Call for Participants
German Studies Association Seminar: German Travel: New Directions
September 29-October 2, 2016 in San Diego
The deadline for applications is *January 28, 2016.* For directions on enrolling in this seminar (you must be a current GSA member), visit the GSA webpage and the following link that details the submission process:
As per the GSA seminar selection committee: "Participation in a seminar involves intellectual work akin to preparing a paper and will thus count as such. All seminar participants will be listed by name in the program. If you are accepted to be an active participant in a seminar, you are not allowed to give a paper in panel sessions. However, you may moderate or comment on a panel.
Some individuals may choose to be a silent auditor to a seminar. Slots for auditors are limited; the enrollment process for interested auditors will only take place after the entire GSA program is set. When enrolling seminar applicants will be asked to submit a mini vita (no more than 1000 characters) and a statement of purpose (no more than 1000 characters) indicating why they intend to participate in this seminar, how their past or current research connects to the topic and what their focus will be in this seminar."
German Travel Writing: New Directions
Travel narratives have ranged from mythical tales going back as far as Homer’s Odyssey and adventure stories such as Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe to travel memoirs, expedition reports such as those by Alexander von Humboldt, guidebooks (Baedeker), and travel blogs. These texts have served an equally wide array of purposes, from providing entertainment and feeding (off) Abenteuerlust and Fernweh to shaping the popular conception of far-away regions and civilizations. As such, travel texts have always been intricately linked to author biography and the national imagination. Therefore, travel narratives tend to express as much about the conditions in the writer’s own home country as they tell about the destination of a particular journey.
As travel texts became a staple on the literary market, travel experiences in themselves can be seen to increasingly build on pre-formed notions of what there is to see and in turn shape and influence what others are to see. Travel writing, as well as other media forms such as the blog, travel reports in newspapers, the public presentation of travel images, geographic almanacs, and reports to geographic and scientific societies allow for readers’ engagement with the travel experience without actually having to travel at all (armchair travel). Travel narratives thus provide a rich tapestry of exchanges in terms of modalities of travel and sightseeing. Questions that can be addressed through travel literature (in its broadest sense) include the construction of the modern self, issues of gender and race and how these impact access to travel, and the modern construction of nation and national border through travel. Focusing on the particular travel destinations, especially culturally charged places such as Rome or Paris can yield insights into how destinations are constructed on the literary page. This can also lead to questions of canon formation, which, in turn leads to the issue of genre. Another set of questions relates to the influence of technology and social media inventions on the process of traveling as well as the reception of travel. Ultimately the seminar will address the question what German Studies can contribute to the history of travel as a cultural phenomenon in the German-speaking countries.
This seminar is a continuation of last year’s successful seminar “German Travel Writing from the 18th to the 21st Century.” We received a large number of applicants from history, literature, cultural studies, and art history to our seminar, which speaks to the continued interest travel holds for scholars. All members of this fall’s seminar expressed great interest in organizing a second seminar on the topic in order to bring together again the core group of scholars who work on travel writing and to include new scholars as well. After the 2016 GSA conference, we plan on developing a “network” with the core participants to extend our presence to future conferences, to continue our academic exploration of travel literature especially from a theoretical perspective, to explore the publication of an edited volume, and to offer younger scholars an academic forum in which to present their ideas.
Participants will write and pre-submit short (2500-3000) word essays related to one of the three topics. These essays will be distributed by email in advance and will form the basis of each day's discussion. Because the essays will have been distributed before the seminar, on the days of the seminar each participant is expected to briefly (5-10 minutes) highlight the main points of his/her paper, sketch the trajectory of his/her work, and summarize his/her theoretical frame. The rest of the seminar time will be spent on discussing the papers in connection to the respective theme of the seminar day.
The three days of the seminar will be structured thematically:
* Day One: Authenticity and reliability in travel writing (how are authenticity and reliability displayed, what are the text markers for authenticity and reliability, how do reliability and authenticity relate to issues of genre?)
* Day Two: Narrating travel (what are the narrative possibilities of travel literature, how are issues of non-linear narrative and chronology negotiated, what kind of narrative theoretical models are applicable to the study of travel literature?)
* Day Three: Genre (what implications have the various genres of travel narratives, such as travel report, travel diary, journal column on the text and its reception, how does genre influence the reception of the text and its usage by the reader; how have new media such as visual presentations, blogs etc. changed the perception of travel)
The conveners, Daniela Richter and Karin Baumgartner, will be responsible for collecting essays by email ahead of the conference and distributing them to the participants ca. 3 weeks ahead of the conference. We will share the duties of moderating each day's discussion. On the basis of our reading of the day's essays, we will formulate a short set of discussion questions to focus each morning's conversation that will be emailed before each session.
Based on last year’s discussion, we will ask participants to name a few (1-3) key theoretical texts on which their work is based. We will then collect these references and provide participants with a bibliography of the theoretical key texts of the field. Participants will not be required to have read these texts.
Feel free to contact the conveners with any questions:
Daniela Richter (richt2dm(at)cmich.edu)
Karin Baumgartner (karin.baumgartner(at)utah.edu)
Daniela Richter, Ph. D.
Associate Professor of German
Department of Foreign Languages, Literatures and Cultures
Central Michigan University
Mt.Pleasant, MI 48859
The German Studies Call for Papers List
Editor: Sean Franzel
Assistant Editor: Olaf Schmidt
Sponsored by the University of Missouri
Info available at: http://grs.missouri.edu/resources/gerlistserv.html