Go Green: Die Germanistik und grünes Gedankengut, The 1st Montreal German Studies Graduate Student Conference 23-25 April 2010

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McGill University & Université de Montréal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
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The 4th graduate conference at McGill and the 1st in collaboration with Université de Montréal, this year’s theme sees its justification in the steady rise of awareness toward environmental issues, a concern not solely limited to the political or scientific worlds, but also prevalent within the humanities. This awareness is corroborated, but at times also corrupted by the abundance of news coverage in the mainstream media that have increasingly presented climate change with an apocalyptic outlook. In contrast to its recent widespread popularity, environmentalism has a comparatively long history in German speaking cultures: It gained notoriety with the rise of the Green Party in the early 1980s, and it has been argued that its ideological predecessors were the 'back-to-nature' movements of the fin de siècle, most prominently the Wandervögel, while their roots extend even further, namely into and beyond Romanticism. In this paradigm, the natural environment has consistently been represented in a stark contrast to culture, alternatively as being threatened by the technological progress of modern society, or as being a threat to humankind's own survival. In addition to early concepts like Landflucht and Umweltverschmutzung, regularly found in discourse pertaining to the industrial revolution, nowadays further buzzwords have become commonplace, such as biodiversity, climate change, and global warming. How exactly have representations of nature and the environment in Germanic literature, film, and other mediums changed throughout the last centuries? How do we and earlier generations view, collect, and (re)present nature, and have innovations in technology altered these ways? What are the roles of mass media, academic literature, and fiction in these developments?

The themes of the conference include but are not limited to the following:

climate change
modernism, technological progress, and its 'external costs'
the Green Party and reactions from other political movements
nostalgia and the 'sublime natural'

Paper proposals (200 words) are accepted in German, French and English by December 1st 2009 at janet.janzen@mail.mcgill.ca. Please include the conference title in the subject heading.

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