BY DISCUSSING THE ISSUES AND PROBLEMS THAT ARE CURRENTLY CENTRAL TO THEIR RESEARCH IN GERMAN STUDIES, THESE LEADING SCHOLARS WILL EXPLORE HOW LITERARY STUDIES CAN FULFILL THE EXPECTATIONS OF AN ACADEMIC DISCIPLINE AND CONNECT WITH WIDER SOCIETY.
These lectures are being held in conjunction with the search for the next holder of the Diefenbaker Memorial Chair in German Literary Studies. A poster with the descriptions of all five talks is also available: 2014 Diefenbaker Lecture Series Poster (PDF).
↘ THURSDAY, MARCH 6. 2014 7:00 PM / HH 1102
ANN MARIE RASMUSSEN | DUKE UNIVERSITY
WHY DO MEDIEVAL BADGES MATTER?
Medieval badges are small, cheap, mass-produced, lead-alloy objects meant to be worn, were sold throughout the high and late Middle Ages, and produced between the late twelfth century and the Reformation. Closer study reveals that medieval badges are not merely souvenirs, visual representations, or signs. Rather, they imagine the relationships between self and world in unexpected ways and they are best understood as an early form of media. I will offer thoughts about the impact of modern technologies and approaches on medieval studies and about the connection between the historical past and the present moment.
For a summary of Prof. Rasmussen's talk, please go to our department blog.
↘ THURSDAY, MARCH 13. 2014 7:00 PM / HH 1102
GABY PAILER | UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA
THE (MELO-)DRAMA OF THE ‘FAIR JEWESS’: RE-FRAMING SIR WALTER SCOTT’S IVANHOE (1819) IN FANNY LEWALD’S JENNY (1843)
Literary Studies deal with the long meanders of intellectual (world) history and inquire why mechanisms of political, social and cultural injustice are still reiterated in the 21st century. Walter Benjamin’s ‘Angel of History,’ who sees rubble piling up sky-high where an historicist view would build a progressive plot, reminds us to envisage remnants of the past and notions of the future without essentializing. Focusing on Jewish heroines torn between jousting crusaders in two 19th century novels, I’ll show how Lewald re-frames Scott’s medieval melodramatic plot of race, gender and nation-building as a modern quest for Jewish and women’s emancipation in pre-national Germany.
For a summary of Prof. Pailer's talk, please go to our department blog.
↘ THURSDAY, MARCH 20. 2014 7:00 PM / HH 1102
KEVIN S. AMIDON | IOWA STATE UNIVERSITY
TARRYING WITH THE POSITIVE, OR, HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND TEACH LITERATURE
Are Western forms of representative government and civil society in decline? Possibly due to a decline of reading? I claim that the two major models of Western post-Enlightenment political-economic subjectivity — the liberal-autonomous and the Marxist-class-conscious — no longer adequately ground arguments about either politics or culture. Ongoing developments in the relationships between texts, individuals, and groups relate more significantly to shifts in subjective understanding than they do to technological change. Texts remain technologically and economically mediated artifacts of the relationships between individuals and institutions, and retain their power to teach us about ourselves.
↘ THURSDAY, APRIL 3. 2014 7:00 PM / HH 1102
ELISABETH HERRMANN | UNIVERSITY OF ALBERTA
HOW DOES TRANSNATIONALISM REDEFINE CONTEMPORARY LITERATURE? AN INVESTIGATION OF FIVE GERMAN AUTHORS
Using fictional works as well as theoretical reflections by authors of different (trans-)national backgrounds as examples – Ilija Trojanow, Christian Kracht, Felicitas Hoppe, Daniel Kehlmann, and Dan Vyleta – this talk will draft new concepts of literary mobility, transnationalism, and world literature that will enable us to analyse the changing conditions and features of literature in times of globalization as well as to redefine the term “contemporary German literature” in the 21st century.
↘ TUESDAY, APRIL 8. 2014 7:00 PM / HH 1102
LAURIE JOHNSON | UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS
FORGOTTEN DREAMS: WERNER HERZOG’S ROMANTIC CINEMA
Herzog’s films re-envision central aspects of romanticism, a major aesthetic, psychological, and cultural force from the 1790s to the present. This argument permits a lively reconnection with romantic themes and convictions that have been partly forgotten in the midst of Germany’s vigorous postwar rejection of much romantic thought, yet are still operative today. The film analyses will engage those interested in ongoing attempts by Western and other cultures to re-negotiate relationships between reason and passion, civilization and wild nature, knowledge and belief: relationships at the core of German studies in the 21st century.
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