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Workshop 2012-13

All talks will take place at 5.10pm in H2.02 (Humanities Building, Library Road)! All welcome!


Thursday 09 May (week 3) 5-6pm, University Bookstore, Arts Centre:

Wine reception in honour of Rosi Braidotti with a presentation of her new book, The Posthuman (Polity, 2013)

(hosted by the Centre for Research in Philosophy, Literature and the Arts, in collaboration with the Workshop for Interdisciplinary German Studies)



Tuesday 22 January (week 3) 5.10pm, H2.02

Evelien Gans (Professor of Modern Jewish History, University of Amsterdam):

'The many guises of Jud Süss: The court Jew Joseph Süss Oppenheimer as projection screen of Jewish history and antisemitic stereotypes'

NOTE: 3.15-5pm , H4.22 Film Viewing: Jud Süss (Veit Harlan, Germany, 1940, 98 min, English subtitles)

Please note: This viewing is not in our usual seminar room, but on the 4th floor of the Humanities Building! Having seen the film is not a prerequisite for Prof. Gans's talk at 5.10pm in H2.02. Prof Gans will also talk about Lothar Mendes' anti-antisemitic film Jew Süss (UK 1934), based on Lion Feuchtwanger's 1925 novel Jud Süss. Mendes' film is likewise available on youtube at


Tuesday 29 January (week 4), 5.10pm, H2.02 (Humanities Building)

Helen Finch (University of Leeds):

'Sebald's Bachelors: Queer Resistance and the Unconforming Life'

Helen Finch

Why are homosexual bachelors, moments of queer desire and alternative models of masculinity scattered throughout the work of the celebrated German writer W. G. Sebald? From the painter Matthias Grünewald in After Nature who has a ‘better eye for men’, to Edward FitzGerald in The Rings of Saturn who goes cruising on the North Sea in search of a lover, decked out in a feather boa, queer bachelors reappear again and again.

In this talk, Helen Finch argues that these bachelors subvert melancholy throughout Sebald's poems and prose. While Sebald is known as the pre-eminent ‘anatomist of melancholy’, literary historian of trauma and mourner of the Holocaust, the queer moments in his texts disrupt the dominant themes of catastrophe. Because they refuse normative structures of masculinity, heterosexual desire and reproduction, these queer moments serve as a form of resistance to the dominant structures of German literature, European history and patriarchal society.

Drawing on the theories of Deleuze and Guattari, Finch argues that Sebald’s queer bachelors are by turns comic, tragic and poetic, but they still combine to the production of a ‘desiring machine’ within Sebald’s work. This provides an alternative, possibly more hopeful way to respond to the tragic effects of capitalism and the losses caused by the progress of history.

Tuesday 19 February (week 7), 5.10pm, H2.02 (Humanities Building)

Maria Hetzer (PhD candidate, Department of Theatre and Performance Studies and Department of German Studies):

'Bodies in and of crisis: The German "Wende" remembered'

Tuesday 5 March (week 9), 5.10pm, H2.02 (Humanities Building)

Alexandra Pontzen ( Université de Liège / Universität Duisburg-Essen):



Tuesday 20 November (week 8)

Knut Langewand (PhD candidate in German Studies, University of Warwick):

'"How does the sick German state get well?" - Metaphors of Sickness in The Political Discourse of Weimar Germany'

One of the main reactions to the Janus-faced character of modernity (D. Peukert) in interwar Germany was the “pathos of decisionism” of many of its intellectuals. Within the wider narrative of crisis, it often undermined the public legitimacy of the first democratic German state.

Much of this radical criticism was steeped within bodily images, and yet very little attention has been given to these body and sickness metaphors in political discourses despite the widespread use of the “body politic” (Volkskörper) in contemporary writing.

Which images did these writings invoke? Who were the people employing these metaphors, and in which contexts were they used? And finally - how representative is the landscape of sickness metaphors for the political discourses of Weimar?


30 October (week 5):

Madhu Sahni (Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi):

'Necessary alterity: Translating Indian Literature into German'

In the past decades the sheer number of Indian novels being translated into German is astonishing when one compares this output to the preceding decades. Astonishing too is the fact that over 80% of these novels are in English. The textual reception and the cultural representation of India are happening through a language used by a miniscule urban minority. How does one explain this phenomenon and what does the actual translation process entail when the multilingual (Indian) English text is translated for a predominantly monolingual readership?

English in India remains a contentious issue even today, when it is, at least on the surface, no longer about colonization, but rather about globalization. In 1938 Raja Rao wrote in the preface of Kathapura, “One has to convey in a language that is not one’s own the spirit that is one’s own.” The writer has “to convey the various shades and omissions of a certain thought-movement that looks maltreated in an alien language”, yet contends Raja Rao English is not an alien language for Indians, he believes it to be the language of “our intellectual make-up”. And a contemporary young writer, Siddhartha Deb, states that he writes in English because, “I found in English a vehicle of social mobility, a way to enter restricted spaces.” (2006) Both these writers considered it necessary to explain what it meant to write in English in colonial and post-colonial India.

Is India being mediated through English and what does this mean for the cultural dialogue between Germany and India? An analysis of reviews and glossaries of the translated Indian novels will help to come some understanding of how English novels contribute to this dialogue.