The German Studies Call for Papers List
Editor: Stefani Engelstein
Assistant Editor: Olaf Schmidt
Sponsored by the University of Missouri
Info available at:
Call for Papers
EXTENDED DEADLINE: February 15, 2015
Echoes – Reflections, German Studies Graduate Conference
Brown University, April 24-25, 2015
Keynote speaker: Prof. Avital Ronell, New York University
Ich kann Dich noch sehn: ein Echo.
Ertastbar mit Fühl-
wörtern, am Abschieds-
grat. – Paul Celan, Ich kann Dich noch sehen
At the ridge of language, language resounds as an echo – an echo that is the other of and in language, resounding in repetitions and transformations, always already endangered to be forgotten in impending silence. Silence haunts the end of each line break, each seismic shift, in the first stanza of Celan's poem "Ich kann Dich noch sehen" (1967), which addresses the echo—ἦχος—as an aesthetic phenomenon at the outer limit of presence. The outer limit of presence marked by the echo is never one of merely sound or speech, but towards and for a lost presence that has ceased to be hearable as well as visible. Such an interrelation of voice and reflection is also central to Ovid’s classical rendition of the myth about the nymph Echo: she is forced to repeat the words of her vis-à-vis, while Narcissus, at the brim of a well, falls in love with his own image.
Since the 18th century, the evasive echo has been a point of reflection in German literature and philosophy. From Lessing to Herder and Kant, aesthetic re-flection attempted to correct, enrich, and complement ethical and political discourse, whether as a subjective faculty, Besinnung, or the counterpart of conceptual knowledge. Between loss and intensification, echoes of thought and language reverberate through Hegel’s speculative logic, the Romantics’ idea of art as a medium of reflection, Nietzsche’s Genealogy of Morals, and Adorno's Aesthetic Theory. In the 20th century, during which concepts such as history and historical time were continuously challenged, the echo allowed for a rethinking of nonlinear and discontinuous forms of correspondence, interruption, and similarity. While Walter Benjamin emphasizes the translator’s task of perceiving the “echo of the original,” Heidegger, Celan, and others, in turn, take up the concern of how the pursuit of such an origin remains enmeshed in questions of historical specificity, politics, and rhetoric.
Psychoanalysis, linguistics, and deconstruction reflect upon the echo in questions of consciousness, narcissism, the other, and the self. While Freud claims that Narcissus could break the spell of melancholic fixation by listening to the echoes of the past—words never heard nor uttered—Lacan points out that the self is the very product of reflection. Thus, the constitution of a self, as Derrida and Lacoue-Labarthe discuss, a priori requires a reflection that allows for a relation to a distinct other, but it does not necessarily presuppose a distinct self.
Our conference will provide an opportunity to consider questions concerned with echoes, reflections, and their relationship across the supposed boundaries of literature, aesthetics, and politics: What would reflection be without echoes? Can there be echoes without reflection? How do collision, reversal, and reflection—the echo’s “wieder” and “wider”—relate to each other, as the German “Widerhall” suggests? How to relate to the zoon logon echon as the being that is—somewhere between Echo and Narcissus—both tempted to suspend time in speech, and forced to retain the word during the flight of experience? In considering the reverberations of echoes in German literature, philosophy, music, and art, we want to ask how the echo stages conflicts between sound and image, subject and object, art and philosophy. Through the interrelations of language and thought, we want to explore the structural and thematic echoes that influence our reading of texts, visual artworks, and musical compositions.
Topics may include, but are not limited to:
- Forms and figures of repetition, resonance, absence, non-identity in language and art
- Intervals of the echoless and the irreflexive in poetics, politics, philosophy, and rhetoric
- Psychoanalysis: Questions of consciousness, melancholia, mourning, and the self
- Poetics, linguistics, and philosophies of language
- Echoes in theories and histories of art, media, and literature
- Movements of suspense, resolution, and repetition in the history and theory of music
Please submit a 300 word abstract for a 20-minute paper by February 15, 2015 to:
The conference, hosted by Brown University's Department of German Studies (Providence, RI), will be held on:
Friday and Saturday, April 24-25, 2015
For more information, please visit our website: