Enough is (Not) Enough: Excess in German Literature and Culture

The Department of Germanics at the University of Washington
May 6 and 7, 2011

Keynote Speaker: TBA

What role does excess play in a time of economic recession and ecological destruction? How is excess to be reconciled with calls for austerity and conservation? Given the scarcity of natural resources and the wastefulness of consumerism, indulging the very question of excess seems, well, excessive.

Yet, for Georges Bataille, excess is an inevitability, a fundamental human gesture to consume a surplus. Indeed, the question for Bataille is not whether to conserve or deplete, but rather how wealth is to be squandered. Instead of privileging conservation, production, and accumulation, he valorizes gift-giving, wasting, and expenditure as a means to restore generosity and level economic divisions. For Freud, beauty is excessive, a surplus that is unnecessary, but marks civilization as such.

Accordingly, this graduate student conference addresses the links between social and aesthetic excess and its manifestations in German culture. Here one thinks of Tristanís madness, Baroque splendor, Kantís obsessive repetitions, Fršulein von Sternheimís sentimentality, Kleistís violence, Stifterís minutiae, Kafkaís bureaucracies, Weimar decadence, Nazi atrocities, Bernhardís resentment, and Fassbinderís raunchiness. We invite proposals for papers that investigate the problems that arise from exceeding accepted physical, social, moral, aesthetic, economical, sexual, and rhetorical norms. Papers presented might include, but are not limited to, the following topics:

* Luxury, indulgence, waste
* Hoarding, accumulating, greed
* Deviant bodies, gluttony, addiction
* Transgressions, sins, breaches of decorum
* Obsessions and compulsions
* Repetition, boredom, tedium
* Exaggerations, verbosity
* Fragments, ruins, garbage
* Inflation, value, debt
* Hate, war, violence

Please send all abstracts (250-300 words) to [log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]> by February 11, 2011. Include a short biography (100 words) as well panel preferences (e.g., physical excess, etc.). Papers may be presented in German or English. Let know us know if you require assistance with accommodation.

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