Call for Papers


38th Convention, Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA)

March 1-4, 2007

Baltimore, Maryland

Deadline:  September 15, 2006
Panel: A Global Sense of Place? Travel and Homelessness in the Age of Globalization

In the 1990s an ever growing feeling of homelessness can be perceived among German authors and in particular among the younger generation. In their respective books writers such as Christian Kracht or Judith Hermann depict the nomadic existence of their protagonists who are constantly on the move in an attempt to travel the world and to explore the unfamiliar. Thus, their existence is characterized by a striking restlessness, by an urge to forge ahead without a specific goal or destination in mind, driven solely by a strong unwillingness to settle down and commit to a place. Despite an alleged claim to search for a Heimat – a place of comfort and belonging – their transient lifestyle, their uprooted-ness seems to defy this postulation, indicating, on the contrary, a rather ‘global’ lifestyle and a transformation into ‘global citizens’.  

As Rüdiger Safranski states in his book How Much Globalization Can We Bear? it is particularly the Germans who enthusiastically embrace the growing importance of globalization. In an attempt to leave the atrocities of a rather horrendous past behind Germans are exceptionally open to traveling the world and are becoming more mobile. Yet, as Safranski continues, it is also the Germans who harbor a particularly strong fondness for their homeland or Heimat, an immense attachment to customs and traditions, family and relatives that seems impossible to reconcile with their excessive Wanderlust. However, in a world where distances are constantly shrinking due to more rapid means of transportation and communication and overall media coverage, differences between home and abroad might become fewer and fewer, thus allowing for a changing perception of these two entities, summarized in the term of the glocal. The question arises whether a transient lifestyle is characteristic of a new German identity formation, of a new understanding of the so dearly cherished idea of Heimat which is being replaced by a deliberately chosen state of homelessness. Hence, is it possible for the Germans, so eager to become global citizens, to leave their origins behind in an attempt to live in the global, whatever that might entail? 

This panel wants to explore the alleged feeling of homelessness prevalent in recent German literature, in particular of the younger generation, in connection to the ever growing impact globalization has on the German nation. Thus, the question arises whether homelessness is indicative of change occurring in the perception of the German idea of Heimat – a concept so dearly cherished by Germans throughout the ages – or of a change in the formation of German identity.   

Please submit a one page abstract (300 words) as a Microsoft Word document by September 15, 2006 to Gabriele Eichmanns, [log in to unmask] or send by snail mail to University of Washington, Department of Germanics, 340-C Denny, Box 353130, Seattle, WA 98195-3130. 

Besides the abstract, a proposal must include the following:

Presenter's name and institutional affiliation
Email address
Postal address
Telephone number
A/V requirements (if any)


For the complete Call for Papers for the 2007 NeMLA Convention, please visit Interested participants may submit abstracts to more than one NeMLA panel; however, each panelist can only present one paper at the convention (although convention participants may present a regular scholarly paper and also present at a creative session or participate in a roundtable).



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