Graduate Student Conference
Germanic Languages and Literatures
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
November 1-2, 2012
Keynote Speaker: Stefan Andriopoulos, Columbia University
From Marx’s specters, to the Geist of Hegel’s Phenomenology to Benjamin’s Phantasmagoria, German literature, philosophy and history are permeated with ghosts, specters, and the occult. This conference positions itself within this tradition and aims to investigate the workings of ghostly manifestations within contemporary and historical perspectives. Despite lacking a claim to scientific verifiability, spectral imagery exerts a rhetorical power that is impossible to deny. It therefore seems pertinent to ask what resources categories derived from the supernatural bring to an understanding of salient theoretical questions.
Toward this end, we are interested in representations of ghosts in different media—whether textual, visual or aural—and the implications they present. The ghost challenges us to consider the relationship between material and immaterial worlds. It raises questions of whether pasts intrude upon and interrupt the present, or whether individuals or collectives conjure the ghosts of the past. The ghost poses difficulties to our understandings of space: although disembodied, the ghost can be seen as functioning within spaces such as museums, ruins and memorial sites. At the same time, ghosts can serve as an organizing ground for fields of alterity, subjugated discourses, and other “lost items.”
We invite graduate students working in all fields and periods of German Studies and related disciplines to submit proposals for 20-minute papers. Possible topics include: