You are invited to contribute to the GSA 2014 Seminar “Shift: Culture, Society, and Change”
 
Organizers:
James M. Skidmore, University of Waterloo ([log in to unmask])
Christina Kraenzle, York University ([log in to unmask])


Environmental degradation, security and privacy concerns, perceived  democratic deficits, growing right-wing populism, economic instability and social inequality, youth unemployment, the future of the EU, migration and minority rights, lack of enthusiasm for the Grand Coalition – these are just some of the challenges presently facing German-speaking Europe. In this seminar we wish to explore German society as it is right now, in the middle of these many concerns, in order to understand how that society is responding and will respond to the pressures of the day.  We want to focus on the now: not how Germany and German-speaking Europe have met challenges, but how they are meeting challenges by means of artistic expression, economic development, political adaptations, and social change.
 
We seek papers that treat a wide variety of media and cultural arenas (e.g. film and visual arts, literature, music, theatre and performance, fashion, craft and design); political, social, and religious discourses (e.g. the NSA affair, innovative or grass roots responses to a changing world such as local food and movements, social justice initiatives, debates regarding the place of religion in society, intellectualism in the public sphere); economic studies (the role of the Euro in uniting Europe, future prospects for the German economy in the global age). In short, we are hoping to attract scholars from various fields who are willing to discuss, from their particular disciplinary perspective, what they see happening in German-speaking society and culture today and what that might mean for tomorrow.  All participants would be using their papers to ask how the activities, texts, ideas, movements, or debates reflect on our contemporary cultural moment and/or open up new space for activism and engagement.
 
Papers might seek to address one or more of the following questions (though the organizers welcome questions/topics that deal with any aspect of the German society’s present moment – these questions are meant as aids to help prod the creative juices):
 
* How have responses to contemporary sociopolitical issues necessitated new experiments in form or practice?
* How do responses to sociopolitical change communicate local or regional understandings of global concerns? Conversely, how might artists, cultural agents, and political actors engage with more transnational dimensions of local problems?
* Will the recent German federal elections change the social or cultural landscape of Germany?
* The Grand Coalition has made little effort to change Germany’s dual citizenship laws.  Does this mark a pause in Germany’s growing awareness of the intercultural component to its identity?
* Is Germany’s role as the central economic power of the Eurozone having an effect on the arts?
* What role will the politics of memory play in 21st century Germany?
* What distinguishes German youth culture from other western youth cultures?
* How do the contemporary narrative arts - film, theatre, literature – address the issues of the day?
* Are responses to sociopolitical change opening up new spaces of activism?
 
Those selected to participate in the seminar will be required to write 6,000-7,500 word papers to be circulated beforehand to all seminar participants.  The deadline for handing in the papers is 1 August 2014 (in order to allow participants enough time to read the papers at a time of year that is busy with summer vacations and fall term preparations).  The organizers will seek out publication/dissemination opportunities for the papers and keep participants informed of these developments.  The seminar will provide time for participants to make brief 5-10 minute statements summarizing the main points of their papers and/or responding to other papers in the seminar. The remaining time will be devoted to general discussion and debate.  At the present time no additional readings are envisioned for the seminar; since we are focusing on contemporary Germany we wish to leave as open as possible the impulses to which participants may wish to respond.
 
The role of the organizers will be to collect and make accessible the papers for the seminar, to moderate the discussions at the GSA, to seek out further opportunities for publication or dissemination of the papers, to liaise with the GSA, and to provide any other assistance required by the participants.  The organizers will communicate regularly via e-mail with participants in order to encourage participants to meet the deadline for the papers, to provide any additional information as may be necessary, to keep participants informed about the development of publication and dissemination plans, and to provide from time to time some additional resources (e.g. important Feuilleton discussions or other contemporary news) that may be relevant to the seminar contributions.
 
Applications for enrollment are due by January 30, 2014. If you wish to participate in a seminar, please visit the GSA Website (www.thegsa.org) and enroll electronically  under “membership services>conference proposals.” Applicants will be informed by February 6, 2014, whether they have been accepted or not. Please do not send your applications directly to the seminar organizers; although we are available to answer any questions about the content of the seminar, we do not control the enrolment process. For further information, please contact  the GSA Seminar Program Committee:
 
Lutz Koepnick, Chair (Vanderbilt University) | [log in to unmask]
Elisabeth Herrmann (University of Alberta) | [log in to unmask]
Emre Sencer (Knox College)| [log in to unmask]
 
 
Sincerely,
James M. Skidmore
Christina Kraenzle



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