Call for Seminar Applications

The 43rd GSA Conference in Portland, Oregon from October 3-6, 2019 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 or second morning slot to foster extended discussion, rigorous intellectual exchange, and intensified networking. They are led by two to four conveners and consist of 10 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 submission site is at You will use your username and password. Submitters must be current (2019) members. Please apply to only one seminar at a time. For more information, visit our current conference page.

The following seminars have been selected and approved for enrollment at the 2019 GSA Conference:<!--break-->

01 Asian German Studies

02 Beyond the Racial State: New Perspectives on Race in Nazi Germany

03 Beyond Versailles: From Brest-Litovsk to the End of the World War in East Central Europe (co-sponsored by the Association for the Advancement of Baltic Studies)

04 Building Community: Approaches to Medieval and Early Modern Germany (sponsored by YMAGINA)

05 Decolonizing German Studies Curricula

06 (De)Constructing Identities through Mobilities

07 DH and German Studies: Intersections, Innovations, Opportunities (sponsored by the Digital Humanities Network)

08 Doing Emotions in German Studies (sponsored by the Emotion Studies Network)

09 The Duty of Art: Ethics and Empathy in Aesthetic Theory

10 Environments, Resources, and Power in German Central Europe

11 Family and Knowledge (sponsored by the Family and Kinship Network)

12 Football (soccer) in German-Speaking Europe: History, Politics and the Arts

13 German Politics in Popular Culture: Logics and Consequences of Transforming Political Institutions, Processes, and Actors into Entertainment

14 German-Speaking Women, Africa, and the African Diaspora

15 Global Cultural Histories

16 Goethe as a Heterodox Thinker (sponsored by the Goethe Society of North America)

17 Identity in the "Post-Truth Era"

18 In and Out of the Classroom: Innovations in Teaching German History and Culture (sponsored by the Teaching Network)

19 Interdisciplinary Community on Gender in History and German Studies

20 Kulturtechnik

21 The Nations of Philology

22 The Nazi Legacy for Today’s America

23 Nietzsche and the Birth of Modernism

24 Reviewing German Film History from the Margins

25 Revisiting Lustmord in the #MeToo Era (sponsored by the Visual Culture Network)

26 "Special Languages": Linguistic Others and Social Order

27 States of Performance

28 Sustainability and German Studies: From Ecocriticism to Community Engagement (sponsored by the Environmental Studies Network and AATG)

29 Teaching East German Culture: From the GDR to the Present

30 Tourism and the Future of Holocaust Memory in Germany and Austria

01. Asian German Studies

Conveners: Bettina Brandt, Penn State University,

Lydia Gerber, Washington State University,

Doug McGetchin, Florida Atlantic University,

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, although other topic areas are welcome, this seminar will focus 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.

Format: To help create a focused seminar environment, participants will exchange abstracts (300 words) by April 1, 2019, papers (3600-6000 words) by August 15, 2019, and a brief (300 words) response to one other participant by September 15, 2019.

Silent Auditors: Yes

02. Beyond the Racial State: New Perspectives on Race in Nazi Germany

Conveners: Richard Wetzell, German Historical Institute,

Mark Roseman, Indiana University,

Devin Pendas, Boston College,

The seminar seeks to bring together scholars from a range of fields who are pursuing research projects on Nazi Germany in order to critically reevaluate the meaning and function of race in the Third Reich. Drawing on the conveners’ critique of the “racial state” paradigm in their co-edited volume Beyond the Racial State: Rethinking Nazi Germany (2017) and a set of common readings (to be selected with participants), the seminar invites scholars to discuss the ways in which recent research, including their own, might allow us to reappraise race’s meaning under Nazism and to complicate its relationship to the Nazis' agenda, actions, and appeal. We are particularly interested in research projects that shed new light on how racial discourse and ideology, racial science, and racial policy functioned in Nazi Germany. Transnational and comparative perspectives that locate Nazi policy in broader trends and the international flows of ideas are most welcome.

Format: Once seminar participants have been identified, we will solicit their suggestions for common readings; we will review these and make available 4-5 core texts, to be read before participants write their papers (max. 4,000 words, to be pre-circulated one month before GSA), relating their research to the seminar’s theme.

