Silent Auditors for Seminars


This year’s GSA Conference in Portland, Oregon will again feature a number of three-day seminars. As in the past, this year’s conference will also allow for a limited number of auditors to attend individual seminar streams. Auditors attend the seminar but are not formal participants, so they may take on other presenting roles at the conference. Please note that the specific roles and rules for auditors will be defined by the respective seminar conveners. 


If you are interested in auditing a seminar, please contact and apply to the seminar’s convenors directly. Below you will find a list of seminars available for auditors. Due to space restrictions and other considerations, we must ask convenors not to admit more auditors to their seminars than the number specified. The number of auditors is limited to six regardless of the number of conveners and active participants. The full list of seminar topics including active participants can be found in the GSA Conference Program.


005, 140, 278. Asian German Studies (5)

Fri, Sat, Sun 8:00 - 10:00 AM   Pacific Empire


Conveners: Bettina Brandt, Penn State University,

Lydia Gerber, Washington State University,

Doug McGetchin, Florida Atlantic University,


Participants 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, although other topic areas are welcome, this seminar focuses on four areas: (1) transnational contact (literary, economic, political, intellectual, philosophical); (2) the Holocaust and other genocides in Asia, including teaching about them; (3) comparative Literature, Image Studies, and the challenges and opportunities of translation, including cinema and consumer culture; and (4) transnational caring, including age and aging, climate/environment, worldwide water problems, new energy projects, climate catastrophes, as well as literary imaginations about changing climate/environment. This third GSA Asian German Studies seminar continues the success of the 2017 and 2018 seminars and the panel series begun in 2009, fostering a lively scholarly community engaged with contacts between Asians and Germans.


007, 141, 281. Building Community: Approaches to Medieval and Early Modern Germany (sponsored by YMAGINA) (1)


Conveners: Kathryn Starkey, Stanford University,

Claire Taylor Jones, University of Notre Dame,

Christian Schneider, Washington University in St. Louis,


This seminar provides a forum for the exchange of ideas between scholars in all disciplines working on German materials pre-1750. We strongly encourage the participation of scholars in history, literary studies, music, religious studies, art history, etc. The topic "Building Community" refers both to the purpose of this seminar, namely to foster interdisciplinary conversations between medievalists and early modernists, and to the topic under discussion. "Community" may be defined in a myriad of ways and includes (but is not limited to) religious, secular, social, intellectual, artistic, sensory, emotional, and family communities. Seminar participants may want to consider some of the follow questions: What are the processes by which the communities I work on are established? What constitutes a community in my field? What objects are important to the communities I study and why? Graduate students are strongly encouraged to participate.


014, 146, 284. DH and German Studies: Intersections, Innovations, Opportunities (sponsored by the Digital Humanities Network) (4)

Fri, Sat, Sun 8:00 - 10:00 AM   Park


Conveners: Dr. Anke Finger, University of Connecticut,

Dr. Martin Sheehan, Tennessee Technological University,


The humanities are facing increasing pressure to sustain high levels of innovative scholarship while breaking through research silos so as to advocate for and benefit from multimodal communication with technology. The new modes of research, instruction, and publication that the digital humanities (DH) collectively represent offer all scholars new avenues for a wide variety of transdisciplinary and collaborative endeavors that they might not be aware of. To that end, this seminar explores how digital tools and computational methods can advance how we construct and communicate knowledge in German Studies. We will discuss how to apply digital tools and methodologies more effectively and thoughtfully so that we can integrate them into our instruction and/or research. Although no prior technical experience or knowledge is expected, scholars with intermediate and advanced proficiency levels with digital tools and DH are encouraged to apply so as to extend collaboration and networking opportunities.


