CFP: The World Elsewhere (Graduate Conference)

Deadline:  31 December 2011

Interdisciplinary German Studies Conference, University of California, Berkeley, USA

16-18 March 2012

“For you the city, thus I turn my back: There is a world elsewhere.” – from Coriolanus, Shakespeare

Keynote speakers:
Professor James A. Schultz, Chair, Department of Germanic Languages, UCLA
Professor David Shneer, Department of History, University of Colorado

The power of literature is to imagine worlds. From Wolfram von Eschenbach’s Kingdom of Zazamanc to fantastic imaginings of faraway lands in Medieval and Early Modern Cosmographia and from Calvinist cities upon hills to Kafka’s penal colony, its renderings and attempted realizations have fueled the imagination, sparked debate, and far too often led to disaster. The world elsewhere may, following Thomas More, be called Utopia, but this is both a ‘good place’ and ‘no place,’ making such constructions inherently fraught with challenges from pragmatism and problematic in their definitions of what ‘good’ is. These worlds are often fantastic, but can also be terrifying; are often familiar, but upon closer inspection utterly alien. They are ‘imaginative spaces’ in which we work through the hopes, fears, desires, and possibilities that human experience engenders. They provide the means through which we imagine ourselves as part of a world, a universal community. The Internet and digital media grant us new power to simulate our imagined worlds. But how have the nature and use of these imagined worlds changed in our increasingly interconnected and globalized age?

For the conference, we encourage an interdisciplinary approach, seeking papers from scholars of modern and medieval literature, film and philosophy, history and art history, linguistics and sociology, and related disciplines. We especially encourage submissions on Yiddish literature.

The conference will be held in Dwinelle Hall at the University of California, Berkeley, March 16-18, 2012. Please submit a 300 word abstract for a 15-20 minute paper by December 31, 2011, to: theworldelsewhere@gmail.com.

Possible topics include, but are in no way limited to:

• Travelogues (e.g. Felix Fabri, Mendele Mocher Seforim’s The Travels of Benjamin the Third)
• The past as imagined world
• World literature and the making of worlds
• Models of an ideal society (religious, philosophical, artistic, political)
• Social media and connectivity
• The reconstruction of language families (e.g. Proto-Indo European, Proto-Germanic)
• Dystopian mirrors of modernity
• Feminist utopian literature
• Nostalgia for place (e.g. the shtetl, Heimat)
• The imagined worlds of moving pictures
• Utopian socialism and artistic communes (e.g. East Germany, Worpswede)
• Colonial and post-colonial fantasies
• Encounters with the ‘New World’ (e.g. Karl May, Alexander von Humboldt)
• Frankfurt School utopias
• The circulation of stories
• New forms of authorship, publication and readership
• Alternate histories

Source:  http://www.h-net.org/announce/show.cgi?ID=188890

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