CFP: Precision, Correction, and Performance: Creative Process in Lessing’s Works (9/10/2015; ASECS; 3/31 - 4/3/16)


(Panel of the Lessing Society)


American Society of Eighteenth Century Studies (ASECS)

March 31-April 3, 2016

Pittsburgh, PA


Precision, Correction, and Performance: Creative Process in Lessing’s Works


            Decades before Kleist’s famous essay on the “allmähliche Verfertigung der Gedanken beim Reden,“ Lessing’s dramatic, philosophical, and theoretical texts examine the functional challenges of creative writing, visual art, sculpture, and performance. In an environment that delved into the functionality of language and that increasingly glorified and codified the semiotic effectiveness of body language in pantomime, ballet, and precision acting, Lessing’s works are often torn between the goal of precision and an emphasis on the very imperfectability of creativity.

From Miß Sara Sampson to Die Erziehung des Menschengeschlechts, explicit discussions of creative process, imagination, and improvement accompany the stylistic prominence of questioning, self-correction, re-casting, re-formulation, and reiteration, revealing anxiety about communicative accuracy and perfection. This panel seeks to probe the ways in which Lessing’s works explore notions of truth particularly through explorations of creative process, so as to find Lessing’s place in the larger history of discussions on creativity and creative process.


Topics might include:

-       Comparisons between Lessing’s work and other works more explicitly concerned with semiotic accuracy and/or creative process (Lord Chandos Brief, etc.)

-       Readings of Lessing’s letters that reflect on his own creative process.

-       New literary, philosophical, or theoretical analyses of particular works that discuss or perform models of process.

-       Assessments of stylistic elements in Lessing’s texts that demonstrate his philosophy of creative process.

-       Original readings of Lessing’s work informed by theories of creativity.

-       Scholarly discussions of how Lessing’s discussions and/or performances of (im)perfection fit into the history of 18th-century theater.

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Deadline: September 10, 2015

Pascale LaFountain
Assistant Professor of German and French
Modern Languages and Literatures
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