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Workshop Papers 2010-11




Tuesday 12 October, 5.30 pm, S0.11 (Social Studies Building) [obs: different time and room from our normal workshops!]
(in collaboration with the Warwick Centre for Research in Philosophy, Literature and the Arts and the Research seminar in Post-Kantian Philosophy)


Raymond Geuss (Philosophy, University of Cambridge)

Paul Celan's 'Conversation in the Mountains' [Gespräch im Gebirg] and 'Meridian'
Raymond Geuss teaches Philosophy at Cambridge; he works in the general areas of political philosophy, social theory and the history of Continental Philosophy. His recent publications include Politics and the imagination (Princeton University Press, 2010); ‘The loss of meaning on the Left’ in The loss of meaning in the 20th century ed. Karin Wolgast (forthcoming 2010); ‘Bürgerliche Philosophie und der Begriff der “Kritik”’ in Was ist Kritik? ed. Jaeggi & Wesche (Suhrkamp, 2009); ‘Blair, rubbish, and the demons of noonday’ in Redescriptions (autumn 2008); Philosophy and real politics (Princeton University Press, 2008); Outside ethics (Princeton University Press, 2005). For more information see
It would further a lively discussion if participants could find the time to read Celan's texts in advance. Versions in English and German can be found on the CRPLA website,
Thursday 28 October, 6pm, H2.02 (Humanities Building) [obs: different day and time from our normal workshops!]
(in collaboration with the Warwick Centre for Research in Philosophy, Literature and the Arts and the Research seminar in Post-Kantian Philosophy)


Steve Giles (University of Nottingham)

Realism after Modernism: Representation and Modernity in Brecht, Lukács and Adorno
The theme of this paper – Realism after Modernism – will no doubt seem to many to be both otiose and obsolete in our postmodern era, and with good reason. The modernist critiques of realist conceptions of reality and realist representations of that reality blew apart the metaphysical and aesthetic frameworks underpinning nineteenth-century realism, and plunged the post/modernist artist into a mise-en-abîme of self-conscious images and self-deconstructing mirages. Not surprisingly, socially critical and politically committed artists in particular were faced with a seemingly intractable dilemma, namely: how can advanced capitalism and late modernity be represented if modernist critiques of realism are valid? This dilemma was particularly acute for Marxist aesthetic theorists, and my aim in this discussion is to revisit the various ways in which Brecht, Lukács and Adorno engage with the possibility of realism after modernism, in the context of their broader reflections on representation and modernity. I shall suggest that Brecht, Lukács and Adorno are rather closer theoretically than is often assumed, not least as all three accept that classic realism is in crisis because of the impact of late modernity. At the same time, they continue to be advocates of artistic realism, sharing the view that realist art must reveal what Adorno calls the ens realissimum of advanced capitalist society.
Tuesday 16 November, 5pm, H2.02 (Humanities Building)


Ian Roberts (University of Leicester)

Heroes in the Hindukush?: German war films in the twenty-first century

Since 1945 depictions of Germans at war have invariably been contentious. Films such as Berhard Wicki’s Die Brücke/The Bridge (1951) or Wolfgang Petersen’s Das Boot (1981) sought to contextualise their protagonists’ involvement in the war against a simplified framework of complicity with, or resistance to, National Socialism. Recent successes of Der Untergang/Downfall (Hirschbiegel, 2004) or Sophie Scholl – Die letzten Tage/The Final Days (Rothemund, 2005) revealed a lucrative market for continued examination of Germany’s Nazi past

Since German unification in 1990 Bundeswehr deployments in the Balkans, Iraq and, most recently, Afghanistan have been the source of much soul-searching. The cherished notion of the ‘Bürger in Uniform’ seemed in jeapordy: public responses to these deployments have revealed a society still adjusting to the reality of a new, more aggressive foreign policy.

Only gradually has this subject crossed into the sphere of contemporary German cinema. In this paper, Ian Roberts examines a number of radically different responses to Germany’s military commitments in the twenty-first century: in the WW1 aerial combat film The Red Baron (Niki Müllerschön, 2006) the rehabilitation of Manfred von Richthofen as an exemplary German war hero stands in marked contrast to post-war portrayals of German combat troops; the 2007 depiction of German troops on deployment in the Balkans, Mörderischer Frieden/Snipers Valley (Rudolf Schweiger) examines the moral dilemmas at the heart of modern-day peace-keeping operations, from a uniquely German persepctive; finally, the protagonist of Nacht vor Augen/A Hero’s Welcome (Brigitte Bertele, 2008), who has returned from an Afghanistan deployment suffering from acute post-traumatic stress, invites greater sympathy from German audiences largely unaware of the role of the modern Bundeswehr. While each film apparently agrees that war is hell, it seems that they are, tentatively, suggesting that contemporary German combatants may even be regarded as role models in the twenty-first century.