Call for submissions for an essay collection proposal on:



In the early 20th century, the body came to function as a site of contradictory cultural inscriptions with far-reaching consequences.  The “natural” and “liberated” bodies of cultural reformers stood opposed to the mechanized bodies of industrial workers; the steel bodies of athletes had their counterparts in the convulsive and disfigured bodies of nervous patients and wounded soldiers, etc.  Against this constellation of bodily semantics, various modern practices designed to inscribe meaning onto the body—e.g. gymnastics, competitive sports, reform dance, tableaux vivants, Wandern, nudism—opened up new domains for the performative production of identities.   


The new strategies of bodily inscription were also fundamentally dependent upon various media (literature, visual art, photography and film), whose representations and intermedial translations helped to structure the “web of meaning” (Clifford Geertz) characterizing body culture in the early 20th century. In this collection, we seek to examine how artistic representations contributed to the production of body cultural significations.  With their complex modes of ascribing meaning, aesthetic media not only reflected broader cultural codes for staging and interpreting modern bodies, but also helped to construct and transform those same codes. This encounter between aesthetics and body culture also entailed a self-reflexive process, in which art began to reexamine its own role vis-à-vis new cultural practices that were increasingly coming to structure the everyday lives of the masses.  In this sense, body culture formed part of a broader debate on the relation between art and modernity.


Focusing on the Weimar Republic, this essay collection will probe the new aesthetic constructions of the body and the complex cultural stakes they involved.


Please send one-page abstracts to Michael Cowan ([log in to unmask]) or Kai Sicks ([log in to unmask]).






Michael Cowan, M.A.
IFK Internationales Forschungszentrum Kulturwissenschaften
Reichsratsstraße 17
1010 Wien
Tel.: (+43-1) 504 11 26-35
Fax: (+43-1) 504 11 32
[log in to unmask]


******************* The German Studies Call for Papers List Editor: Stefani Engelstein Assistant Editor: Karen Eng Sponsored by the University of Missouri Info available at: