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>From:         Jane Lewin <[log in to unmask]>
>Subject: CFP: Alfred Döblin Conference (London: 21-22 March  2007)
>
>Alfred Döblin (1878-1957): Beyond the Alexanderplatz
>
>A Conference at the
>INSTITUTE OF GERMANIC & ROMANCE STUDIES
>School of Advanced Study, University of London
>
>21 - 22 March 2007
>
>
>Confirmed keynote speakers: David Midgley 
>(Cambridge), Helmuth Kiesel (Heidelberg)
>
>
>Call for Papers
>
>Alfred Döblin is one of the most famous, 
>imaginative and prolific German authors of the 
>first half of the twentieth century, and one of 
>the most challenging. His place in the literary 
>canon is assured by Berlin Alexanderplatz, 
>itself a dense composite of wide-ranging 
>allusions and technical innovation, but to base 
>his fame on Alexanderplatz alone does little 
>justice to his significance as a literary figure 
>or to his work as a whole. His works engage with 
>the decisive experiences of a turbulent era: the 
>Kaiserreich, the First World War, Weimar 
>politics and culture, and the problems of exile 
>and return. His themes are the major themes of 
>his times: war and revolution, technological 
>progress, authority, the city, travel, 
>dislocation, mythology, German-Jewish identity. 
>He was at the forefront of literary innovation 
>in the Weimar Republic: Die drei Sprünge des 
>Wang-lun, published in 1915, was a landmark in 
>Expressionist fiction. Most famously, his theory 
>of epic in the novel anticipated and influenced 
>the theatrical principles of Brecht. Although 
>left-leaning politically, he stood at the centre 
>of a remarkably broad network of Weimar authors, 
>notably through his membership of the Literary 
>Section of the Prussian Academy of Arts.
>
>Interest in Döblin arises as much from his 
>complexity as from his importance. In common 
>with many avant-garde writers, his relationship 
>with tradition was contradictory: a strong 
>desire to conform counterbalanced his position 
>as a trendsetter. On the one hand he introduced 
>a global dimension into German literature with 
>works set in China, India, Babylon and South 
>America; on the other hand he wrote about 
>Berlin, and about two of the major traumas of 
>German history, the 1918 Revolutions and the 
>Thirty Years War. Personally he struggled to 
>find a settled political position in the Weimar 
>years; his attitude towards his Judaism was 
>ambiguous. He was intensely ambitious to gain an 
>established place in tradition: on close 
>inspection, his novels are not such arbitrary 
>and accidental constructs as his theory might 
>sometimes suggest, but complex realisations of 
>his underlying conception of epic fiction, and 
>no less deliberately structured than the Realist 
>texts he claimed to oppose.
>
>The popular reception of Döblin and his works 
>during his lifetime and since has arguably not 
>lived up to their importance. Many know (or know 
>of) Berlin Alexanderplatz; few could name 
>another of his texts. In academic circles, work 
>on Döblin, although substantial, has lagged 
>behind that on other Weimar 'greats', such as 
>Thomas Mann, Brecht, Robert Musil and Joseph 
>Roth. Fifty years after his death, this 
>international conference aims to bring together 
>a broad range of perspectives on Döblin's 
>writings and to provide a showcase for new 
>research on them.
>
>We invite contributions in English or German on 
>all aspects of Döblin's work, including, but not 
>limited to, the following themes:
>
>Döblin's texts: what accounts for Döblin's 
>prominence on the one hand, but the relative 
>obscurity of many of his works on the other? 
>What makes his works worth reading; do they 
>possess qualities beyond literary-historical 
>interest?
>Döblin's works: can we speak of a coherent 
>oeuvre in Döblin's case? Are there particular 
>areas of that oeuvre which have been neglected 
>in the past; are there new approaches which 
>might profitably be taken to his work?
>Döblin and the avant-garde: in what sense(s) is 
>Döblin's work modern? Does it represent the 
>literature of its day, or - as 'Döblinismus' - 
>stand alone?
>Döblin and tradition: how did Döblin's writings 
>both set new trends and tap into traditions and 
>history?
>Döblin and the city: how is the urban experience 
>reflected in Berlin Alexanderplatz and other 
>texts?
>Döblin and others: what contacts and 
>relationships did he have with contemporary 
>authors and institutions?
>Döblin the man: can we speak of a man, or 
>author, with a number of different identities or 
>voices (such as his pseudonym, 'Linke Poot')? 
>What place is there for the many personal 
>traumas of his life in interpreting his literary 
>texts?
>Dr Döblin: what was the impact of Döblin's psychiatry on his writing?
>Döblin on literature: what was the impact of the 
>theoretical writings? Did the practice of his 
>writing meet his theoretical demands?
>Döblin and politics: What is his significance as 
>a commentator on contemporary culture?
>Döblin and metaphysics: How are we to assess his 
>contributions to philosophy and to comparative 
>religion?
>Reception and influence: can Döblin be described 
>as a controller of his own reception? Günter 
>Grass described him as his 'teacher'; has he 
>also influenced other modern authors?
>
>Please email abstracts of no more than 300 words 
>for papers of 30 minutes to reach both 
>conference organisers by 31st August 2006:
>
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>
>Abstracts may also be sent by post to Jane Lewin 
>(Döblin Conference), at the address below.
>
>INSTITUTE OF GERMANIC & ROMANCE STUDIES
>University of London School of Advanced Study
>Room ST282, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU
>Telephone: +44 (0)20-7862 8966 Fax: +44 (0)20-7862 8970
>E-mail: jane.lewin @sas.ac.uk
>Website: <http://igrs.sas.ac.uk>http://igrs.sas.ac.uk

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