Call for Papers
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Seminar: Reading Benjamin Reading

ACLA Vancouver 
Deadline: 11/1/10
Conference: 3/31/11-4/3/11

In 1927, exactly one hundred years after Goethe first used the term “Weltliteratur,” Walter Benjamin returned to Berlin from Moscow. He had spent his time there reporting on developments in Russian literature and film, and he arrived to find that his German translation of Marcel Proust’s Within a Budding Grove had been published to strong reviews. Such multi-lingual and multi-national literary undertakings are central to Benjamin’s entire corpus. While not a major figure in most narratives of world literature, Benjamin’s involvement and theoretical interest in questions of translation, media, and cultural history suggest ways of placing him in these important contexts. But how do we read Benjamin’s own reading? 

This seminar invites papers on Benjamin’s own voracious reading and critical commentary, from major essays like “Unpacking My Library” to casual evidence of his reading preferences, such as the mention of William Faulkner’s Light In August in one of Benjamin’s final letters to Theodor Adorno. 

Possible topics may include:

Benjamin’s book reviews
Benjamin’s theory and practice of translation
The Arcades Project and world literature
German Men and Women and literary history
Quotation, appropriation, appreciation
Reading Benjamin’s own reading list (in the Gesammelte Schriften)
High/low reading preferences
Benjamin and “booklike creations from fringe areas”
Benjamin and international crime fiction
Cinema as universal/transnational language
Speculative Benjaminian readings
Benjamin and Goethe/Proust/Brecht/Gide/Baudelaire
World literature and “the trace”
World literature and the literary flâneur

Please submit 250-word abstracts through the ACLA conference website:

Brooks E. Hefner
Assistant Professor of English
James Madison University

The German Studies Call for Papers List
Editor: Stefani Engelstein
Assistant Editor:  Olaf Schmidt
Sponsored by the University of Missouri
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