(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: