20th Annual German Graduate Studies Conference at the University of Virginia: Virtues and Vices February 22-23, 2013

full name / name of organization: 
Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures, University of Virginia
contact email: 
uvagermangradconference2013@gmail.com

“Was man besonders gerne tut / Ist selten ganz besonders gut.”
("Whatever you may like to do / Is seldom very good for you.")

This humorous observation from Wilhelm Busch has its roots in the vexing and intricate moral categories of virtues and vices. Does virtuous mean anything other than abstaining from vice? What affects the way in which we make ethical and moral decisions Which authority decides who is a sinner and who is a saint? Interpretations of virtues and vices fluctuate over time, and what is appropriate today is unbecoming tomorrow: be it the Crusades, witch hunts, and political martyrdom or Madame Bovary and “Sympathy for the Devil.”

As a consequence of the changing social formations which establish the concepts of virtue and vice, we still struggle with daemonic and irrational forces within us. The advent of improved and varied means to study human behavior has yet to satiate our interest in the definition of and explanation for virtues and vices. Man is perpetually affected by this duality – whether through the internalization of cardinal, chivalric, or bourgeois virtues and the exorcising of past vices, or through the vehement rejection of anything with an obvious moral tinge. For the imposition of virtues and vices also threatens our belief in the sovereignty and rationality of the subject.

At this conference, we would like to explore the question of virtues and vices from a literary perspective as well as that of related disciplines, including art, history, philosophy, religious studies, and sociology. We invite graduate students working both within and outside of German Studies to submit papers in English or German on a specific topic related to the conference theme.

Possible topics include but are not limited to:

-the use(s) of virtues and vices as a rhetorical strategy
-the imposition and transgression of rules
-the role of the subject in a world defined by virtues and vices
-the historical variations of crime and punishment
-the moral or ethical purpose of literature and humanistic studies
-the effects of different media on our perception of virtues and vices
-the Seven Deadly Sins and their cultural transformation up through the present day
-the status of chastity as a virtue – a primarily feminine / misogynous concept?
-the gendering of virtues and vices
-the intersection of the natural sciences with humanistic discourse

Submissions: The deadline for submissions is December 10, 2012.

Please send an abstract of not more than 250 words, along with the proposed title, author’s name, affiliation, and email address to:
uvagermangradconference2013@gmail.com.

For more information, please visit: http://uvagermangradconference2013.wordpress.com/

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