Erich Auerbach's "Mimesis": The View from the 21st Century

deadline for submissions: 
September 15, 2016
full name / name of organization: 
Richard Schumaker Northeaset Modern Language Association
contact email: 

Erich Auerbach’s "Mimesis"—The Representation of Reality in Western Literature—was published in 1945 and had a tremendous influence in the middle part of the 20th century. Using a method of textual analysis to establish continuities from Homer to Virginia Woolf, Auerbach has been read by virtually every serious student of literature for seventy years now. Because of the scope and density of the book it is somewhat difficult to ready examine and evaluate Mimesis. This panel will examine Mimesis from two angles. First, we will study and reflect the overarching themes of this magisterial book. Second, we will look at his individual textual analyses to probe their validity and relevance in 2016.

Participants are encouraged to look closely at Auerbach’s close readings in the original languages in order to determine their strengths and weaknesses. As this is a comparative literature panel, one should assume that the literary texts will be examined in their original languages without the distraction of systematic translation.

This panel will savor the richness of Mimesis. Suggestions for presentation directions are as follows:

· The methodology of Mimesis

· Examination of specific continuities in Auerbach’s understanding of the Western tradition

· Reflection on the key chapters (on Stendhal, for example) in Mimesis and study of the turning points in the tradition that Auerbach establishes

· Commentary on Auerbach’s textual readings: do his reading hold up given the situation of current scholarship?

· Does Auerbach have oversights and/or misunderstandings?

· Major limitations of Mimesis.

Submissions of 250 words.