OCCT HT 2019 Week 4 Updates

On Tuesday (12 February) of Week 5, Chen Bar-Itzhak (Haifa University) will give a talk, The World Republic of Theory: Epistemic Inequality in World Literature Studies.

In our second discussion group session we focused on contemporary Arabic poetry produced by Palestinian, Iraqi, and Syrian refugees. Yousif M. Qasmiyeh (co-convener of the discussion group) facilitated this session and drew on work completed by the AHRC-ESRC funded Refugee Hosts project in Lebanon (Baddawi Camp and Hamra) and Jordan (Jerash and Al-Zarqa).  




1. Please join us at 5pm this Wednesday (6 February) at the Clarendon Institute (OX1 2HG) for a bilingual poetry reading by the Israeli poet Tahel Frosh

Frosh's debut collection Avarice (2014) brought her wide public acclaim and established her as one of the most prominent voices in contemporary Israeli poetry. 

This reading will feature poems from Avarice translated into English by Adriana X. Jacobs.  

The reading will end at 5:50.

2. 'Out of the air': Women, Creativity and Intelligence Work | Bletchley Park | Friday 8 March 2019

This one-day symposium will bring together writers, artists, scholars and technologists to explore the role of women in surveillance, transcription, cryptography, espionage, translation, observation, visualisation and recording. It will consider how this work influenced and inspired creativity following World War II, in art, science, and literature, and how it continues to place pressure on emerging technologically-enhanced means of expression and creative practices. What new modes of seeing, speaking, reading or writing have arisen?  How have women creatives challenged and been challenged by this?

The day's speakers and panellists will include Dr Khanta Dihal (Cambridge), Dr Natalie Ferris (Edinburgh), Dr Adam Guy (Oxford), Dr Julia Jordan (UCL), Dr James Purdon (St Andrews), Dr Sophie Seita (Cambridge), the artist Nye Thompson, the writers Joanna Walsh and JR Carpenter, and a keynote lecture from Professor Laura Salisbury (Exeter).

Hosted by Bletchley Park in collaboration with the school of Literatures, Languages and Cultures, University of Edinburgh, the Leverhulme Trust, and Kellogg College, University of Oxford.

The Mansion, Bletchley Park
10am - 5.30pm
Followed by readings and wine reception.





3.Baudelaire and Philosophy: A Conference sponsored by the British Society of Aesthetics

5-6 June 2019, Centre for Philosophy and Critical Thought, Goldsmiths, University of London and the Institut Français

Deadline for submissions: 21 March 2019

Isabelle Alfandary (Paris 3/CIPh)
Jennifer Bajorek (Hampshire)
Patrick ffrench (King’s College London)
Elissa Marder (Emory)
Adrian Rifkin (Goldsmiths)
Richard Rand (Paris)

Charles Baudelaire is a pivotal reference for debates on modernity, criticism and poetics, though in the domains of philosophy and critical theory his work is often approached solely through the prism of contemporary commentary. Baudelaire’s own engagement with the philosophical - for instance in his pairing of Joseph de Maistre and Edgar Allan Poe as critics of the metaphysics of “progress” - has also been insufficiently mined. Yet Baudelaire has been key for thinking about the transformations of the very conditions of aesthetic experience since the 19th century; his writings on the dandy and the poetic significance of intoxication, as well as his work as a critic of fine art and music, have arguably expanded notions of what counts as aesthetic experience, opening it up beyond questions of taste, value, or didactic ends. For Nietzsche, Sartre, Merleau-Ponty, Lukács, Benjamin, Lacan and others, Baudelaire reimagined the poet and the poetic as inseparable from their relations to the social, psychological, material and sexual and, as such, as figures through which such relations may be reevaluated. After Baudelaire, the urban and the technological are no longer mere themes but the very element in which aesthetic experience and poetic production take shape; after Baudelaire, the poem assumes the form of a crucible for new and altered states of “experience.” This had led to Baudelaire often being made synonymous with the notion of modernity, and in particular with the idea that novelty becomes a (or even the) key category for aesthetic experience and artistic production from the mid-nineteenth century onwards. Taking Baudelaire's own references to philosophy seriously, this conference will also explore the complexity of the relation between the received understanding of Baudelaire as a prophet of modernity and his opposition to any idea of progress that would reduce poetic beauty to a vehicle for social and moral development.

