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Call for Papers: 

A QUIET POWERFUL PRESENCE 
Multidisciplinary Approaches to the Role of Silence in and beyond
Literature, Art and Film 

German Graduate Student Conference 
March 30th, 2012 

Rutgers, The State University of NJ 


The concept of silence, whether it is examined in a linguistic or a literary
context, has a tradition of being defined negatively, as the absence of
speech or sound in general, as a breakdown of communication or a
conversation coming to an end. When it comes to everyday life, being very
quiet is often regarded as a sign of shyness, reservation and detachment. In
literature, silence is often lurking between the lines or hiding behind
punctuation marks, such as ellipses or the famous Kleistian
"Gedankenstrich", leaving a space to be filled. 

However, a lot can be said when nothing is being said, and the goal of our
conference is to treat the notion of silence as a presence rather than an
absence. It quietly opens up a space for interpretation in literary works,
speaks to us in the form of a work of art or through a performance and draws
attention to gesture, mimicry and body language in the medium of film, as
well as everyday communication. Moreover, it can gain a powerful presence in
the form of prayer, meditation, or moments of silence to mourn, remember and
honor those we have lost. 

Where do we find pauses and breaks in literature and how do we fill them
with our interpretations? How is silence both represented as well as
representative in literary works? In which way do the performing and fine
arts employ silence as a mode of expression? How do we express ourselves
when we are not speaking? Which channels are activated in nonverbal and
nonvocal communication? How is silence perceived and valued in different
cultures, faiths and political and social systems? 

Due to the nature of this conference topic, we encourage scholarship from
all areas concerned with the phenomena of silence and speechlessness, such
as German as well as other Modern Languages and Comparative Literature,
Jewish Studies, Theological Studies, Philosophy, Psychology, Art History,
Film Studies, Gender Studies, Linguistics, and History. 

Topics could include but are not limited to: 

- silences, breaks and pauses in literary texts 
- gesture, body language and sign language 
- silence as an expression of trauma 
- use of interior monologues and free indirect speech in literary works 
- visual connotations of silence in film and visual arts 
- nonverbal and nonvocal communication 
- silent protest vs. silent consent 
- social conventions prescribing silence vs. those prescribing verbal and
vocal communication 
- written communication 
- the role of miscommunication in modern society 

Please send your 250-300 word abstracts to Veronika Jeltsch and Sascha
Hosters at [log in to unmask] by January 8th, 2012. 

Include your text as an attachment and in the body of the e-mail. Please
feel free to address any other questions to the e-mail address mentioned
above. 

 

 


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