CFP Realism's Mixed Modes, German Studies Association 2010, October 7-10, Oakland, California

full name / name of organization: 
Geoffrey Baker
contact email: 

CFP "Realism's Mixed Modes" German Studies Association 2010, Oakland, California

Realism's Mixed Modes

Eric Downing has pointed out, in his book _Double Exposures_, that realism continues to be viewed as a "heavily normed discourse or style, that purports to universal, transparent, natural, and ahistorical status, and the simultaneously and necessarily excludes or represses both self-consciousness and otherness. Katherine Kearns has also written that realism is "often charged with blindsiding social, political, and epistemological complexities, with throwing its considerable materialistic weight against all that would challenge or suborn the status quo."

However, while this stereotype of realism has certainly proven popular, several studies over the last 30 years have sought to trouble it. George Levine, writing in 1981, emphasizes that "realism posits 'mixed' conditions," and he has more recently read certain realist novels as staged duels between competing epistemologies. Marshall Brown, also in 1981, explains realist narrative as a product of "interplay" between "Jakobson's metonymic and sequential order" and "metaphorical or substitutional order"; as "the ordered or hierarchical intersection of contrasting codes"; and as "a structure of ordered negations perceived within the text quite independently of any relationship between the text and what is assumed to be its 'world.'" More recently, Lilian Furst has described the realist novel as "a record . . . of a past social situation and as a texture made up of verbal signs" which, "far from canceling each other out, . . . overlap in an inescapable and reciprocally sustaining tension that forms the core of realism's precarious enterprise." How might German realism be considered as a clash of competing codes? Opposed styles of knowledge? Content that challenges form?

This panel proposes a discussion of German realism's mixed allegiances: as a mixture or hybrid form; or as a product of tension between various codes, epistemologies, or other narrative modes; or even between content and form.

Please email abstracts of ca. 200-250 words in English or in German to Geoff Baker at gabaker at by Friday, 5 February, 2010. Please also include a short bio, contact info, and any audio/visual needs. I will notify those accepted within a few days and submit the final panel proposal to the GSA by their deadline of 15 February.