University of London School of Advanced Study
At the Institute of Germanic & Romance Studies

The Nameable and the Unnameable
Hofmannsthal's Der Schwierige in Context

An International Conference at the University of London

Co-Ordinators: Dr Martin Liebscher (IGRS, University of London) and Dr 
Christophe Fricker (Duke University)

Thursday, 22 - Friday, 23 May 2008


On the occasion of the publication of a new translation of Hugo von 
Hofmannsthal's play Der Schwierige, this conference intends to reopen the 
discussion on language and modernity in Hofmannsthal's work. Der Schwierige 
marks Hofmannsthal's attempt to both depict and overcome the language 
crisis he himself recognized in the 'Letter' to Lord Chandos. Written 
between 1909 and 1920, the play reflects Hofmannsthal's experience of the 
atrocities of war, unnameable but constantly present behind the chatter in 
the Viennese salons. This shallow surface provides an insufficient cover 
for the numinous character of the existential crisis suffered by an 
individual faced with nothing less than the twilight of mankind.
The concept of language-crisis is worth re-examining: recent scholarship 
has come to define it in broader epistemological terms, and attempts to 
proclaim a post-hermeneutical era have failed. Focusing on Der Schwierige, 
this conference proposes looking at the relationship between poetological 
and poetic texts, and should shed new light on Hofmannsthal's contribution 
to literary modernity and its aftermath, on the position of Der Schwierige 
in his work, and on the play as Hofmannsthal's reaction to war and the 
downfall of the Habsburg Empire.

Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

"	Hofmannsthal and the language crisis of modernity in relation to Der 
"	The numinous in Hofmannsthal's texts and in particular in Der Schwierige
"	Der Schwierige and Hofmannsthal's return to the classical tradition
"	Translating Hofmannsthal
"	Hoffmannsthal and the war in the light of Der Schwierige
"	Der Schwierige in the context of Hofmannsthal's work
"	Meaningful silence vs hollow phrases

Please send proposals (no longer than 300 words) and a short cv (no longer 
than 1 page) to BOTH Martin Liebscher [log in to unmask] and 
Christophe Fricker [log in to unmask] by 31 July 2007.

University of London School of Advanced Study
Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU
Telephone: +44 (0)20-7862 8966 Fax: +44 (0)20-7862 8970
E-mail: [log in to unmask]

Christophe Fricker, D.Phil (Oxon)
Duke University
Dept of Germanic Languages and Literature
Box 90256
Durham, NC 27708

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