International Conference on Romanticism: St. Louis, MO, October 22 - 24, 2020; Abstracts (300 words) due 2/28/2020

Moments of Confluence in German Literature (Please excuse cross-postings):


In early February 1800, Alexander von Humboldt set out from the town of Caracas, in the Capitanía General de Venezuela, on a scientific and cartographic trip, on which the participants were intent on discovering a suspected confluence between the Orinoco and Amazon river systems. Over the next several months, he and his colleagues ventured hundreds of kilometers deep into the South American jungle in search of this connection – despite the fact that many notable natural philosophers of the time considered the existence of any such juncture between two major rivers to be highly improbable, if not impossible. However, the intrepid Prussian explorer found the confluence (even though numerous local inhabitants were already quite aware of it), and despite numerous hardships, difficulties, and other setbacks, Humboldt was able to take a large number of sufficiently accurate measurements to create the most accurate and detailed map of the watershed that had yet been charted. Additionally, and most importantly, his experiences began to shape a new, Romantic understanding of nature itself, which emphasized connection, commingling, and confluence.


Seeking confluence and mapping the world -- Humboldt’s exploration of the South American fluvial connections provides an appropriate metaphor for the programmatic inclination of German Romantic authors, scientists, and philosophers to seek confluence, to observe how such flowing together complicates and enrichens experience, and to celebrate the uniqueness and mystery of such combinations. From Friedrich Schlegel’s “116th Athenäums-Fragment” to Novalis’s “Hymnen an die Nacht,” or from E.T.A. Hoffmann’s uncanny combinatorics of animals, automata, and humans to Wagner’s Gesamtkunstwerke, each in its way a celebration of aesthetic confluence, German Romantics pay close attention to the junctures among the artistic and intellecutal processes with which they engaged, as well as the new perspectives they provided.


In this panel we are seeking presentations of approximately 15 minutes that address “Confluences in German Romanticism,” and we encourage as broad an array of topics as possible. We celebrate the productive imagination of the Romantics, and welcome productively imaginative abstracts of approximately 300 words that address such possible topics as:


1. Romantic rivers

2. Romanticism and the confluence of science and art

3. Geography and Spatiality in German literature, language, or culture during the Romantic era

4. Political and Social Connections/Divisions and German/other rivers

5. The Rhine – political, social, aesthetic, cultural, or literary aspects

6. German rivers and travel literature

7. Romantic German hospitality

8. “Foreign” rivers / transatlantic connections

9. Displacement / refugees / migrants in German literature / culture of the Romantic era

10. German nationalism and rivers

11. Rivers and the Holy Roman Empire (or other empires) in German thought, literature, etc.

12. Translation and the fluvial

13. Slavery and German culture, literature, economics

14. Sexuality and gender fluidity in German culture/literature

15. Generic blendings in German literature and culture

16. Confluences of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in “German” history, politics, culture, language, or literature

17. Representing the ecology of waterways in German literature, culture, or science


Other suggestions are warmly welcomed, and we wish to interpret the ICR conference theme as widely as possible, in the context of German studies. We welcome any questions or suggestions via email. Please send abstracts of approximately 300 words to Rob Mottram ([log in to unmask]) and Chris Clason ([log in to unmask]) before February 28, 2020.


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