Call for Papers

Deadline November 14, 2014
Barriers: Confronting Obstacles in Language, Media, Politics and Culture

Hosted by The Department of German
University of California, Berkeley
February 28th – March 1st 2015.

Organized by: Stephanie Peltner, Cara Tovey, Alicia Roy and Jon Cho-Polizzi

With special guest and keynote speaker: José F.A. Oliver

This conference aims to explore our relationships to barriers: their establishment, presentation, and utilization in the present, past and future. We welcome submissions from all disciplinary backgrounds.


Barriers are an intrinsic element of society, and the ability to negotiate them forms the basis for progress, conflict or stagnation. In the German context, the barrier often evokes images of institutionalized violence: from the trenches of the First World War to the concentration camps of World War Two and the Iron Curtain which divided Europe in its wake. But barriers are more than politics, nationality or ideology. In contrast to borders which establish a fixed partition between two or more objects, the barrier exists in a state of multiplicity and flux: the negotiation of a single barrier simply reveals the existence of further barriers to come. The purpose of this conference is to reevaluate the barrier in its plurality, identify new and historical points of contention and question the traditional view that obstacles exist to be overcome. Rather than simply obstacles, barriers can be construed as catalysts, initiating a myriad of possible reactions and interactions. The barrier need not remain impregnable, but may function as a semi-permeable membrane: controlling the mobility of objects through diffusion and osmosis. How do we define barriers and what are their many purposes? How does the synergy of the barrier and its subjects shape our perception of barriers and their functions?

The UC Berkeley German Department’s Interdisciplinary German Studies Conference invites paper submissions from within German studies, as well as those from a wide variety of related fields including linguistics, history, film and digital media studies, comparative literature, sociology, anthropology, language pedagogy and psychology to name a few.

Possible paper topics could include (but are not limited to):

- national or political: censorship, peace walls, borders, confessions, and national languages; the construction or removal of these barriers and their repercussions

- linguistic: barriers and catalysts to linguistic change, be they spatial, phonological, morphological, or syntactic – what phenomena function within a language system to facilitate or inhibit change?

- literary or media representations of barriers and their significance and legacy

- interactions between standard language, spoken language and dialect in their social, institutional, economic and political contexts

- migration, integration and education: institutionalized barriers in the globalized world

- social constructs as barriers: constructing identity through gender, sexual orientation or race

- progress or paralysis: the barrier as functional and symbolic object

- disability and access

- reacting and interacting: the performance around barriers

Submissions: We welcome all submissions (English or German language preferred for presentation). Scholars wishing to participate should send an abstract, no longer than 300 words, and a CV or brief biographical statement to: [log in to unmask] by November 14, 2014. Presentations should not exceed 20 minutes.

Dr. Arnhilt Johanna Hoefle
Postdoctoral Scholar | Erwin Schrödinger Fellow
265 Dwinelle Hall, Department of German
University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720-3243
Research blog:

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