-century Central Europe. We conceive “environmental study” broadly, from the representation of the natural world in maps, paintings, and literature to scientific measurements of glaciers, the quantifications of trees, and collections of rocks and insects. How did these studies shape conceptions of nature, space, sustainability, agency, citizenship, and the state? Are there shared discursive strategies, visual logics, and conceptual models between environmental studies and cultural production? How did media innovations in storage and reproduction transmit knowledge found in these studies? We are interested in a diverse range of objects, including literature, artworks, scientific texts, maps, collections, law books, and administrative regulations. We welcome scholars working on regional, national, and global studies of the environment and encourage studies from all disciplines.

Seminar Format

Participants will write a 1,000-word position paper based on common readings and their own research. These essays will be distributed in advance and will form the basis of each day’s discussion. Each session will begin with a presentation by participants assigned to that day’s thematic area.

Proposed Size: 12-15

Silent Auditors: 1-5

 

26. Teaching German History in the 21st Century: Challenges and Strategies

Conveners

Andrew Evans, State University of New York, New Paltz (evansa@newpaltz.edu)

Heather R. Perry, University of North Carolina at Charlotte (hrperry@uncc.edu)

Seminar Description

Today more than ever, German history seems increasingly relevant. Whether discussing the current refugee crisis in Europe – and reactions to it; the rise of populist governments and the resurgence of xenophobic nationalism; Grexit and the Euro crisis; or Brexit and the future of a united Europe, scholars, students, and the general public increasingly look to Germany's turbulent history for explanations, comparisons, and solutions. In this seminar, participants will discuss the goals and challenges of teaching German history and culture in the 21st century and the strategies they have developed for meeting them. In addition to discussing practical matters such as course design, materials, and assignments, participants will also share strategies for meeting mandated student learning outcomes (SLOs), using technology and various LMS programs, helping students avoid plagiarism, and other pedagogical matters.

Seminar Format

Participants will circulate their current syllabus and a two-page course description that outlines specific learning goals, strength of approach, and recurrent challenges. Each day, we will share, discuss, and advise. Day 1: teaching the broad survey; Day 2: teaching the German history research seminar; Day 3: teaching thematic courses (Third Reich; Comparative Fascism; Women/Gender).

Proposed Size: 12-15

Silent Auditors: 6-10

 

27. The “Tender Gaze” in Film and Literature

Conveners

Muriel Cormican, University of West Georgia (mcormica@westga.edu)

Jennifer Marston William, Purdue University (jmwilliam@purdue.edu)

Seminar Description

In the 1970s, film theorist Laura Mulvey coined the term “male gaze” to describe a voyeuristic masculine viewpoint in filmmaking and spectatorship. Four decades later, we seek alternatives to the problematic male gaze that are not equally tied up in gender binaries. In this seminar, we will explore the concept of the “tender gaze” (Cormican) as it is discernible in German film (e.g. via camerawork and facial expressions) and literature (e.g. via narrative stance). The tender gaze is characterized as a humanizing rather than an objectifying position, and it represents a compassionate rather than a detached stance. The tender gaze can contribute to sociopolitical critique and subversion in literary and filmic works. It also encourages perspective-taking and a cognitive-affective response in readers and spectators that, as studies indicate, promotes empathy and prosocial behavior. Our seminar will examine the tender gaze from the standpoints of production, performance, and reception.

Seminar Format

Participants will submit a paper of 12-15 pages, by 31 July, that analyzes films or literary works, concentrating on the functions and effects of the “tender gaze” in those works. A short supplemental reading and film list will be provided as a framework for the seminar discussions.

Proposed Size: 12-15

Silent Auditors: 1-5

 

28. Transdisciplinary Theoretical Approaches to Right-Wing Politics

Conveners

Karin Liebhart, University of Vienna (karin.liebhart@univie.ac.at)

Johanna Schuster-Craig, Michigan State University (johanna.schustercraig@gmail.com)

 

Seminar Description

This seminar seeks to bring research from the fields of sociology, political science, gender studies, and cultural critique into a US-German Studies framework. In media attention to the right-wing in Germany and Austria, right-wing radicalism, right-wing extremism, and right-wing populism are often conflated. This seminar seeks to analyze German and Austrian right-wing politics through an intersectional, feminist framework, accounting for the way that gender, class, and whiteness are articulated in those contemporary right-wing parties represented in the German and Austrian parliaments, as well as in non-parliamentary movements such as PEGIDA, the Identitarians, and fringe white nationalist groups. We will use the seminar format to explore both theoretical writings and contemporary media attention to transnational shifts rightward across the political spectrum.

Seminar Format

The seminar will include theoretical and methodological readings along with 1000-word position papers from participants. In May, a list of core readings will be circulated for participants to read and respond to in position papers. In August, participants will submit their papers for distribution.

Proposed Size: 12-15

Silent Auditors: 1-5

 

29. Weimar Culture Revisited

Conveners

Kathleen Canning, Rice University (kcanning@rice.edu)

Sabine Hake, University of Texas at Austin (hake@austin.utexas.edu)

Barbara McCloskey, University of Pittsburgh (barbara.mccloskey@pitt.edu)

Seminar Description

Preparations are underway for the centennial of the founding of the Weimar Republic and a wave of exhibitions, publications, and conferences on Weimar culture – a welcome opportunity for German studies scholars to discuss its role in the dominant narratives of liberal democracy, modern mass culture, and politically committed art. It is the main goal of this seminar to revisit the critical terms that have guided academic studies and popular myths on Weimar culture since the postwar years and turned it into a model for cultural studies, critical theory, and interdisciplinary research. The conveners are particularly interested in liberating Weimar culture from nation-based models and teleological (i.e., prefascist) narratives and considering its resonances in what could be called global Weimar: first under the conditions of exile, then in the binary terms of the Cold War, and now as part of very different configurations of culture and democracy.

Seminar Format

The seminar will bring together scholars from various academic disciplines and with different critical approaches. Discussion will be based on participants’ papers of no more than 10,000 words, due on 1 August. The conveners will organize these discussions around larger theoretical and methodological questions.

Proposed Size: 16-20

Silent Auditors: 0

 

30. Writing Global Crises: New Approaches to Reading Elfriede Jelinek

Conveners

Evelyn Deutsch-Schreiner, Universität für Musik und Darstellende Kunst (Graz) (evelyn.deutsch-schreiner@kug.ac.at)

Teresa Kovacs, University of Michigan (tekovacs@umich.edu)

Margarete Lamb-Faffelberger, Lafayette College (lambfafm@lafayette.edu)

Seminar Description

Elfriede Jelinek’s writing focuses on political issues, economic and ecological crises, as well as humanitarian disasters. By interrogating language in regard to its democratic possibilities, Jelinek's theatrical texts challenge totalitarian structures. In this seminar, we will consider Jelinek’s work through the lens of current global crises, namely heightened neoliberalism and authoritarianism, both of which endanger long-standing democracies. To this end, we encourage scholars from a variety of disciplines to present their readings of Jelinek.

 

As we consider “best practices” for engaging with both her earlier and more recent texts, we will respond to the misperception of Jelinek as a writer with a strictly “Austrian” reach. In so doing, we hope to bring to light and deliberate on the global dimension of her writing, which all too often remains unnoticed despite her having received the Nobel Prize. Moreover, we will discuss creative ways of teaching Jelinek at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Seminar Format

This seminar seeks to spark conversations rather than presentations of formal papers. Participants will circulate in advance 1000-word position papers, a 500-word description of their Jelinek research and/or teaching, and a 300-word statement on the trajectories of their Jelinek research and/or teaching. Conveners will provide materials on theoretical approaches.

Proposed Size: 12-15

Silent Auditors: 1-5