015, 147, 286. Doing Emotions in German Studies (sponsored by the Emotion Studies Network) (6)

Fri, Sat, Sun 8:00 - 10:00 AM   Boardroom West


Conveners: Derek Hillard, Kansas State University,

Erika Quinn, Eureka College,

Holly Yanacek, James Madison University,


This seminar aims to bring a twist to existing emotions studies by focusing less on claims about the nature or definition of emotions than on acts and scenes of investigating, practicing, or “doing emotions.” For instance, one thinks of the work of path-breaking historians and scholars who were compelled to craft new methods for exploring emotions in history, the arts, and culture. This would also involve aesthetic or performative situations where—to adapt J.L. Austin’s book on speech act theory—at issue is how to do things with emotions. At the same time, we wish to explore the unexamined angles from which to view teaching and researching emotions as doing emotions. Examples might include:


  • Teaching the history of emotions and emotions in the classroom
  • Emotions in the archives
  • Political emotions and emotional politics past and present
  • Early theories of emotion (Norbert Elias, Aby Warburg, et al) and emotion studies today


075, 212, 346. The Duty of Art: Ethics & Empathy in Aesthetic Theory (1)

Fri, Sat, Sun 10:15 - 12:15 PM   Suite 5


Conveners: Frauke Berndt, University of Zurich,

Fritz Breithaupt, Indiana University Bloomington,

Carolin Rocks, University of Zurich,


By arguing that we should attend to art’s responsibilities toward society, politics, ecology, and economics, this seminar advances a paradigm shift and contributes to debates on posthumanist ethics. In the last fifty years, aesthetics has dealt almost exclusively with the autonomy of art; indeed, it has even propagated a developmental history in which heteronomous aesthetics inescapably leads to autonomous aesthetics. On the one hand, we want to explore an alternative history of 18th- to 21st-century aesthetic theory in which ethics and empathy play a central role. On the other, we want to analyze scenes, images, and narratives in which ethical and empathic acting can be observed. Due to their related practices, ethics and empathy are key to describing aesthetic discourse in a complex way. Such approaches to heteronomous aesthetics do not imply that art is simply committed to moral didacticism but rather regard life as art’s measuring stick.


048, 184, 313. Environments, Resources, and Power in German Central Europe (6)

Fri, Sat, Sun 10:15 - 12:15 PM   Cabinet


Conveners: Victoria Harms, Johns Hopkins University,

Adrian Mitter, University of Toronto,


This GSA seminar seeks to explore the relationship between the environment, social, political and economic developments from the mid-19th century to 1945. Geographically focusing on the region between the Baltic and the Adriatic Seas, the Rhineland and Volhynia, we seek answers to questions such as: How did the natural landscape factor into the construction of collective identities? When, where and why did the exploitation of natural resources result in imperial, state or commercial interventions in local and regional affairs? How did “nature”, its exploration and exploitation advance or inhibit the building of infrastructure, industries, institutions, and nation-states? Apart from fostering scholarly exchange, the goal of the seminar is to develop an online platform for teaching and research materials on environmental history in Central Europe. This collection will provide resources for syllabi such as readings, links to primary and secondary sources, as well as lists of archives, museums, and online databases/ collections.


016, 148, 289. Family and Knowledge (sponsored by the Family and Kinship Network) (4)

Fri, Sat, Sun 8:00 - 10:00 AM   Suite 2


Conveners: Sarah Vandegrift Eldridge, University of Tennessee, Knoxville,   

Eleanor Ter Horst, University of South Alabama,

Margareth Lanzinger, Universität Wien,


This seminar explores "Das Wissen der Familie": what kind of knowledge about the family is produced in autobiographies, diaries, letters, literary texts, or films? What kinds of knowledge—about the domestic sphere, gender differences, or practical skills—are produced BY and transferred via the family across historical eras? The family is a site of education, both practical and affective; it further functions as a transmitter of wider social knowledge, mediating between social orders and individual. But it also has its secrets: it can suppress knowledge by keeping knowledge from family members or from outsiders; by hiding the explicitly political or producing an ideology of quietistic domesticity—how can hidden forms of knowledge be exposed? We invite participants from all periods of German Studies (history, literature, and film), and from all career stages; we particularly welcome multi- and interdisciplinary approaches, and those that address questions of diversity and inclusion.