Silent Auditors: No

03. Beyond Versailles: From Brest-Litovsk to the End of the World War in East Central Europe (co-sponsored by the Association for the Advancement of Baltic Studies)

Conveners: Olavi Arens, Georgia Southern University,  

Jesse Kauffman, Eastern Michigan University,  

Klaus Richter, University of Birmingham,  

The seminar, co-sponsored by the Association for the Advancement of Baltic Studies, seeks to complicate the narrative that ends the war with the Versailles treaties by including the Brest-Litovsk treaties.  We encourage proposals on a wide range of topics relating to postwar settlements to the East, including the impact of the Brest-Litovsk treaties on German and Austro-Hungarian internal politics, the ways German military authorities interacted with the population of the occupied territories, the effect of the treaties on state-building – Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine – and the reactions of the Entente powers, the United States, and Soviet Russia to the postwar settlement process. We welcome submissions on a broad range of topics related to the end of the war in East-Central Europe, including German foreign policy toward the region and economic and cultural relations with the populations of the area. 

Format: The seminar participants should read Borislav Chernev´s Twilight of Europe and can suggest relevant article-length background readings; a selection of these will be shared among all participants by August 2019.  The final organization of seminar themes will be grouped according to the proposals we receive. 

Silent Auditors: Yes

04. Building Community: Approaches to Medieval and Early Modern Germany (sponsored by YMAGINA)

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.

Format: Participants will be asked to circulate by September 1 EITHER a 2,500-3,000-word research paper OR a short primary source with a 1,000-1,500-word description of their approach (research questions, methodological/theoretical issues). One session will be devoted to group analysis of primary sources and the other days to workshopping the research papers.

Silent Auditors: Yes

05. Decolonizing German Studies Curricula

Conveners: Joela Jacobs, University of Arizona,

Janice McGregor, University of Arizona,

David Gramling, University of Arizona,

This seminar responds to decolonizing imperatives and builds on the “Diversity, Decolonialization, and German Studies” group’s efforts by asking how to decolonize, i.e. intentionally construct access points for non-privileged learners despite barriers inherent to German Studies curricula. In addition to classroom practices, lines of argumentation in research, and principles of diversity and difference in thematic coverage, we invite a self-critical and collective conversation regarding how we, for instance: recruit and advise undergraduate and graduate students, understand the goals and outcomes of our coursework and programs, dialogue about research methodology, format, and style, teach multilingually diverse language learners, construe program-level arcs of learning at PWIs, HSIs, HBCUs, and NASIs, engage in study abroad, and make space for “mentoring up” despite hierarchized relations. We hope to discuss how these efforts can challenge systems of oppression (e.g., white supremacy, patriarchy, raciolinguistics, ableism, nativism), which have historically shaped our habits of design.

Format: Participants will submit 3500-6000-word original contributions (e.g., essay, annotated syllabus, program self-study, methodological reflection, multilingual autoethnography, etc.) to be read by all before the conference. At the GSA, each participant will briefly present another participant’s contribution, so that the majority of the time can be spent in discussion.

Silent Auditors: No

06. (De)Constructing Identities through Mobilities

Conveners: Liesl Allingham, University of the South,

Stefanie Ohnesorg, University of Tennessee – Knoxville,

If, as Lash and Urry state, “modern society is a society on the move,” it becomes impossible to disentangle identities from mobility. Mobile practices construct and are constructed by a myriad of identity categories, such as race, gender, and sexuality, as well as by criteria ranging from national identity to the imaginary. This seminar aims to explore the (inter)relationships between mobilities and claimed, assigned, assumed, as well as denied identities within the German context. While, for example, mobile migrant workers might more or less be “tolerated,” discourses about refugees often revolve around notions like Heimat and belonging (vs. exclusion). We seek contributions from all disciplines and time periods that investigate how various forms of mobilities challenge ideologically constructed (national) identities and/or show how mobility itself can be employed to construct counter-identities that insist on being visible or weaponize invisibility.

