Traveling Forms: Global German Studies

deadline for submissions: 
November 15, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
29th Annual Berkeley Interdisciplinary German Studies Conference

As a pandemic and international solidarity for Black Lives Matter demand reckoning with crises of a global scale, we propose to rethink German Studies in its constitutive contradiction: formed around a national canon, yet also situated in global networks, the discipline calls for conceptual, aesthetic, and historical reevaluations of cultural-medial forms in motion. Around 1800, Immanuel Kant conceptualized cosmopolitanism without leaving Königsberg, and the decreasingly mobile Goethe projected the idea of world literature from his study in Weimar, suggesting that visions of global circulation often arise in tension with local limitations on mobility. In this sense, we pose questions such as: how has the relationship between bodies, forms and their circulation been envisioned?

What happens to forms when transported into

different cultural contexts?

Such questions must also be considered in light of their political implications. On a fundamental level, even the terminology of the “global” reenacts an imperialist attitude towards the earth and adheres to the logics of market value and racial capital. Scholars like Claudia Breger and Pheng Cheah speak of “world making” to challenge these logics and in turn highlight the constitution of communities through literature and film. World is not identical with the spatial expansion of the globe but a temporal process in which affective attachments are unfolded and reconfigured. What worlds are created by the transnational circulation of forms? And how do border regimes and asymmetrical power relations impact these transmissions? How can travelling forms imagine a world that departs from colonial legacies?

We solicit contributions from both faculty and graduate students in all fields that engage with global relations in the context of German-language culture and thought. Possible topics include:

  • world literature and film,

  • global audiences and readerships,

  • postsocialist memory,

  • transnational affect and intimacy,

  • orientalist writing,

  • transcultural dialogue,

  • diasporic identities,

  • digital media and global connectivity.

Papers will be pre-circulated and discussed in online workshop panels. We seek to accommodate participants in different time zones. Selected papers will be considered for publication in Transit: A Journal of Travel, Migration, and Multiculturalism in the German-speaking World.
Applicants should submit a short abstract (300-500 words) by November 15. The papers (10-12 pages) will be due by January 15. Contact: