Literature and Generation

deadline for submissions: 
September 15, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
Jan Lensen / Freie Universität Berlin
contact email: 

The term ‘generation’ has played a formative role in literary histories of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries to articulate notions of evolution, rupture, and continuity. Its use is, however, not uncontested and has been the subject of intense scholarly scrutiny in literary studies and cultural memory studies over the last two decades. As Astrid Erll has noted, the concept of ‘generation’ is marked by two dimensions: generationality and genealogy. The first term indicates how generations define themselves or are defined on the basis of a shared ‘space of experience’ (Koselleck); the second term points at the relation generations maintain to what or who precedes them. A generation is made up, in other words, by synchronicity and contemporaneity as well as by diachronic transmission and the dynamics of change. Generationality and genealogy are, however, not strictly separated from each other; speaking about one dimension always implies assumptions about the other. The precise nature of this relation is, hence, highly complex and requires continued theoretical discussion and analytical research.

In this one-day conference, we wish to explore the relation between generationality and genealogy in literary and artistic works in more detail. For that we invite papers that approach this relation from a theoretical angle as well as contributions that investigate how this relation plays out in literary and artistic works from different cultural contexts, such as in literature about war, the Holocaust, migration, transatlantic slavery, etc. Papers on additional cultural contexts are of course also welcome.

The conference will include a keynote address by Prof. dr. Aleida Assmann from the University of Konstanz.

Please send a 300-word abstract, including your name, the title of your paper, and your university, for a 20-minute presentation to jan.lensen@fu-berlin.de by Friday 15 September 2017.