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GERMAN-CFP-L  September 2013

GERMAN-CFP-L September 2013

Subject:

CFP: UO Graduate Student and Faculty German Studies Conference - What is a Thing? (February 20-21, 2014, Deadline: September 30, 2013)

From:

"Schmidt, Olaf" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

German Studies CFP Forum <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 19 Sep 2013 23:49:35 +0000

Content-Type:

text/plain

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text/plain (95 lines)

CALL FOR PAPERS: UNIVERSITY OF OREGON GRADUATE STUDENT AND FACULTY
GERMAN STUDIES CONFERENCE:  WHAT IS A THING? --  KEY RESPONSES IN MODERN
GERMAN LITERATURE AND THOUGHT

February 20th/21st, 2014, University of Oregon

Keynote Speaker: Jonathan Monroe (Cornell University)

“We look everywhere for the Absolute (das Unbedingte), and find only
Things (Dinge).”-Novalis, "Blütenstaub" (1798)

Although the question of what constitutes a Thing is an ancient one, it
is pressing today in a number of humanities fields: for example, in
literary studies, "material cultural studies" continue, and the broader
question of the historical contextualization of literature in a world of
things remains an important but multiply vexed one; in continental
philosophical work, "object-oriented philosophy" and other new
post-post-structuralist directions have arrived in search of new
non-Heideggerian models of referentiality; and in the real world global
crises of economy and environment, the human situation is raising with a
new urgency the question of our relationships to "things." Hence our
desire to pose here again the question, "What is a 'Thing'?" and to
invite papers that explore interpretively from today's perspective
various key responses to this question since the Romantic period. A
telegraphic summary of the most important of these--to give you a more
concrete sense of our topic--looks as follows.

With this quotation above from "Blütenstaub", Novalis implies that we
live in a disenchanted world in which meaning has become scarce, and he
questions whether or not this meaning can somehow be brought back (or
perhaps for the first time) into the world. Another Romantic, Eduard
Mörike (1804-1875), provides rich prose descriptions of Things in an
attempt to gain this meaning. This project is picked up by many
thinkers, not only Novalis’ contemporaries in Romanticism, but later on
as modernism begins to take shape. Perhaps this is most explicit in the
works of Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926), famous for his “Thing-Poems,”
in which the world of Things is made to speak. But this is also
ultimately the question in the works of Franz Kafka (1883-1924), with
his characters searching everywhere in broken and brutal communities,
without a hint of success: "For the street he was in, the main street of
the village, did not lead up to the Castle hill, it only made towards it
and then, as if deliberately, turned aside, and though it did not lead
away from the Castle it got no nearer to it either." With their
descriptions of the material world around them, the Realists, like
Theodor Fontane (1819-1888) and Thomas Mann (1875-1955), not only give
us a look inside a world of the past, they also provide social critiques
of a world in which Things have taken on the wrong kind of meaning and
superseded the value of the human being. On the philosophical end, there
is of course Karl Marx (1818-1883), who, in Capital, develops eerie
descriptions of the Things as commodities taking on a similar perverted
meaning, gaining a life of their own and turning on the very people who
made them. This aspect of Marx’s philosophy comes out of Hegel’s
phenomenology, a tradition that is later continued by thinkers like
Edmund Husserl (1859-1938), who announced the battle cry of
phenomenology, “To the Things themselves!” and described a process in
which one is able to set aside our common or “natural” way of seeing
Things, allowing them to “show themselves.” 

This conference thus turns around a question that is specific and currently 
pressing enough to be productive, yet broad enough to invite proposals 
from a variety of epochs, literary discourses, and philosophical orientations, 
including (but not limited to):

- Romanticism
- Realism
- Phenomenology
- Critical Theory
- Feminism
- Marxian Analysis
- Psychoanalysis
- Hermeneutics

Please submit abstracts of 250-300 words by SEPTEMBER 30TH, 2013 to
conference organizer Nicholas Reynolds, [log in to unmask] . Abstracts
must include a cover letter with the author’s name, paper title,
affiliation, telephone number and email address, and be in the form of
*.doc or *.docx files. Presentations are to last 20 minutes and must be
in either German or English. Submissions are accepted from graduate
students and from faculty. Submissions from all fields relevant to the
topic are welcome.

*******************************
Alexis B. Smith, German Studies GTF
Department of German and Scandinavian
1250 University of Oregon
Eugene, OR 97403
cell 541.740.8044  **  fax 541.346.4126
[log in to unmask]

*******************
The German Studies Call for Papers List
Editor: Stefani Engelstein
Assistant Editor:  Olaf Schmidt
Sponsored by the University of Missouri
Info available at: http://grs.missouri.edu/resources/gerlistserv.html

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