The Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures at the University of
Pennsylvania is holding its annual graduate student conference this coming
spring, entitled *"Geist* and the Machine." You will find the CFP as an
attachment and in the body of the e-mail. Please circulate to anyone inter

Jehnna Lewis and Roksana Filipowska

University of Pennsylvania

Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures

Graduate Student Conference 2013

* *

*Geist **and the Machine: A Graduate Student Conference on German Cinema
and Film Theory*

* *

*Keynote: *Gertrud Koch, Freie Universität Berlin

*Submission due date:** *January 15th, 2013

*Conference date:** *March 15th, 2013

The German term *Geist* bears no simple translation into English. From
spirit to mind to ghost to intellect, it exists both as a singular
philosophical concept and an elusive shapeshifter. In *The Spirit of Film*,
Béla Balázs writes that “the camera can photograph the unconscious,” citing
cinema’s ability to use technology in order to reveal immaterial thoughts
and desires, while placing it in a penetrating relationship to the idealist
and invisible nature of *Geist*. Throughout film’s relatively short
history, discussion and theorizing of the impact of the intrusive nature of
the medium on individuals and society at large has remained ever-presently
suspect. Yet writers such as Walter Benjamin offer an alternative approach
to this seemingly symptomatic problem by proposing that the film actor is
not exploited by technology, but rather “preserve[s] one’s humanity in the
face of the apparatus,” and futhermore, offers the spectator a chance to
regain one’s own humanity by proxy. This conference seeks to animate the
debate surrounding film’s value for society by exploring the relationship
between technology and imagination as illuminated by cinema.

While the focus of the conference is on German cinema and film theory, we
encourage submissions from other disciplines, not limited to: art history,
cinema studies, media studies, philosophy, history, communications,
sociology, comparative literature, and theology. We welcome topics on the
translation of German film theory and its influence, non-German films and
theoretical writing inspired by the German film canon and its deviations,
and methodologies that question cinema as an institution and its
relationship to marginalized spectators. We also welcome submissions from
practicing film-makers, animators, and video artists whose work is
influenced by the German philosophical tradition of *Geist* and the
technological experimentation of German directors.

Please feel free (but not obliged) to use the following broad themes as a

- early German film and theoretical writing (visualizing the speed and
movement of industrialism, anxiety over relationship between the human and
the machine between the World Wars, landscape/cityscape in early film)

- filming the unconscious (the uncanny, film’s potential to depict
alternative desires and modes of subjectivity, Benjamin’s optical

- film technology and film-making (the production process, the filmic
actor, the impact of advances of camera technology, relationship between
sound and image)

- representation of the immaterial in the material world (the relationship
between the spiritual and technology, the camera as a demiurgical eye)

Please send your 250-300 word abstracts in both the body of the e-mail and
as an attachment to Jehnna Lewis and Roksana Filipowska at [log in to unmask] by
*midnight on January 15, 2013*. Submissions should include the paper title,
author’s name, affiliation, and e-mail address. Those whose submissions are
accepted will be notified within the week.

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