052, 185, 319. Football (Soccer) in German-Speaking Europe: History, Politics and the Arts (6)

Fri, Sat, Sun 10:15 - 12:15 PM   Boardroom West


Conveners: Bastian Heinsohn, Bucknell University,

Rebekah Dawson, University of Kentucky,

Oliver Knabe, Miami University (Ohio),


Over the last century, the impact of football on German-speaking cultures has been manifold. The game has influenced the arts, political debates on topics such as sexual identity, national pride, and race, and has contributed to the construction of cultural memories and national narratives. Moreover, (theatrical) performance has become crucial to football’s aesthetics as an event sport that involves fans, media, players, and coaches. While clubs are critical to local economies and regional identities, the commercialization of professional football has provoked criticism and impacted its perception from the perspective of fans, journalists, and scholars. Football’s fascination lies in the multiple interpretations of the game which has been dubbed an art form, a surrogate for war, and an allegory of life and times.


We investigate football’s role in discourses on culture, history, and politics in connection to topics such as aesthetics, gender roles, disability, religion, class, economics, and collective identities.


055, 189, 323. German Politics in Popular Culture: Logics and Consequences of Transforming Political Institutions, Processes, and Actors into Entertainment (sponsored by DAAD) (6)


Conveners: Niko Switek, University of Washington,

Miriam Czichon, University of Bamberg,

Andreas Stuhlmann, University of Alberta,

Frank Gadinger, University of Duisburg-Essen,


Popular culture is all around us, it influences and shapes our thinking and opinions. Yet for Germany (in contrast to the US) there are few systematic explorations of the relationship between politics and popular culture. As we experience a notable rise in popular culture products that explicitly are set in the realm of politics (e.g. films, tv series), this seminar asks in which way the German political system, society and culture are represented in these works. What are mechanisms of transforming those subjects into stories meant to entertain and how does this affect readers and viewers? With an interdisciplinary perspective of political science, sociology and history as well as media and literature studies the seminar attempts to uncover or reconstruct deeply rooted patterns, pictures and narratives of politics, which are not only of relevance for fictional stories but might be equally potent in the ‘real’ political arena.


056, 191, 325. German-Speaking Women, Africa, and the African Diaspora (4)

Fri, Sat, Sun 10:15 - 12:15 PM   Pacific Empire


Conveners: Lisabeth Hock, Wayne State University, lhock@wayneedu

Michelle S. James, Brigham Young University,

Priscilla Layne, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill,


While connections between Germanic Europeans and African-descended peoples can be traced to the Middle Ages, the first known text about Africa by a German-speaking woman was Henrietta Herz’s 1799 translation of Mungo Park’s Journey to the Interior of Africa. In the next 150 years, most women with the education and authority to produce accounts of Africa were white, although there were also exceptions like Emily Ruete (1844-1924), author of Memoiren einer arabischen Prinzessin. Following WWII, increasing numbers of German-speaking women identifying as Black or Brown began to write and produce films, music and art dealing with this topic. This seminar explores the intersection of gender, race, and ethnicity in texts about Africa, Africans and the African Diaspora by German-speaking women of all backgrounds. The organizers welcome submissions from researchers in different disciplines, in particular literary and cultural studies, history, and art history, representing diverse ideological and theoretical approaches.


019, 151, 295. Goethe as a Heterodox Thinker (sponsored by the Goethe Society of North America) (2)

Fri, Sat, Sun 8:00 - 10:00 AM   Northwest


Conveners: Clark Muenzer, University of Pittsburgh,

Karin Schutjer, University of Oklahoma,

John H. Smith, University of California, Irvine,


This seminar will explore Goethe’s unique contribution to philosophical discourse. During the 2018 GSA, four panels were dedicated to “Goethe’s Philosophical Concepts.” They launched a multi-year project, a Goethe Lexicon of Philosophical Concepts, that will provide an ongoing online and print-on-demand collection of articles highlighting the novelty of Goethe’s thought. The project is inspired in part by Gilles Deleuze’s understanding of philosophy as the “creation of concepts,” and in part by Goethe himself, who wrote: “Kein Wort steht still sondern es rückt durch den Gebrauch von seinem anfänglichen Platz eher hinab als hinauf, eher ins Schlechtere als ins Bessere, ins Engere als ins Weitere, und an der Wandelbarkeit des Worts läßt sich die Wandelbarkeit der Begriffe erkennen” (Max. und Reflex. 983). The success of the panels encourages us to gather Goethezeit scholars of all ranks to discuss Goethe as heterodox thinker against the background of philosophical doxa.


059, 193, 328. In and Out of the Classroom: Innovations in Teaching in German History & Culture (sponsored by the Teaching Network) (2)

Fri, Sat, Sun 10:15 - 12:15 PM   Suite 2


Conveners: Elizabeth A. Drummond, Loyola Marymount University,

Andy Evans, State University of New York New Paltz,

Kristopher Imbrigotta, University of Puget Sound,


This seminar focuses on innovative approaches to teaching German history and culture. As scholars of German-speaking Europe, we face the challenge of engaging students and demonstrating the relevance of our courses. The study of history, language, and literature has been in decline in many universities across North America, as many universities have de-emphasized Europe in favor of a focus on Asia, Latin America, and/or Africa. We need teaching methods that encourage curiosity and foster mastery not only of disciplinary content but also of skills that will prepare students for twenty-first century lives. This seminar allows participants to design new approaches and materials. Each day will have a different focus: (1) project-based learning, including Digital Humanities projects, public and applied history projects, and research projects; (2) the use of simulations in class; and (3) experiential and on-site learning, including community-engaged learning, international immersions, and study abroad.


076, 214, 348. The Nations of Philology (6)

Fri, Sat, Sun 10:15 - 12:15 PM   Boardroom East


Conveners: Jakob Norberg, Duke University,

Christophrer Busch, University of Luxembourg,

Till Dembeck, University of Luxembourg,


The seminar seeks to explore critically the intricate entanglement of philology, literature, and the idea of a German nation, with an emphasis on the Sattelzeit (1750 – 1850). It focuses on two significant moves: the transfer of value from the classical languages to the vernacular as a medium for literature, and the framing of literature as a semiotic system that allows for the articulation and discernment of distinctions understood as cultural differences. Philology played a pivotal role in this process, as it amplified and rendered “wissenschaftlich” national differentiation; philologists even advanced themselves as interpreters of the national spirit, the “Volksgeist.” At the same time, philological scrutiny, as performed by for example the Brothers Grimm, was completely dependent on comparative analyses of multiple languages, and explored the inherent multilingualism of the German (and any other) language, thereby subverting the national paradigm.


034, 168, 308. The Nazi Legacy for Today’s America (3)

Fri, Sat, Sun 8:00 - 10:00 AM   Suite 5


Conveners: Gavriel Rosenfeld, Fairfield University,

Janet Ward, University of Oklahoma,


Diverse scholars at all levels of career development are invited to submit proposals addressing the complex relationship between populism, fascism, and antisemitism/racism in Germany and the United States. The seminar will examine the transatlantic connections between right-wing movements in both countries and investigate their reciprocal influences in both history and memory. In the effort to focus the seminar’s orientation, we especially welcome proposals on the following themes: 1) “Theorizing Populism, Fascism, and Nazism,” 2) “Historicizing the Radical Right in the United States and Germany,” 3) “Disseminating Hatred Past and Present: Propaganda, Social Media, and Rightwing Extremism.”


