GSA Religious Cultures Network

Call for Papers/Panels

Network conveners:

Rainer Hering  < rainer.hering[a}>

William Collins Donahue <wcd2[a]>

Deadline for submission: February 1, 2013

Please send your proposals to both addresses (not to the GSA website)


“Between a Dead Language and a Hangover”? – Religion in Contemporary German Cultures


In his recent essay “Has Fiction Lost Its Faith?” writer Paul Elie argues that literature has in recent years parted ways with religion. Religion, he says “figures . . . as something between a dead language and a hangover.” “Where,” he inquires, “has the novel of belief gone?”


He concludes his thought-provoking essay with the following desideratum: “All the while, you hope to find the writer who can dramatize belief the way it feels in your experience, at once a fact on the ground and a sponsor of the uncanny, an account of our predicament that still and all has the old power to persuade. You look for a story or a novel where the writer puts it all to­gether. That would be enough. That would be something. That would be unbelievable.” (How) does this longing for the expression of belief in the public sphere culture apply to German-speaking cultures??  For example, The Federal Republic is a notoriously secular society, and yet religions of various kinds continue to play an important role and inflect culture in key ways.


The GSA Religious Cultures Network casts its net broadly to inquire into the place of religion in all German speaking cultures. We invite individual abstracts as well as pre-organized panels of three or four speakers to address religious issues in a thematically coherent manner. We are open to a broad spectrum of topics and approaches, and encourage interdisciplinary panels. The list of topics below is suggestive only.


Possible topics:

-religion in contemporary German-language literature; whither “the novel of belief” in German/Austrian/Swiss culture (Elie)?

-the reception of religion in the reprise of classical German literature; how are religious referents recognized and received today? Are they?

-the circumcision controversy: how religious was it? To whom?

-religious instruction in German, Austrian, and Swiss schools; what are the debates, the sociological reality; the challenges teachers and school systems face?

-religion and politics –do the “CDU” and “CSU,” for example, have anything to do with Christianity any more?

-Islam qua religion in German-Turkish literature, in German politics, in the German “culture wars.”

-the place of “Torah Judaism” in German Jewish literature and within German Jewish Studies more broadly.

-the literary/cultural articulation of religious concerns: need it be thematic (that is, specific, in the sense of Karl Rahner), or can it take the form of “ultimate concerns” (Paul Tillich) that speak beyond religious communities?

-the place of sacred scriptures in cultural practices and debates

-religion & politics: when is religion “authentic,” and when does it serve as a proxy for secular identity politics? Can one always differentiate?

-reform and reformation in religions

-how do religiously committed authors, intellectuals, scholars, politicians reach an overwhelmingly secular “audience”?


The GSA conference will meet in Denver from Oct. 3-6, 2013.  For information, see:

Presenters at the conference must become GSA members before February 15, 2013, and must register and pay the conference fee.


N.B. If your individual paper abstract or panel cannot be accommodated under the aegis of the Religious Cultures Network, you may immediately resubmit to the GSA (via the website above) by the Feb 15, 2013 deadline.

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