Call for Participants
German Studies Association Seminar: German Travel Writing from the 18th to the 21st Century
 October 1-4, 2015 Washington, DC
The deadline for applications is *January 30, 2014.* For directions on enrolling in this seminar (you must be a current GSA member), visit the GSA webpage and the following link that details the submission process:
As per the GSA seminar selection committee: "Participation in a seminar involves intellectual work akin to preparing a paper and will thus count as such. All seminar participants will be listed by name in the program. If you are accepted to be an active participant in a seminar, you are not allowed to give a paper in panel sessions. However, you may moderate or comment on a panel.
Some individuals may choose to be a silent auditor to a seminar. Slots for auditors are limited; the enrollment process for interested auditors will only take place after the entire GSA program is set.
When enrolling seminar applicants will be asked to submit a mini vita (no more than 1000 characters) and a statement of purpose (no more than 1000 characters) indicating why they intend to participate in this seminar, how their past or current research connects to the topic and what their focus will be in this seminar."

German Travel Writing from the 18th to the 21st Century
Seminar Description
The acts of traveling and narrating have been intertwined from the beginning. Travel narratives have ranged from mythical tales, going back as far as Homer¡¯s Odyssey, adventure stories, travel memoirs, expedition reports, and guidebooks (Baedeker) to travel blogs. These texts have served an equally wide array of purposes, from providing entertainment and inspiring Abenteuerlust and Fernweh to shaping popular conceptions of far-away regions and civilizations.
Travel narratives thus provide a rich tapestry of exchanges in terms of modalities of travel and sightseeing. As travel texts became a staple on the literary market, travel experiences can be seen to increasingly build on pre-formed notions of what there is to see and in turn shape and influence what others are to see. Travel narratives, more than other forms of literature, are marked by intertextuality particularly in the way the experience of the journey is filtered through pre-existing textual traditions. In addition, travel writing, as well as other media forms such as the blog, travel reports in newspapers, the public presentation of pictures, geographic almanachs, and reports to geographic societies allow for an engagement with the travel experience without actually having to travel at all (armchair travel).
Even though scholarly interest in travel texts is currently very strong, there is as yet no unified discourse nor are there established theoretical underpinnings to the various discussions. In fact, travel texts are still difficult to classify since they straddle various areas such a geography, history and fiction, as well as a whole host of different textual genres. Issues of gender, colonial power, multiculturalism, but also notions of aesthetics and narratology can be traced through recent scholarly discussions of travel texts.
This seminar therefore situates itself at the nexus of casting a wide and inclusive glance at the topic of travel narratives while at the same time emphasizing commonalities in both the way that scholars go about analyzing these texts and the results which these analyses yield. The central feature of travel narratives is the positioning of the narrator vis-¨¢-vis the country and culture encountered while traveling. Therefore, some of the discussion threads concern the construction of the modern self through travel, especially the various ways in which real and imaginary travel liberate the individual to construct new social conventions. Other questions include the issue of gender and how it impacts the author¡¯s experience and narrative, and the modern construction of nation and national border through travel. Focusing on the particular travel destinations can yield insights into how travel writing traditions get established and also change over time. Another set of questions relates to the influence of technology and social media inventions on the process of traveling as well as the reception of travel. Ultimately the seminar will address the question what German Studies can contribute to the history of travel as a cultural phenomenon in the German-speaking countries.

Seminar Format
The conveners are interested in organizing this seminar in order to bring together a core group of scholars to work collaboratively on the topic. At last year¡¯s GSA we received an overwhelming number of proposals for our call for papers on the topic. We noticed that the topic is of great interest across history, literature, and art history, and that there are many scholars working on travel literature. As a result, the conveners were invited to guest-edit a special issue of the journal Colloquia Germanica. This seminar would be the next step to develop a ¡°network¡± among scholars to continue the academic exploration of travel literature especially from a theoretical perspective in a second journal issue or edited volume, and to offer younger scholars an academic platform in which to present their ideas.
Participants will have written and submitted short 2500-3000 word essays on a topic related to travel literature.  These essays will be distributed in advance and will form the basis of each day's discussion.  Because the essays will have been distributed before the seminar, we will not have formal paper presentations during the seminar itself; rather, the conveners will use the day's essays to structure and moderate each morning's conversation. Each participant is expected to highlight the main points of his/her paper, sketch the trajectory of his/her work, and summarize his/her theoretical frame.

The three days of the seminar will be structured thematically along lines described above:

¡ñ       Day One: Descriptions of travel taken. These narratives include non-fictional travel essays and travel handbooks, reports to geographic societies, letters home from the foreign destination, etc.

¡ñ       Day Two: Travel in literature. These narratives are imaginary journeys the literary protagonist undertake. This group will include travel memoirs such as Goethe¡¯s Italienische Reise where the actual travel is subordinated to the literary goals or excentric travel narratives, which use textual conventions of travel literature in innovative ways.

¡ñ       Day Three: Theoretical and narrative concerns. How can travel be narrated? What kind of theoretical models are useful? Can literature profit from discourse in geography, history, art history, museum studies etc. to understand travel narratives?

The conveners, Daniela Richter and Karin Baumgartner, will be responsible for collecting essays ahead of the conference and distributing them to participants, and they will share the duties of moderating each day's discussion.  On the basis of their reading of the day's essays, they will formulate a short set of discussion questions to focus the morning's conversation.  These can be distributed to participants (who will have already read the papers) in advance of the conference and will then serve to structure the daily conversations.

Feel free to contact the conveners with any questions:
Daniela Richter (richt2dm(at)
Karin Baumgartner (karin.baumgartner(at)

Daniela Richter, Ph. D.
Associate Professor of German
Department of Foreign Languages, Literatures and Cultures
Pearce 317
Central Michigan University
Mt.Pleasant, MI 48859


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