Format: Participants will write and pre-circulate papers (1700-2000 words) and provide written feedback on two assigned papers prior to the conference. Participants will present their core arguments and respond to feedback; conveners will provide common readings and moderate discussion. The seminar will focus equally on individual papers and cross-disciplinary dialogue.

Silent Auditors: Yes

07. DH and German Studies: Intersections, Innovations, Opportunities (sponsored by the Digital Humanities Network)

Conveners: Anke Finger, University of Connecticut,

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.

Format: Pre-circulated readings provide concepts and methods for text analysis, network visualization, and mapping in DH. In blog posts, participants will share their own project ideas. These and other case studies will deepen and guide our discussions at the conference. Seminar days are divided into Theory, Practice, and Project Evaluation/Advocacy.

Silent Auditors: Yes

08. Doing Emotions in German Studies (sponsored by the Emotion Studies Network)

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

Format: Proposals from 1500-present will be accepted; we encourage inter-/multi-disciplinarity. 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.

Silent Auditors: Yes

09. The Duty of Art: Ethics and Empathy in Aesthetic Theory

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 hand, 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.

Format: The seminar is based on discussions and five-minute presentations. For preparation, theoretical texts from the fields of praxeology and empathy research will be provided. On this basis, participants will write papers (max. 20,000 characters incl. spaces) that will be precirculated four weeks before the conference.

Silent Auditors: Yes

10. Environments, Resources, and Power in German Central Europe

Conveners: Victoria Harms, Johns Hopkins University,

Adrian Mitter, University of Toronto,

This 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.

Format: Prior to the seminar, we will circulate relevant scholarly literature to be discussed during the seminar. Participants may present their current research projects in environmental history if they insist. In small groups, participants will discuss syllabi, research and teaching experiences and prepare modules for the joint online resource.

Silent Auditors: Yes

11. Family and Knowledge (sponsored by the Family and Kinship Network)

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.

Format: Participants will circulate 3-5-page (double-spaced) papers on their topics four weeks before the conference, which the conveners will use to group the papers over the three days, creating a mixture of disciplines and career stages on each day. Presenters may also suggest BRIEF passages of text or film clips for the seminar.

Silent Auditors: Yes

12. Football (soccer) in German-Speaking Europe: History, Politics and the Arts

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. This seminar will 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.

Format: The seminar will serve as a workshop for new football scholarship, resulting in a comprehensive anthology. Participants will exchange 300-word abstracts by April 1, 2019, papers of 3600-6000 words by August 1, and a 300-word response to one other participant by September 1.

Silent Auditors: Yes

13. German Politics in Popular Culture: Logics and Consequences of Transforming Political Institutions, Processes, and Actors into Entertainment

Conveners: Niko Switek, University of Washington,

Miriam Czichon, University of Bamberg,

Andreas Stuhlmann, University of Alberta,

Popular culture is all around us; it influences and shapes our thinking and opinions. Yet for Germany, in contrast to the United States, 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, television series), this seminar asks in which ways 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.

Format: The seminar aims at producing a special journal issue. Papers have to be submitted three weeks before the conference and are made available to all participants. The seminar is arranged in short presentations, comments from discussants, and an open discussion.

Silent Auditors: Yes

14. German-Speaking Women, Africa, and the African Diaspora

Conveners: Lisabeth Hock, Wayne State University,

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. Over the next 150 years, most women with the education and authority to produce accounts of Africa were white, although there were 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.

Format: In February, we will circulate three articles that all participants will read. August 20 is the deadline for 10-12-page papers, which all participants will read prior to the conference. In the seminar, participants will present their projects, and we will then workshop the papers in anticipation of an edited volume.

Silent Auditors: Yes

15. Global Cultural Histories

Conveners: Veronika Fuechtner, Dartmouth College,

David D. Kim, University of California Los Angeles,

The aim of this seminar is to examine the past, present, and future of cultural history with a special focus on recent scholarly debates on reconceptualizing this subject of investigation across cultural, disciplinary, linguistic, medial, and national borders. In light of rethought cultural histories on German-language literature and film (Wellbery; Kapczynski and Richardson), and the emerging interest in Global German Studies, the seminar solicits papers that read national, monolingual, or state-centric variations of cultural history against the grain. We aim for an eclectic set of case studies, which address questions of historiography, historical consciousness, translation, multilingualism, close or distant reading, the publishing industry, genre, periodization, canonization, motif, and literary theory. Papers could also delve into methodological and theoretical considerations of cultural history as a continuously transforming and increasingly transnational subject of investigation.

Format: Participants will propose one common reading for discussion three months before the conference. Two months before the conference, they will circulate a ten-page-long, double-spaced paper and begin reading the papers from fellow participants, as well as the three to four common readings.

Silent Auditors: Yes

16. Goethe as a Heterodox Thinker (sponsored by the Goethe Society of North America)

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.

Format: Each convener will provide a short reading by Goethe or from the philosophical tradition with a brief explanation of the selection. Each participant will write a short position paper on one of the readings (500-1000 words) to be distributed in advance. Each day of the seminar, one convener is responsible for moderating the discussion.

Silent Auditors: Yes

17. Identity in the "Post-Truth Era"

Conveners: Linda Leskau, Ruhr-University of Bochum,;

Tanja Nusser, University of Cincinnati,

In past years, the present has been described as a post-truth era, which has time and again been positioned as a legacy of postmodernity’s relativism and critical investigation of stable categories. At the same time, notions of identity and identity politics are currently deployed in different corners of the political spectrum, both polemically and pragmatically, and sometimes in an asserted postmodern lineage, with reference to performative paradigms. Against the backdrop of this multi-directional constellation, this seminar seeks to discuss which issues and/or possibilities arise for (minority) identities situated within a contested postmodern legacy and a post-truth present, which seems to question and forsake factuality in favor of a “perceived truth” and emotions, while at the same time forcefully re-establishing a thinking based on dichotomies. The seminar focuses on an intersectional approach toward the identity categories of gender, race, and disability within medial texts in German speaking countries.

Format: Participants will be asked to circulate works in progress (max. 20 pages) by September 1 and to prepare a ten-minute statement for the seminar, which will offer comments or questions for discussion. Additionally, we will circulate a reader with pivotal texts two weeks before the seminar in order to discuss them.

Silent Auditors: Yes

18. In and Out of the Classroom: Innovations in Teaching German History and Culture (sponsored by the Teaching Network)

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.

Format: Before the conference, participants will circulate assignments and syllabi for project-based and experiential/on-site learning. We will discuss and workshop these on day one and three of the seminar. On day two, participants will play a Reacting to the Past simulation requiring preparation of assigned roles in advance.

Silent Auditors: Yes

19. Interdisciplinary Community on Gender in History and German Studies

Conveners: Kara Ritzheimer, Oregon State University,

Aeleah Soine, Saint Mary’s College of California,

It has been over a decade since the authors of Gendering German History (2007) raised two questions: How has gender analysis impacted history writing? To what degree has gender analysis become “mainstream” or remained peripheral in German history, literary, and cultural studies? Over the past decade, historians and German Studies scholars have produced exciting and innovative research that suggests that gender is uniquely positioned, as a methodological approach, to facilitate interdisciplinary collaboration and research. This seminar will explore these questions, take stock of recent trends, and encourage ongoing interdisciplinary conversations and collaboration within the scope of the GSA. It invites participants to join in these interdisciplinary discussions and to share their own research. Following the interests of participants, topics may include, but are not limited to, recent scholarly trends toward transnational perspectives, age and life course, religiousity, sexuality, the body, citizenship, and the study of emotions.

Format: As an opening framework, the conveners will circulate common readings based upon participant suggestions. Participants will write, pre-circulate, and briefly present 5-6-page papers connecting their own work to the themes. Seminar participants will provide feedback. Time will be reserved to discuss our ongoing intellectual and professional goals for the GSA.

Silent Auditors: Yes

20. Kulturtechnik

Conveners: Gabriel Trop, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill,

Uwe Wirth, Justus-Liebig-Universität Giessen,

Bryan Norton, University of Pennsylvania,

The concept Kulturtechnik – usually translated as “cultural technology” – appears to be coming into its own after an incubation period of nearly three decades. Friedrich Kittler brought the term to prominence (although he never explicitly defined it) in his well-known Discourse Networks 1800/1900, opposing it to the concept of hermeneutics. It has since become the backbone of schools in Germany, as it has come to stand for the “Berlin School of Media Theory.” The guiding premise of this field of study is that cultural technologies are the key to reflection on culture and media, transforming cultural history into a technically circumscribed media history. This seminar will define and historically situate this concept by examining its origin in agricultural discourses that were transferred to writing, reading, and storage. It will then trace how cultural technologies evolved along with changing conceptions of the body, its organs, and its tools.

Format: The seminar requires a 1-2-page statement (ca. 500 words) about the readings as they relate to participants' research interests. Readings will be drawn from the ancient tradition, nineteenth-century agricultural and early technology-philosophical discourses, and from the Berlin School. Participants should send their statements to the conveners by September 15.

Silent Auditors: Yes

21. The Nations of Philology

Conveners: Jakob Norberg, Duke University,

Christophrer Busch, University of Luxembourg,

Till Dembeck, University of Luxembourg,

This 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.

Format: All papers (max. 4000 words) will be circulated four weeks before the conference. During the seminar, each participant will give an overview of another participant’s paper, followed by a discussion. Each day, participants will draw general conclusions in a final discussion.

Silent Auditors: Yes

22. The Nazi Legacy for Today’s America

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.”

Format: Participants will be asked to complete short (4-5 pages) papers by July 1 for circulation in advance of the seminar. The conveners will also assign readings, suggest discussion questions, and nominate discussion leaders from among the participants in order to structure the three themes of the seminar meetings.

Silent Auditors: Yes

23. Nietzsche and the Birth of Modernism

Conveners: Sharon Jordan, City University of New York,   

Benjamin Schluter, New York University,   

On the 175th anniversary of Friedrich Nietzsche’s birth, we seek to revalue the influence of the philosopher’s publications, not only within the fields of philosophy and literature, but especially in the visual and performing arts. To do this, we will pay special attention to the initial reception of Nietzsche’s corpus during early twentieth-century Modernism. While Nietzsche’s influence on the leading German writers of this time is well established, we aim to broaden our understanding by considering other aesthetic disciplines and media, especially the plastic arts, music, dance, and theater. Nietzsche’s polar notions of the Apollonian and Dionysian, as well as his broader lexicon of archetypes and topoi, will help construct a framework for analyzing the incorporation of his thought into various artistic practices of Modernism. Yet beyond reading the modernists as faithful heirs and popularizers of Nietzsche, we will also negotiate the ways they challenge, rework, and overcome his legacy.

Format: Each day will be devoted to a particular theme or set of related motifs in Nietzsche’s work and related milieu of art, literature, and philosophy. Selected texts will be distributed beforehand. Participants will sign up for ten-minute presentations that will serve as the impulse for discussion and analysis.

Silent Auditors: Yes

24. Reviewing German Film History from the Margins

Conveners: Tobias Ebbrecht-Hartmann, Hebrew University Jerusalem,

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 in order to review German filmmaking beyond an established cinema canon.

Format: Participants will distribute their 2000-word papers to all seminar members by August 1. Sessions will be organised according to sub-themes, film theoretical, and analytical approaches. Within thematic clusters, film excerpts from submitted papers will be discussed. Participants shall respond to papers of their assigned group and lead the discussion.

Silent Auditors: Yes

25. Revisiting Lustmord in the #MeToo Era (sponsored by the Visual Culture Network)

Conveners: Kristin Schroeder, University of Virginia,

Kathryn Holihan, University of Michigan,

Mary Hennessy, University of Michigan,  

Maria Tatar’s Lustmord (1995) called into question the ubiquity of the mutilated female body in Weimar’s artistic productions, exposing the centrality of sexual violence in modern culture. With Lustmord as a point of departure, this interdisciplinary seminar moves beyond Weimar, employing its imagery and texts as tools with which to consider the entanglements of sexual violence with power, gender, race, sexuality, religion, and class. Together, we will consider the representation — and even aestheticization — of sexual violence in German visual art, film, and literature, and history. Amidst a #MeToo culture of accountability, how can we expand upon formal, biographical, and psychological analyses to confront the political, educational, and cultural stakes of pervasive sexual violent imagery throughout history? This seminar is sponsored by the German Studies Association’s Visual Culture Network. Colleagues working with visual media are especially encouraged to apply.

