This panel seeks to outline narratives within a vital body-mind-conflict in current German culture (literature, film, theory etc.), and discuss possible links to identity formation. The panel will be held during the 2016 NeMLA Convention in Hartford, CT (March 17-20).
"Finsterworld," a screenplay and film by Frauke Finsterwalder and Christian Kracht, describes a Germanness that is defined by such a body-mind dichotomy: A pedicurist develops a foot fetish, a cop seeks for physical interaction dressed as a furry, and a history teacher tries to make his students connect with a disembodied notion of the German guilt. The film and the book criticize the modern society’s twisted or detached relation between body and mind as expressions of Germanness.
When we read, watch a movie, or write, we do not only forget the letters, ink, and paper, we also abandon our body in order to create narratives of the world and ourselves. In ”Die Wahrheit der technischen Welt” (2013) the German media philosopher Friedrich Kittler claims that echoes, doppelganger-figures, voices of the unconscious etc. make the reader/spectator suppress his own and the text’s “physical” conditions. “Der Buchstabe wurde übersprungen, das Buch vergessen, bis irgendwo zwischen den Zeilen eine Halluzination erschien – das reine Signifikat der Druckzeichen.” According to Kittler the Geist can only come into existence once its media are overcome. Further, the mind-body-dichotomy is historically connected with the discourses of surface vs. depth and high vs. low. The narrative of depth does not only have a deep impact on every day language and culture. One example is that we should get to know another person’s character rather than focus on the superficial appearance. It seems to be ontologically linked with cultural discourses. In negative reviews of contemporary German literature or film, for instance, one often reads that the characters lack depth. Instead they are perceived as one-dimensional, and the story as not complex enough, which refers back to the dualism superficial vs. deep. These discourses seem to have a crucial function for the German self-understanding and are connected with identity constructions that we would like to explore on our panel.
Questions and topics the presentations may include, but are not limited to, are the following:
What function do body and mind have in current German literature, film and philosophy? How are they narrated and ultimately evaluated? How do the aftermaths of modernity, e.g. loss of identity and of a holistic worldview still influence current German culture? Are there parallels or differences between German and American identity narratives? How does the German preference of the mind over the body manifest itself in culture? Why is it that the German metaphysical drive is still so substantial to current cultural discourses? Please submit proposals (up to 300 words) under the following web address: http://www.cfplist.com//nemla/Home/S/15671 by September 30, 2015. For further information, contact Dr. Stefan Bronner ([log in to unmask]) and Dr. Yvonne Franke ([log in to unmask]). The deadline for submissions is September 30, 2015.
The German Studies Call for Papers List
Editor: Stefani Engelstein
Assistant Editor: Olaf Schmidt
Sponsored by the University of Missouri
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