Call for Participants

German Studies Association Seminar: German Travel: New Directions 
September 29-October 2, 2016 in San Diego

The deadline for applications is has been extended to February 1, 2016. 
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: New Directions

Seminar Description
Travel narratives have ranged from mythical tales going back as far as 
Homer’s Odyssey and adventure stories such as Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe to 
travel memoirs, expedition reports such as those by Alexander von 
Humboldt, guidebooks (Baedeker), and travel blogs. These texts have 
served an equally wide array of purposes, from providing entertainment 
and feeding (off) Abenteuerlust and Fernweh to shaping the popular 
conception of far-away regions and civilizations. As such, travel texts 
have always been intricately linked to author biography and the national 
imagination. Therefore, travel narratives tend to express as much about 
the conditions in the writer’s own home country as they tell about the 
destination of a particular journey. As travel texts became a staple on 
the literary market, travel experiences in themselves 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 writing, as well 
as other media forms such as the blog, travel reports in newspapers, the 
public presentation of travel images, geographic almanacs, and reports 
to geographic and scientific societies allow for readers’ engagement 
with the travel experience without actually having to travel at all 
(armchair travel). Travel narratives thus provide a rich tapestry of 
exchanges in terms of modalities of travel and sightseeing. Questions 
that can be addressed through travel literature (in its broadest sense) 
include the construction of the modern self, issues of gender and race 
and how these impact access to travel, and the modern construction of 
nation and national border through travel. Focusing on the particular 
travel destinations, especially culturally charged places such as Rome 
or Paris can yield insights into how destinations are constructed on the 
literary page. This can also lead to questions of canon formation, 
which, in turn leads to the issue of genre. 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 

Seminar Format
This seminar is a continuation of last year’s successful seminar “German 
Travel Writing from the 18th to the 21st Century.” We received a large 
number of applicants from history, literature, cultural studies, and art 
history to our seminar, which speaks to the continued interest travel 
holds for scholars. All members of this fall’s seminar expressed great 
interest in organizing a second seminar on the topic in order to bring 
together again the core group of scholars who work on travel writing and 
to include new scholars as well. After the 2016 GSA conference, we plan 
on developing a “network” with the core participants to extend our 
presence to future conferences, to continue our academic exploration of 
travel literature especially from a theoretical perspective, to explore 
the publication of an edited volume, and to offer younger scholars an 
academic forum in which to present their ideas. Participants will write 
and pre-submit short (2500-3000) word essays related to one of the three 
topics. These essays will be distributed by email in advance and will 
form the basis of each day's discussion. Because the essays will have 
been distributed before the seminar, on the days of the seminar each 
participant is expected to briefly (5-10 minutes) highlight the main 
points of his/her paper, sketch the trajectory of his/her work, and 
summarize his/her theoretical frame. The rest of the seminar time will 
be spent on discussing the papers in connection to the respective theme 
of the seminar day.
The three days of the seminar will be structured thematically: * Day 
One: Authenticity and reliability in travel writing (how are 
authenticity and reliability displayed, what are the text markers for 
authenticity and reliability, how do reliability and authenticity relate 
to issues of genre?)
* Day Two: Narrating travel (what are the narrative possibilities of 
travel literature, how are issues of non-linear narrative and chronology 
negotiated, what kind of narrative theoretical models are applicable to 
the study of travel literature?)
* Day Three: Genre (what implications have the various genres of travel 
narratives, such as travel report, travel diary, journal column on the 
text and its reception, how does genre influence the reception of the 
text and its usage by the reader; how have new media such as visual 
presentations, blogs etc. changed the perception of travel)
The conveners, Daniela Richter and Karin Baumgartner, will be 
responsible for collecting essays by email ahead of the conference and 
distributing them to the participants ca. 3 weeks ahead of the 
conference. We will share the duties of moderating each day's 
discussion. On the basis of our reading of the day's essays, we will 
formulate a short set of discussion questions to focus each morning's 
conversation that will be emailed before each session. Based on last 
year’s discussion, we will ask participants to name a few (1-3) key 
theoretical texts on which their work is based. We will then collect 
these references and provide participants with a bibliography of the 
theoretical key texts of the field. Participants will not be required to 
have read these texts.
Feel free to contact the conveners with any questions:

Daniela Richter (richt2dm(at)
Karin Baumgartner (karin.baumgartner(at)

Karin Baumgartner
Associate Professor German
Department of Languages and Literature
University of Utah
1400 LNCO
255 S. Central Campus Drive
Salt Lake City, UT 84112
Phone: 801-585-3001
Fax: 801-581-7581
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