Call for Papers
Envisioning Social Justice in Twenty-First Century German Culture
The world has changed drastically in the past two decades. Major shifts in the power alignments of various nations have taken place, accompanied by the globalization of capital, new demographics in the West with aging societies and patchwork families, environmental destruction, and acts of terrorism, genocide, and war. Scholars and journalists have been attempting recently to describe these developments. In Die Beste aller Welten. Wohin bewegt sich die Gesellschaft im 21. Jahrhundert? (2003), Gerhard Schulze discusses the benefits and dangers of the “escalation of demand” in consumption, production, and technology, which has increased steadily since the nineteenth century, leading to a higher standard of living for many people, but also great socio-economic inequalities and the exploitation of our natural environment. He builds on his influential study Die Erlebnisgesellschaft (1992), in which he had questioned the present-day Western obsession with life as an “Erlebnisprojekt.” Peter Hahne, in his bestselling treatise Schluss mit lustig. Das Ende der Spaßgesellschaft (2004), maintains that Europe is a culturally unified geographical region based on Christian values, posing questions such as: What holds Europe together? What values are worth striving for? What will we pass on to our children and grandchildren? By contrast, in Weltrisikogesellschaft. Auf der Suche nach der verlorenen Sicherheit (2007) Ulrich Beck argues more broadly for describing our world today as a “society at risk,” highlighting, for example, environmental concerns and the role of the global financial system. How have individuals or groups from German-speaking countries responded creatively to any of these crises or debates in their imaginative works?
We would like to explore in an anthology how German-speaking cultural representatives are grappling currently with these and related issues. We welcome submissions that address how German-speaking filmmakers, writers, playwrights, composers, musicians, as well as visual and performance artists are negotiating existential and ethical issues in their works. What topics of social justice are prominent and what narrative devices, images, performance techniques, and genres are used to convey them? These devices may be meant to appeal to a popular audience seeking “entertainment” and/or be more cryptic, for example, hidden in satirical, grotesque, dystopian, or apocalyptic modes of representation. How is German society portrayed? Is writing about East Germany and the process of unification replaced by new topics that address Germany as a whole and are there generational differences in such texts? How do immigrants address the question of values worth striving for and the attainment of “belonging” in German society and a globalized world? We seek contributions that take a critical and theoretical look at twenty-first century works that feature what has been called the “ethical turn” in German-speaking countries.
Two-page abstracts (approx. 500 words) are due by May 15 to both co-editors:
Axel Hildebrandt, Moravian College, [log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>
Jill Twark, East Carolina University, [log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>
If the abstract is accepted, the approximately 20-page article will be due on January 15, 2013.
The German Studies Call for Papers List
Editor: Stefani Engelstein
Assistant Editor: Olaf Schmidt
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