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WWIGS Programme 2015-16

Workshop Programme 2015-16

Unless otherwise indicated, all sessions will be on Wednesday afternoon, 4-6pm, in H2.02 (2nd floor Humanities Building)

Term 1
Wednesday 21 October 2015, 3.00-5.30 pm, MS.04
HRC/Centre for Research in Philosophy, Literature and the Arts Colloquium: Kafka and the human animal


Autumn 2015 marks the 100th anniversary of the publication of Franz Kafka's 'The Metamorphosis'. CRPLA is honouring the occasion by hosting a colloquium at which scholars will consider how and why Kafka brings non-human animals into his works as he does. What questions do these works pose for human animals? The event is open to the public, and we welcome readers of Kafka who would like to deepen their exploration and appreciation of his work.

Welcome and introduction

Elizabeth Boa (Nottingham) - What is it to be human? Kafka's A Crossbreed and Report for an Academy

Carolin Duttlinger (Oxford) - Beyond Gravity: Kafka's Animals and the Dream of Flying

Anne Fuchs (Warwick) - The Whistling Mouse: Deliberations on Resonance and Voice in Kafka's Josephine, the Singer, or the Mouse People

Nick Lawrence (Warwick) - When Apes Speak: Kafka, Species-Being and Race


This event is sponsored by Warwick's Humanities Research Centre, with further support from the Centre for Research in Philosophy, Literature and the Arts.

Term 2

Wednesday 13 January - Axel Goodbody (University of Bath)
Telling the Story of Climate Change: Narrative Strategy and the Challenge of the Anthropocene

Can stories be used to bring home to readers the reality of something as abstract as climate change, and to help us reflect on its political, social and not least its ethical implications? This talk will explore the significance for literary criticism of the concept of the Anthropocene, and discuss examples of American, British and German climate fiction, focusing on the narrative strategies with which Barbara Kingsolver, Ian McEwan, Ilija Trojanow and others have sought to map the global scale and deep time of climate change onto the localised experience and limited timespan of human life. Adam Trexler, Timothy Clark, Patrick Murphy and Kate Rigby have all published books on ‘cli-fi’ in 2015, charting its emergence as a 21st-century genre and asking whether not only traditional narrative strategies, but also modes of interpretation that once seemed sufficient or progressive have become, in this new counterintuitive context, inadequate or even latently destructive. The role of genres, master plots and symbols will be critically assessed and illustrated through comparison of two recent German novels which share a polar setting, Trojanow's “requiem for the future”, ‘EisTau’ (Melting Ice) and Susanne Franz’s young adult novel ‘Ins Nordlicht blicken’ (Looking into the Northern Lights).

4-6pm, in H2.02 (2nd floor Humanities Building)


Thursday 14 January, 10am-12pm - Axel Goodbody (University of Bath)
Postgradute Workshop on representations of climate change and climate scepticism

This workshop will discuss discourses on climate change in an intercultural perspective, including the surprising similarities between some of the arguments of climate activists and sceptics, and will give research students from a variety of disciplines the opportunity to present and discuss their work on related topics.
For registration and information please contact Hanna Schumacher,

Wolfson Research Exchange, Millennium Library, Library Road


Wednesday 10 February - Sean Allan (University of Warwick)

Transnational Stardom. Dean Reed, Socialist Cinema and the Politics of Mass Entertainment

Born in Denver in 1938, the American rock-singer and actor Dean Reed occupies a unique place in the history of socialist popular culture. By the early 1970s, Reed – an active supporter of Salvador Allende’s government in Chile – had established himself as one of the biggest stars in the Eastern Bloc. In 1972 Reed emigrated to East Germany where he played the lead role in a series of films made by the GDR’s film production studio, DEFA, including From the Life of a Good-for-Nothing (1973) and the comedy western Sing, Cowboy, Sing (1980). As my paper shows, while Reed’s allegiance to the GDR was seen as a massive coup by the ruling Socialist Unity Party (SED), managing the star personality of this representative of an ‘alternative, progressive America’ was to prove a huge challenge to the existing star system in East Germany. Although the DEFA studio was constantly seeking ways of addressing the need for a form of popular culture that was compatible with socialism, the ’solution’ offered by Reed was one that was almost impossible to accommodate within the existing parameters of East German cultural politics. (NB. This talk is designed to be accessible to non-German speakers).

4-6pm, in H2.02 (2nd floor Humanities Building)

Prof. Aleida Assmann
Public Lecture
Transnational Memory and the Construction of History through Mass Media
24 Feb 2016, 5-7pm

Humanities Building (Room 5.45)

A ‘transnational turn’ has been announced by historians and theorists in various subfields of cultural studies. The general challenge of the ‘trans’ is to go beyond national identification, investments and interests and to explore new forms of belonging, participation and cultural identification in a world characterized by dispersed and displaced populations with different historical experiences and trajectories. Looking beyond the border of nations is a promising methodology; but the term often covers up rather than uncovers important problems that are to be encountered in this new area of research. Given the growing impact of national history constructed in the mass media, this contribution will focus on the German Television Miniseries Generation War and its reception, asking whether it stimulates nationalistic narcissism or has the potential to re-image the national past in a more comprehensive European perspective.

Graduate Workshop on Transnational Memory
25 Feb 2016, 10-12 am

This workshop will offer graduate students working in the area of memory studies an opportunity to discuss the topic of transnational memory with Prof Aleida Assmann. Spaces are limited and registration is required for the workshop only. Please contact Ms Tracy Smith on by 12 Feb 2016.

Wednesday 02 March - Tara Windsor (Trinity College Dublin)
Weimar Writers and the International Politics of Culture: The Case of Ernst Toller

Although Ernst Toller’s busy travel itinerary in the 1920s and early 1930s is familiar to Toller experts, his lecture and reading tours in these years have received comparatively less scholarly attention than his international activities after 1933. The geographical scope of his travels in Europe and beyond in the Weimar years was extensive, while the cultural and political organisations and institutions under whose auspices his readings, lectures and speeches abroad took place were equally diverse. The paper will explore selected examples of Toller’s role as international activist and cultural ambassador in the Weimar era, placing these in the context of wider intellectual and institutional efforts in the field of European and international exchange. In doing this, it places Weimar Germany’s heated cultural debates in an international context – looking beyond their usual national setting – and enhances our understanding of the myriad ways in which the Weimar Republic was connected with other nations and societies, both in Europe and beyond.

4-6pm, in H2.02 (2nd floor Humanities Building)

Tuesday 08 March - Jeffrey L. High (California State University, Long Beach)
Two Centuries of Freude or Freiheit: Schiller's Responses to Leonard Bernstein's "An die Freiheit"

Western Happiness discourses since the turn of the nineteenth century demonstrate the emergence of a new orthodoxy in the general mistrust of “mere” happiness as the regulative idea of a republic. The public culmination of this shift is evident in Leonard Bernstein’s very problematic claim in 1989 that Friedrich Schiller originally wrote a poem entitled “An die Freiheit” (Ode to Freedom), only to replace "Freedom" with "Joy" – “An die Freude” (Ode to Joy) out of fear of censorship. Bernstein’s unfounded claim, and the fact that nobody (but I) disputed its plausibility, demonstrates to what extent Happiness has been displaced by Freedom in popular discourses since the eighteenth century.

Obs.!: Different day and time!