The conference will alternate between delving into specific poetic and critical texts by Baudelaire and tackling some of the key interpretations and uses of his work within philosophy and critical theory, from Georges Bataille to Jacques Derrida, Walter Benjamin to Jacques Rancière. The conference aims to do justice to the richness, complexity and ambiguity of Baudelaire’s critical and poetic writing, to explore his relation to philosophy and the philosophical, and to interrogate his place as a synonym for a certain conception of modernity.
Selected papers will be published as an edited collection or special journal issue.


Proposals for 20 minute papers are invited in all areas pertaining to Baudelaire’s relation to philosophical aesthetics and related areas (e.g. ethics and political philosophy, metaphysics, theology, philosophy of mind, critical theory). Please send abstracts of not more than 250 words together with a brief (50-100 word) biographical statement including affiliation, status (student or not) and contact details to: j.ng [at] gold.ac.uk and a.toscano [at] gold.ac.uk. Please also direct any questions to these addresses.

CONFERENCE ORGANISERS: Julia Ng and Alberto Toscano, CPCT, Goldsmiths, University of London



AGS Conference at the UNIVERSITY OF BRISTOL, 4-6 September 2019


The next conference of the Association for German Studies in Great Britain and Ireland will take place at the University of Bristol, 4-6 September 2019. The lead panel for the conference will be Citizenship, with a number of regular as well as one-off panels.

If you are interested in contributing a paper to any of these panels, please send your proposal directly to the e-mail address of the convenors listed below. Proposals for papers should be 150-200 words and should reach the relevant convenors by 5 April 2019.


Lead Panel
Convenors: Steffan Davies (Bristol); steffan.davies@bristol.ac.uk

'Two thousand years ago the proudest boast was civis Romanus sum. Today, in the world of freedom, the proudest boast is Ich bin ein Berliner.' Citizenship, as Kennedy's remark indicates, is both timeless and topical. Few concepts seem more contested, or more contradictory, in the present day. It is a legal category and, by extension, a marker of identity in the age of both the mobile 'world citizen' and the displaced refugee, the age of global interconnection where the pull of nationhood has not diminished. State citizenship also defines statelessness: it distinguishes insiders from outsiders and haves from have-nots. It denotes a form of belonging, though it does not define it; it overlaps with concepts like identity, integration, (mono-)linguistic competence and cultural knowledge, but imperfectly.

Whilst national citizenship may be the concept’s most immediate association, its extended meanings are numerous. 'Good citizenship' implies responsibilities more than rights. 'Citizenship of elsewhere' can be a virtue. It can express transcendental hope, as in St Paul's 'Denn wir haben hier keine bleibende Stadt', which opens the penultimate movement of Brahms' Ein deutsches Requiem. It can suggest utopian faith in progress, as when Marquis Posa claims that he is a citizen not of King Philipp's Spain, but of better centuries to come. 'Bürger' can describe local, civic ties as much as national belonging. Aspirations to 'global citizenship', on the other hand, make the local seem parochial, but can be just as much a perpetuation of privilege as an appeal to broad-mindedness. If 'Weltbürger' tends to be an affirmative term, 'Kosmopolit' has been one of (notably, anti-Semitic) abuse.

How has citizenship been imagined in literature, film and visual art? How does the national identity it marks intersect with other identities: gender, sexuality, ethnicity, locality? What is its significance in language teaching and language planning? What is its meaning for speakers of more than one language? What does either transnational or transcendental 'citizenship' really mean – and what is the place of translation, as process or as metaphor, in such a 'citizenship of elsewhere'? When, in the history of German-speaking countries, has citizenship been significantly at stake?

We invite papers on this theme from across the chronological and disciplinary breadth of German Studies and look forward to assembling a panel that represents the diversity and breadth of the field.

