MLA CFP (Forum: Late 18th- and early 19th-century German literature)

Toronto, Canada (January 7-10, 2021)




German literature and aesthetics of the late 18th- and early 19th-century are frequently concerned with movement and its aesthetic and ethical repercussions. Movement and stillness stand at the center of Lessing’s argument about the superior flexibility of poetry over the plastic arts; his interpretation of the Laocoon statue is predicated upon the “pregnant moment” in which movement is frozen. Movement appears frequently in German literature of the period both as “Bewegung” and “Rührung,” and both terms align with notions of authenticity, transparency and truth that emerge with the rise of the bourgeois drama and novel after 1750. Characters are frequently “bewegt” or “gerührt,” and both terms indicate an authentic emotional response. Yet movement becomes a more questionable concept in the latter part of the century; Lessing’s Wirkungsästhetik is taken to its extreme in the form of the popular “Rührstück,” a form that is received critically by Goethe and Schiller. Indeed, Schiller indicates his discomfort with “Bewegung” in the Briefwechsel with Goethe about Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre: “Mir deucht, daß Sie hier die freie Grazie der Bewegung etwas weiter getrieben haben, als sich mit dem poetischen Ernste verträgt.”


This panel seeks to explore movement’s varied moments of signification in the period’s aesthetic thought and production.


Some possible topics for papers include but are not limited to:

-       the trope of dance in literature and aesthetic thought

-       the tableau vivant in literature

-       movement as psychological truth

-       movement and the dialectic

-       movement and Weimar Classicism

-       Wirkungsästhetik

-       the “Rührstück”

-       movement and vitalism/signs of life

-       movement of things and people within and around artistic works

-       medial considerations, i.e. media that catalyze, capture, promote and stall movement

-       movement and the sensorium

-       “Bewegung” and/or “Rührung” in the context of mobility studies


Please send 300-word proposals with a short bio by March 17 to Heidi Schlipphacke ([log in to unmask]).



Heidi Schlipphacke

Associate Professor of Germanic Studies

Director, Graduate Studies

University of Illinois at Chicago

601 S. Morgan St., MC 315, UH 1516

Chicago, IL 60607

(312) 996-0965


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