029, 164, 305. Reviewing German Film History from the Margins (6)

Fri, Sat, Sun 8:00 - 10:00 AM   Captain Gray 2


Convener: Claudia Sandberg, University of Melbourne,


Though cultural diversity, ideological conflicts, movement and migration have significantly shaped Germany’s identity since the end of WWII, their impact is not fully acknowledged in conventional approaches to German film history. With the transnational turn of recent years however, stories of hybrid cultural identities, migration and displacement become increasingly recognized, a tendency which challenges dominant post-Cold War ideological views and promotes research on formerly subversive voices. This seminar aims to conceptualize German film and history from perspectives located either outside of or considered geographically, politically or aesthetically marginal to the mainstream. With this approach to German film we highlight perspectives that challenge predominant narratives, that add sets of alternative imaginaries to German film and that suggest different forms of collective belonging. We welcome experts from various disciplines whose work focuses on transnational film productions, transcultural and hybrid aesthetics, migration, diaspora and exile; to review German filmmaking beyond an established cinema canon.


002, 138, 274. "Special Languages": Linguistic Others and Social Order (6)

Fri, Sat, Sun 8:00 - 10:00 AM   Cabinet


Conveners: Sophie Salvo, University of Chicago,

Adam Knowles, Drexel University,

Yuliya Komska, Dartmouth College,


In “the politics of us and them,” as philosopher Jason Stanley describes the making of social fractures (How Fascism Works, 2018), language and languages play key roles. From jargon use to linguistic profiling, from transparent language advocacy to accentism, inventing, imagining, classifying, and theorizing “Other” languages can serve exclusion or inclusion. This seminar considers what the study of Sondersprachen (special languages) in Germanophone cultures adds to understanding the linguistic aspects of society-fashioning across cultures and disciplines.


Defined in opposition to a dominant language, the category Sondersprachen has historically included any deviance from a given linguistic norm: dialects, sociolects, creoles (Kanak Sprak), group-specific languages (Fachsprachen or even Nazi-Deutsch), gendered languages (Frauensprachen), constructed languages (lingua ignota or Volapük), and even animal languages. The seminar mines the category to examine how linguistic norms and exceptions can be mobilized to shape society and thought, from governance to academic practice, from publishing to civic life.


072, 209, 344. Sustainability and German Studies: From Ecocriticism to Community Engagement (sponsored by the Environmental Studies Network and AATG) (6)

Fri, Sat, Sun 10:15 - 12:15 PM   Suite 1


Conveners: Seth Peabody, St. Olaf College,

Dan Nolan, University of Minnesota Duluth,


Interest in the intersection of German Studies and environmental sustainability has recently led to a significant number of publications and curriculum development projects. German film, cultural studies, and theory have garnered attention from scholars in the Environmental aadHumanities. Further, new curricular and co-curricular projects have extended the interest in German environmental(ist) culture to include relationship-building with sustainability stakeholders on campus and in surrounding communities. This seminar invites participants to reflect comprehensively on how this interest contributes to, challenges, and expands contemporary approaches to German Studies in the US.


Through contributor papers and guided discussions, we will explore new possibilities for ecocritical analysis, engaged scholarship, program growth, community partnership development, and interdisciplinary intercultural learning.


The seminar is sponsored by AATG, with support from the GSA Environmental Studies Network.


073, 210, 345. Teaching East German Culture: From the GDR to the Present (6)

Fri, Sat, Sun 10:15 - 12:15 PM   Captain Gray 2


Conveners: April A. Eisman, Iowa State University,

Sonja E. Klocke, University of Wisconsin – Madison,


In the wake of the economic collapse of 2008, there has been increasing interest among students and university teachers alike in both the history of real-existing socialism and in the lessons that can be learned from that past. This seminar seeks to bring together passionate scholar-teachers of East German culture to present papers that can serve as a starting point for an edited volume titled, Teaching East German Culture: From the GDR to the Present. Areas of interest include the visual arts (architecture, art, design, film), broadcasting, literature, music, and cultural history. Participants will write 20-page papers that offer an overview of their cultural area in East Germany that could serve as the basis of a book chapter; they should include a short list of recommended texts for further reading, ideally in English. Alternatively, papers can focus on teaching exercises that can be readily employed in the classroom.