Linguistics, Language Teaching and Learning, and Translation Studies
Convenor: Melani Schröter (Reading); m.schroeter@reading.ac.uk

The linguistics standing panel at the AGS welcomes papers on any aspect of German and Germanic linguistics, including comparative studies, translation studies and research on teaching German as a foreign language. Papers may deal with diachronic linguistics or trends in current usage, second language acquisition, language policy, sociolinguistics and (critical) discourse analysis. A range of contributions is welcomed, those with a more theoretical and conceptual angle as well as those based on empirical research. A range of methodological approaches within empirical linguistic analysis is equally embraced.

Wir können alles. Außer Hochdeutsch. Linguistic variation and non-standard German
Convenor: Sascha Stollhans (Lancester); s.stollhans@lancester.ac.uk

This panel invites papers that focus on regional and non-standard varieties of German as well as language change. 'Varieties' is meant in a broad sense to include e.g. national standard varieties, dialects and sociolects, youth language, oral registers and online communication. Papers that are concerned with attitudes towards linguistic variation are also very welcome, just like papers that reflect on the role of variation in teaching German as a foreign language and teaching-related case studies.

Medieval and Early Modern Studies
Convenor: Henrike Lähnemann (Oxford); henrike.laehnemann@mod-langs.ox.ac.uk

This panel invites papers on all aspects of medieval and early modern culture: its literature, material culture, history and thought. The panel warmly welcomes comparative perspectives and work connecting this period to others.

Ecocritical Readings of Eighteenth-Century Literature in German
Convenor: Ellen Pilsworth (Reading); e.m.pilsworth@reading.ac.uk

This panel invites scholars to apply ecocritical readings to eighteenth-century literature in German. This period saw the beginnings of industrialisation and mechanisation, and yet the majority of people still lived in rural settings. How did writers at this time engage with the natural environment and/or humanity's effect on it?

Presentations could discuss:

- Depictions and experiences of the natural world and/or agriculture
- Critiques of or apologies for urbanisation; the division of ‘country’ and city
- Enlightenment ideas of selfhood based on anthropocentric ways of thinking

Nineteenth and early Twentieth-Century Studies
Convenor: Malcolm Spencer (Nottingham Trent); malcolm.spencer@ntu.ac.uk

Papers are invited on any aspect of the culture of German-speaking countries in the nineteenth century and earlier decades of the twentieth century (up to about 1930), including literature, theatre, visual and musical culture and thought. 

Switzerland and German Studies
Convenor: Richard McClelland (Bristol); richard.mcclelland@bristol.ac.uk

Switzerland occupies a geographically peripheral position in the German-speaking world, but does this peripherality also extend to its place within German Studies? This panel seeks to investigate this by inviting papers that ask where and how Swiss cultural products intersect with and inform debates within our discipline. How do Swiss artists and writers respond to: the fractured legacy of the past; globalisation and multiculturalism; multilingualism; belonging and Heimat; and potential environmental catastrophe? And how do the specific cultural, political and linguistic realities of modern Switzerland (as broadly defined) bring new understandings and nuance to such debates within contemporary German Studies?

Time and Space in Graphic Novels and Sequential Art
Convenor: Erica Wickerson (St John’s College, Cambridge); ehf20@cam.ac.uk

In the eighteenth century, Lessing’s Laokoon distinguished between the ‘temporal arts’ of literature and the ‘spatial arts’ of painting and sculpture. This panel will explore the concomitance of these notions of ‘temporal and spatial art’ brought together in the form of graphic narratives and comics.

Still images showing single moments in space and time may create a sense of temporal flow and spatial movement through their sequential order, their size, their colouring and shading, the 'gutter' (the space between the panels), their framing, even the destruction of such frames. Speech within comic panels situates us within 'real time', which may conflict with the stasis of the image. How does this differ from cinematic and literary narrative, already much explored by critics in terms of space and time? What are the particular possibilities afforded by the combination of static image and word? Germanic artists are situated within a rich European tradition of woodcut novels, sequential art, and graphic narratives. Papers might explore German-specific or comparative graphic narratives.

