(Trans)literation: Exploring Borders and Boundaries through Literature and Film

Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages, Vanderbilt University

Graduate Conference

March 18-19, 2011

Keynote speaker: Barbara Wahlster, author and journalist

Visiting Professor in the Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages, Vanderbilt University

Ancient Rome pushes north.  The Great Vowel Shift alters European languages.  The borders of the Holy Roman Empire melt into the past and the modern nation-state comes forward.  Alsace changes hands. The reinstatement of the Oder-Neiße Line creates a new group of exiles.  The Habsburg Empire rises and falls, Austria is annexed, Switzerland preserves its neutrality.

The history of the German-speaking world – and its neighbors – is also one inextricably bound to the question of borders and their definitions.  These borders create, divide, or redraw political unity and individual identity; they affirm or reject linguistic, ethnic, cultural, and religious diversity within geographical and political boundaries.  They function to define and separate, delineate and contain, to exclude and include. 

German Studies as a discipline exists because of borders, yet the very phenomenon of borders lends itself to questions of transversing these borders.  Political events of a national scale occur on an international stage: Amid controversy, Germany accepts 50 Iranian asylum seekers.  Arizona passes a law requiring police to check on illegal status; France bans headscarves. Switzerland votes on whether third-generation immigrants can become citizens.

Everywhere the modern thinker turns, borders and boundaries both become visible and offer the challenge of being transcended.  These boundaries occur on international, national, communal, and individual scales, and provide the opportunity for reflection on what it means to think, live, and write between boundaries. 

Topics could include, but are not limited to:

borders / boundaries: gender / race / nation

departure / arrival

communities / individuals

gender / race / class

nostalgia / humor / satire

flight / exile

language / translation / writing

memory / (re)writing history

autobiography / fiction

multi-cultural, bi-cultural, hybrid

defining the other


Possible authors/directors for consideration include, but are not limited to:

Fatih Akin

Thomas Bernhard

Doris Dörrie

Eva Hoffmann

Elfriede Jelinek

Jhumpa Lahiri

Libuse Monikova

Herta Müller

Emine Sevgi Özdamar

W. G. Sebald

Feridun Zaimoglu

We welcome submissions from all disciplines.  Please send a 300-word abstract (in .doc or .pdf format), along with your name, university affiliation, and contact information, to [log in to unmask] by November 1, 2010. 


******************* The German Studies Call for Papers List Editor: Stefani Engelstein Acting Assistant Editor: Olaf Schmidt Sponsored by the University of Missouri Info available at: http://grs.missouri.edu/resources/gerlistserv.html