UPDATE: Guilt and Shame (Bremen) (10/31/05; 4/28-30/06)

Reply-To:     Helmut Schmitz <[log in to unmask]>

From:         Helmut Schmitz <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: CfP Guilt and Shame, new dates

Dear Colleagues
due to unforeseen problems with booking the conference 'Guilt and Shame. Ritual Forms of Dealing with Deviant Behaviour' announced for May 5-7, 2006 will have to be rescheduled to April 28-30. Renewed call for papers below
Guilt and Shame
Ritual Forms of Dealing with Deviant Behaviour
From Aias to Abu Ghraib
International Conference in Bremen (Germany), 28-30 April 2006
as part of the project
National Identities and European Myths
Call for Papers
In a state of rage, Aias, the outstanding Greek hero at Troy slaughters a herd of cattle which he mistakes for his enemy. When he comes to his senses, he falls onto his sword, full of shame about this loss of honour. The unheroic deed, committed in madness, as well as the loss of face, can be removed only by a dignified death.
 Causes and modes of reaction may have changed, but the feeling of shame is still of existential and individual importance and replete of public symbolism. According to Giorgio Agamben, '[i]n shame, the subject thus has no other content than its own desubjectification; it becomes witness to its own disorder, its own oblivion as a subject'.
Aias's ritual suicide corresponds today to the withdrawal from political office, the offer of resignation or the admission of impropriety, staged by and for the media. There still appears to be a strong collective need for this kind of ritualised act of exculpation. The function of sacrifice remains the same, despite the changes.
The conference will look at the following aspects of the phenomena of guilt and shame:
· Figures
· Discourses of Coming to Terms
· Rituals
· Mythical narratives
· Conventions
· Staging of humiliation and shaming
· Attribution of guilt
Mythical figures like Aias, Oedipus or Penthesilea illustrate the spectrum of personal representations of feelings of guilt and shame, a spectrum which reaches to literary characters like Franz Kafka's K. of whom it is said that 'it was as if his shame was to survive him'. Historically, the line reaches from Greek antiquity 'without conscience' (Hegel) to the 'shameless' present; from a systematic perspective the different cultures confront each other in their definitions and compensations of deviant behaviour: from pagan Greece via Christian Europe to Islam. In the 20th century, discourses of coming to terms determine public confrontation with the history of colonialism, with questions of war guilt or genocide. Cultural, national, historical as well as gender differences determine the rituals which structure reactions to deviant behaviour: in verbal apologies, public and private behaviour, dress codes, body language, by calculated normative adjustments to masculinity and femininity. These differentiations are reflected in mythical narratives just as in everyday conventions.
Rituals and discourses of shame serve to regulate deviant behaviour in one's own society or to justify it before the self. On the other hand, attribution of guilt and purposeful shaming of the other, function as instruments of power, as, for example during the European witch-hunts or in the photographs from Abu Ghraib, are used as.
The conference is planned as a collaboration between five European Universities:
Bremen (Fachbereich Sprach- und Literaturwissenschaften; Institut für kulturwissenschaftliech Deutschlandstudien) / Prof. Dr. Heinz-Peter Preußer
Ferrara (Dipartimento di Scienze Umane) / Prof. Dr. Matteo Galli
Leiden (Faculteit der Letteren; Zentrum für Sprache und Identität, CTI) /
Prof. Dr. Anthonya Visser
Liège/Lüttich (Philosophie et Lettres, Département Germaniques) / Prof. Dr. Alexandra Pontzen
Warwick (Dept of German Studies) / Dr. Helmut Schmitz
(Internationaler Arbeitskreis Literatur und Politik in Deutschland e.V.).
We are looking for contributions from the disciplines of Literary and Cultural Studies, Classics and Classical Philology, Anthropology, Philosophy, Media Studies, History, Art History, Political Science, Sociology and Theology, as well as related disciplines. Contributions can be in German as well as in English. Please send an abstract of 300 words max to all five email addresses below by 31 October 2005. Replies will be sent out by 30 November 2005.
A publication in the series 'Jahrbuch Literatur und Politik' with Universitätsverlag Winter (Heidelberg) is planned.
Prof. Dr. Heinz-Peter Preußer    [log in to unmask]
Prof. Dr. Matteo Galli    
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Prof. Dr. Anthonya Visser   
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Prof. Dr. Alexandra Pontzen    
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Dr. Helmut Schmitz    
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Dr Helmut Schmitz
Dept of German Studies
University of Warwick
Coventry CV4 7AL
Tel: 024/76 572524
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Zuletzt erschienen:
On Their Own Terms.
The Legacy of National Socialism in Post-1990 German Fiction
Birmingham University Press 2004
Book orders not via BUP but through
Central Books Ltd, 99 Wallis Road, London , E9 5LN
Tel 44 (0)845 458 9911
Fax 44(0)845 458 9912
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