"Between Future and Fatality:
Utopian and Dystopian Ideas in German Literature, Film, and Culture."

The German Graduate Student Governance Association of the University of
and the editors of the graduate student journal Focus on German Studies
present the Eleventh Annual Focus Graduate Student Conference 
held on October 27-28, 2006 at the University of Cincinnati 

Keynote speaker to be announced soon

Modern societies are based on the premise that the tomorrow is
predictable. Humanity has excelled in constructing high-tech computers,
in changing genetic information, in mastering diseases and going into
space. However, the prediction of the future, the old fantasy of
overcoming the barrier of time is still a thorn in the flesh of the homo
technicus. Human beings yearn to know how the world will be tomorrow and
also how the course of the world could be changed.

Literature and film have always served as media for drawing up an
imaginary future. Be it as a harbinger of dark apocalyptic visions or as
the beacon of a paradisiacal and ideal world. This conference seeks to
explore any kind of utopian and/or dystopian thinking in German culture.
We invite not only traditional scholarly works in the field of German
Studies but also interdisciplinary responses focusing on literature,
film, theory, philosophy, ethics, history linked to Germany.

What kinds of representations of dystopian / utopian ideas exist? What
genre is chosen and why?  What techniques do the authors choose to
portray these representations? In what way can these works be linked to
the period in which they originated? To what extent did the authors’
prophetic power influence and change the society they lived in? Or are
such works often escapist rather than ambitiously intent on change? Are
these works rebellious towards their time or do they rather affirm it?
Is there a specific German tone in such works that sets them apart from
other utopian / dystopian traditions (e.g. as opposed to the vast amount
of such works in English). To what extent do such works exert political
power and therefore possibly transcend their status as mere cultural
products? Are these dystopian utopian visions reflections of real
historical conditions projected onto the level of fantasy or fantasy
made similar enough to reality to create narrative interest?
We invite graduate students from all disciplines to submit paper
proposals responding to these or similar questions related to the
depiction of utopian and dystopian concepts in modern or pre-modern time
periods. Possible topics include, but are by no means limited to:
·       “Traditional” utopian and dystopian texts 
·       Philosophical texts attempting to construct a future world
·       Texts and films attempting to reconstruct imaginary historic
settings (e.g. Chr. Wolf’s Kein Ort. Nirgends etc…)
·       War literature, Cold War literature
·       Science fiction literature and films
·       Fairy tales
·       Apocalyptic literature
·       Social utopias in art and architecture
·       Holocaust literature / Blut-und-Boden literature
·       Romantic literature („Golden Age“ vs. “Nachtseitiges”)
·       Weimarer Klassik (the construction of a harmonious society)
·       Utopian courtly societies in medieval literature
·       Allegorical thinking in the literature of the Baroque
·       Films referring to utopian / dystopian ideas
·       Escapist literature
·       Political literature
·       GDR literature
·       Exile literature         

Revised conference papers can also be submitted for publication in our
Focus on German Studies journal.
Information on the keynote speaker will be announced soon. Please send
an abstract of 250-300 words in either English or German as Word
attachment by August 31, 2006 to Wolfgang Lückel and Todd Heidt at
[log in to unmask] (ATTN: Focus on GS Conference). On a separate
cover sheet please list the proposed paper title, author’s name,
affiliation, and e-mail address. Conference participants have the option
of housing with UC graduate students.
University of Cincinnati, German Studies Department 
733 Old Chemistry Building, Cincinnati, OH 45221-0372 
Phone: 513-556-2752, Fax: 513-556-1991
Laura Tráser-Vas, Editor-in-chief
Todd Heidt and Wolfgang Lueckel, Book Review Editors
Focus on German Studies
University Of Cincinnati ML 0372
Cincinnati, OH  45221-0372 USA
Phone (513) 556-2752  
Fax (513) 556-1991
[log in to unmask]

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