5:15-7:00 pm, in H2.02 (2nd floor Humanities Building)

Term 3

Wednesday 27 April - Silke Horstkotte (Universität Leipzig / University of Warwick)
Sacraments and sacramentality in contemporary German poetry

What role can literature and the arts play in a changing religious landscape, one in which religious practice is becoming much more rare and more private, yet also more diverse than ever before? My talk looks at poems by two contemporary East German poets, Uwe Kolbe (*1957) and Christian Lehnert (*1969) – poets who live and write in the most secular part of Europe. The two speak from different perspectives: Lehnert is not only the author of six volumes of poetry, a playwright and opera librettist, but also a Lutheran minister; Kolbe, who has published poetry, essays and fiction since the 1980s, has no faith affiliation. Yet both draw on Christian as well as on ancient and near-eastern myth and symbol in their search for a poetic voice that addresses the divine or transcendent. My talk focuses on one specific thematic area of this search by looking at poetic adaptations of the eucharistic sacrament. The sacrament and sacramentality were a central concern in the secularization of cultural elites in Germany around 1800, famously illustrated by such poems as Goethe’s Die Braut von Corinth (1797), Novalis’ Hymne (1798) and Hölderlin’s Brod und Wein (after 1800) that each offer challenging new interpretations of the sacrament. Through a close reading of Kolbe and Lehnert, I discuss whether poetry can play a similar role within the religious changes of the present, often described as a post-secular age, and I question what consequences a changing understanding of sacramentality has for a poetics of the sacrament.

Prof. Emma Mason (Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies) will offer a brief response, and we then look forward to a lively discussion.

4-6pm, in H2.02 (2nd floor Humanities Building)


Wednesday 11 May
Hanna Schumacher (PhD candidate, University of Warwick)
„Hinterrücks packen die-Toten die Lebenden, werfen sie nieder.“– Zur Beziehung zwischen Vergangenheit, Gegenwart und Zukunft sowie dem u/dystopischen Moment bei Dietmar Dath

Konflikt ist ein wichtiger Stimulus für Narration. Da die (literarische) Utopie häufig kein Potential für Konflikt mehr bietet, kann sie nicht mehr erzählt werden. Was allerdings erzählt werden kann, ist der Fortschritt und die Entwicklung hin zu einem utopischen Zustand, oder aber das Scheitern dieses Prozesses beziehungsweise sein Umkippen, also den Umschlag in die Dystopie. Diese ist derzeit sowohl im Film, im Fernsehen und im Roman überpräsent, und soll auch Gegenstand der Analyse dieses Vortrags sein. Anhand der Betrachtung eines Textes deutscher Gegenwartsliteratur, Die Abschaffung der Arten von Dietmar Dath, soll gezeigt werden, dass dieser Text sich nicht nur mit der Idee eines Utopia auseinandersetzt, sondern auch mit Zivilisationstheorie- und geschichte. Dabei wird diese hier zyklisch und zirkulär gedacht, ein Kreislauf, dem Daths Text zu entkommen versucht.

Maria Roca Lizarazu (PhD candidate, University of Warwick)
Nach dem Familienroman? Reconfiguring Holocaust Remembrance in Eva Menasse's Quasikristalle (2013)

In her recent publication on Neuverhandlungen des Holocaust, Kirstin Frieden traces the ways in which contemporary cultural production negotiates the latest shifts in Holocaust remembrance.1 Issues such as the dying out of the survivor generation, the increasing transnationalisation of Holocaust memory and the advent of new media technologies demand changes in the commemorative frameworks, while also calling for new aesthetic solutions. Drawing on Frieden’s study, my paper will demonstrate how Eva Menasse’s 2013 novel Quasikristalle addresses these shifts via the poetological metaphor of the “Quasikristall”. By resorting to a quasi-crystalline aesthetics and ethics of the ‘Erinnerungsmosaik’, Menasse thematises a number of questions that reach far beyond her particular novel, pointing to the present and future shapes of Holocaust remembrance: What role does the family (still) play as a narrative entity and as a site of transmission? What alternative, i.e. non-familial ways of transferring violent histories are there? What is the role of (new) media technologies in the cultural transmission of traumatic memories? To what extent is Germany’s past part of a transnational “Erinnerungsmosaik”, linking it to other histories of violence? How do these shifts influence conceptions of (female) Jewish identity?

4-6pm, in H2.02 (2nd floor Humanities Building)

Unless otherwise indicated, all sessions will be on Wednesday afternoon,

4-6pm, in H2.02 (2nd floor Humanities Building)