Format: Participants will read reviews and selections of Lustmord and prepare and circulate a 1,000-1,500-word analysis of their case study in relation to the assigned readings. Time in the seminar will consist of group exploration and close reading.

Silent Auditors: Yes

26. "Special Languages": Linguistic Others and Social Order

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.

Format: Participants will be asked to circulate a 2,500-3,500-word paper creatively applying the topic of the seminar to their research or discipline by August 31. Participants will also be asked to read several short pre-circulated texts, and to offer a brief commentary on another participant’s paper.

Silent Auditors: Yes

27. States of Performance

Caroline Weist, University of Richmond,

Sara Jackson, University of Massachusetts Amherst,

Kathrin Bower, University of Richmond,

The performing arts, as well as strategies drawn from them, have been deployed for centuries in Germanic countries both to solidify and to challenge norms and ideals of nationality, gender, race, class, and the body – that is, to produce and to subvert normative identities, both political and personal. The list of cultural movements that have used performance theory and practice has both depth and breadth: medieval religious rites and practices, efforts to establish a German national identity in the eighteenth century, psychological experimentation in fin-de-siècle Ausdruckstanz, the Wilhelmine and Nazi hygienic programs, radical performance art in the style of Valie Export, contemporary satirical and comedic interventions into questions of belonging, and the list goes on. Informed by their short papers on specific instances of performance, participants will discuss how performance more broadly conceived is fundamental to the formation of both political states and states of being.

Format: By September 15, participants will submit abstracts and short papers (5-7 pages) that address the seminar topic through a specific instance of performance. By September 22, the submissions will be grouped into three clusters and pre-circulated with questions to guide participants’ reading. By October 4, participants will have read all the papers, with particular focus on their cluster.

Silent Auditors: Yes

28. Sustainability and German Studies: From Ecocriticism to Community Engagement (sponsored by the Environmental Studies Network and AATG)

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 Humanities. 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.

Format: Three months before the conference, participants will discuss selected texts in a blog contribution. One month prior, participants will circulate five-page papers or ten-minute presentations. During the conference, each day will include one panel of participant papers and one whole-group discussion session or workshop.

Silent Auditors: Yes

29. Teaching East German Culture: From the GDR to the Present

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.

Format: Participants will write 20-page papers due in late August 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.We expect all papers to be read before our first meeting so we can focus on in-depth discussions about the clarity, breadth, insight of each overview text; the effectiveness of the teaching exercises; similarities/differences across disciplines worthy of further development; etc.

Silent Auditors: Yes

30. Tourism and the Future of Holocaust Memory in Germany and Austria

Conveners: Daniel Reynolds, Grinnell College,

Doreen Pastor, University of Bristol,

As the last eyewitnesses to the Holocaust pass away, tourism's importance to the future of Holocaust memory is becoming increasingly conspicuous, for better and for worse. As a rapidly expanding form of remembrance, tourism to Holocaust memorials, museums, and sites of catastrophe is testing the limits of representation. In Germany, for instance, some memorial managers suggest that the current exhibition designs fail to engage visitors, necessitating new approaches. This seminar invites participants to share and debate the educational and more broadly societal impact of tourism to sites of Holocaust and Nazi remembrance. We welcome contributions that stem from humanities and social science disciplinary methods, including theoretical considerations, ethnographic studies, and other empirical analyses to develop a richer, more evidence-based analysis of tourism's place in remembering the Holocaust and the Nazi past more broadly.

Format: Seminar applicants should submit a 300-word abstract by January 26. Participants will be chosen by February 5, and will write and read pre-circulated papers of approximately 8-10 pages in August. The seminar leaders will assign a set of common readings shared on Google Drive.

Silent Auditors: No