Theatre & Performance
Convenor: Lizzie Stewart (KCL); elizabeth.stewart@kcl.ac.uk

As researchers and teachers of German-language theatre and performance we perform not only in a specific language area but also with regard to a specific medium. This panel aims to create a space for discussion of theatre and performance research at the AGS. Contributions are invited in two formats: 1) Research papers of twenty minutes on German-language theatre or performance culture (contemporary or historical); 2) short briefs (5-7 min) for a roundtable discussion on 'devising new forms of collaboration', e.g. connecting theatre/performance researchers & practitioners within and beyond German Studies, doctoral training, potential for emulating models such as GSSN.

Between the Wars: German Americans in the US from 1919-1941
Convenor: Mark Benbow (Marymount University); mbenbow@marymount.edu

German immigrants and their families have been one of the most active and numerous immigrant groups in the United States dating from colonial times. The First World War and the accompanying anti-German panic in the U.S. led to lasting damage to the community: German language newspapers shuttered, shooting and other clubs closed, schools stopped teaching German classes. Even Prohibition had a strong anti-German component due to German dominance of the brewing industry. This panel will concentrate on the German-American community between the World Wars. Suggested topics include renewed migration to the U.S., German-American veterans of the war, the community’s response to the rise of the Nazi Party, response to Prohibition, etc. Other related subjects related to this topic are welcome.


5. CALL FOR PAPERS: The Pathological Body From the Mid-Nineteenth Century to the Present: European Literary and Cultural Perspectives


A one-day symposium at the Institute of Modern Languages (IMLR), Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU, UK

Friday 20 September 2019

Keynote Speaker: Dr Steven Wilson (Queen’s University Belfast)  

* With support from the Cassal Endowment Fund *


What is sickness, and how is it represented in literature? In his twenty-volume Rougon-Macquart novel cycle (1871–93), Émile Zola creates pathological bodies living within Napoleon III’s Second Empire (1852–70), a period which is represented as being engulfed by political and social sickness. It is in the last volume, Le Docteur Pascal, that there is hope embodied within Pascal’s newborn son, the potential ‘messiah’ of the French nation. In the aftermath of the disastrous Franco-Prussian War (1870–71), Zola’s cycle may be a literary reaction to the state of a weakened France in exalting the mythicised image of the mother and child, at once a symbol of purity and new beginnings. Reflecting on the multi-dimensional aspect of Zola’s Naturalism, Henri Mitterand writes that these novels are not merely a form of social and historical documentation, but, instead, offer a knowledge that is more intuitive, modern and poetic, and which might be termed an ‘anthropomythic naturalism’ (preface, Émile Zola, Le Docteur Pascal, p. 48). This symposium aims to explore the nexus of fears, anxieties and desires that society projects onto the body within European literature and culture, from the mid-nineteenth century to the present, tracing the birth and development of modern medicine. It will examine the widest meaning of sickness and the power dynamic between the body and society. Is sickness ever ‘just’ sickness, or is there often a covert ideological agenda that drives and constructs it? How can literature help us understand the relationship between the body and society? The symposium will take a transhistorical and transnational approach in order to see whether, and how, cultural anxieties which appropriate the body change and differ across European national boundaries during a time when medicine is establishing and asserting its increasing authority. The symposium will be an opportunity for colleagues to forge connections and to compare different approaches within the growing field of Medical Humanities within the Modern Languages.


Suggested themes include, but are not limited to:

Fin de siècle
Social order
Sacred and the religious
Illness and cure
Life and death
The other
Abject body

Proposals of c. 250 words for 20-minute papers in English and a 100-word biography should be emailed to the conference organiser, Dr Kit Yee Wong, by Sunday 28 April 2019. Notifications to potential speakers will be sent out by Saturday 25 May 2019.

Dr Kit Yee Wong
Associate Research Fellow
Dept. of Cultures and Languages
Birkbeck, University of London
43 Gordon Square

Email: pathbodylit@gmail.com


Comparative Criticism and Translation

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