GSA 2019 Panel: Theory Critical, or Marx, Nietzsche, Freud Now

deadline for submissions: 
February 12, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
Kevin Eubanks, United States Naval War College
contact email: 

German Studies Association Annual Conference, Oct. 3-6, 2019, Portland, OR, USA

Panel Title: Theory Critical, or Marx, Nietzsche, Freud Now

A recent German Studies conference set out to imagine who would fill the future, yet untaken, space alongside Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud (MNF) in the pantheon of influential modern thought, but more than one participant left the conference asking a more urgent question about the possibility of its being left un(ful)filled. Although their grasp of the historical, social, economic, political, and cultural forces that shaped the evolution of the 19th and 20th centuries cannot be denied, one has reason to wonder whether the world over which this grasp extends has not changed significantly, or, accepting that it has changed, what impact this change has had and will have on our readings of MNF and on the scope and limits of their thought and influence.

Foucault, in 1967 in the earliest assessment of their collective contribution, cites MNF as the founders of an entirely new interpretive regime that sets the conditions for thinking in and thinking about the 20th century. According to Foucault, on the other side of this seismic hermeneutic shift “human profundities become mere child’s play.” Is it stilltrue, for instance, that Nietzsche’s readers have yet to be born? After all, this shift that renders the profound mundane does so, in part, because, as Foucault goes on to say, interpretation becomes “an endless task” under the intense pressure of this dislocation. Of course, if interpretation is always ongoing, then one may reasonably ask at which point along this continuum we are now and what is the status of MNF at this juncture? Do we live in a post-MNF world? And, if so, what are the implications of this overcoming? On the other hand, it would be just as reasonable to ask a very different question, that is, whether the world hasn’t finally given up on and aborted the “endless task” of interpretation and critique altogether. Whatever the case, we can no longer pretend that critical theory isn’t on trial in a variety of ways, and yet no one has attempted to make the public case for theory. The panel welcomes papers that venture to answer any of the above questions and that, through an emphasis on MNF, make the case for critical theory in a new age; engage how the shift represented by MNF extends, or fails to extend, into contemporary knowledge and practice; and/or explore where the 21st century reveals or demands lines of effort and inquiry into MNF and their legacy that the 19th and 20th centuries did not.

Please send abstract (350-600 words) and a short bio (Name, Institution, Areas of Interest and Expertise) as MSWord or Adobe PDF file attachments to Kevin Eubanks at by Feb. 12, 2019, 11:59PM EST.

Kevin Eubanks received his PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is currently Associate Professor of Writing and Humanities at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, RI, USA. His research interests and areas of expertise include critical theory and comparative literary and philosophical modernism(s).