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Büchner Today / Büchner Heute
An International Conference

Venue: Institute of Germanic & Romance Studies, University of London
Thursday, 14 November – Friday, 15 November 2013

Georg Büchner was not only a writer who lived his political convictions under conditions which made it extremely difficult and dangerous to do so, but in his aesthetics, his thinking, and his interdisciplinary practice he was also – almost uncannily – ahead of his time. Thus, with reference to Büchner, Adorno comments in his Ästhetische Theorie: ‘[Werke] können durch geschichtliche Entfaltung, durch correspondance mit Späterem sich aktualisieren’ [‘Works can be actualized through historical development, through correspondence with later developments’]. It is in this spirit that we aim to mark Büchner’s 200th birthday in 2013, in collaboration with Burghard Dedner (Marburg; editor of the Historisch-kritische Ausgabe der Sämtlichen Werke und Schriften Georg Büchners and Head of the Büchner-Forschungsstelle) and Matthew Wilson Smith (Cornell; editor of the Norton Critical Edition of Georg Büchner).

We are seeking contributions which explore the relevance of his work today, and in particular, its relevance in an interdisciplinary perspective. Büchner’s work can, indeed, be contextualised with almost any academic discipline, from medicine and biology, through the social and political sciences and economics, ethnography and philosophy, to those where we would anyhow expect to find him, German studies, drama studies, comparative literature. We would be pleased to consider contributions focusing on aspects of Büchner’s work that touch on any of these fields, or on the specificity and significance of his multi-dimensionality in general. Regarding the latter, questions to be addressed could include: What is Büchner’s relevance beyond the discipline of German studies? What is his relevance for the medical humanities, or for contemporary literary theory, or for post-dramatic theatre/contemporary theatre practice? How does Büchner relate to debates on the (im)possibility of politics during the last 30 years or so?

We intend to make this conference a ‘text-based’ event by inviting all speakers to set out from a close reading of a passage central to their argument. Parallel sessions will be avoided in order to ensure that a continuous conversation can develop over the two days.

Proposals (300 words) for 20-minute papers in English or German, together with a short biography of the contributor, should be e-mailed to all three conference co-ordinators by 30 June 2012.
(The conference will be conducted in a way that accommodates non-German speakers.)

Ernest Schonfield ([log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>)
Daniel Steuer ([log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>)
Godela Weiss-Sussex ([log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>)

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