SUMMER SCHOOL 2022 »TACET AD LIBITUM! TOWARDS A POETICS AND POLITICS OF SILENCE« 24-29 JULY 2022 (Registration deadline: July 1, 2022)

deadline for submissions: 
July 1, 2022
full name / name of organization: 
WWU Münster / Graduate School Practices of Literature

Silence (tacere or Schweigen) has been considered by Franz Rosenzweig among others as a subversive act or defiant stance of the tragic hero against overwhelming power mechanisms of necessity, i.e., totalization and universality. It has also, however, been regarded as an epiphenomenon (or a result) of marginalization and oppression by postcolonial theorists. The latters’ understanding marks silence as an end, a potential violent effect of the logics of exclusion and marginalization by “signifying machines”. The former understanding marks silence as a means of rendering mechanisms of powers inoperative. Therefore, the significance of silence appears to oscillate within an aporia of means and ends, singularity and universality, a-thesiology and thesiology, performance and logos. For the Münster Lectures and Summer School to be mutually complementary, we want to re-explore these known aporias from the perspective of silence as a concept which may occasion an ethics, poetics, and politics of “pure means” or violent ends. Can a logic of silence call for something more than resignation or defiance, complicity or conformity, and if so, how can the notion of silence be expanded into the realm of political action, or into new realms with newvoices? The Summer School will be divided into three sections: Theory, Poetics and Politics. We do, however, foresee a continuous interaction between the three fields.


The Summer School will open with the Münster Lectures which seek to combine the merits of theoretical and literary insight of renowned scholars, prominent writers, and cultural activists to discuss current debates, both scholastic and social. The Münster Lectures are open to doctoral candidates, post-doc researchers, humanities students, and the general public. The Münster Lectures aim to strengthen not only the interdisciplinary exchange among members of the university, but also bridges the gap between the university and the city of Münster.

Jennifer Kamau from International Women* Space Berlin will share her story of being a refugee woman in Germany and give a talk on her work as a political activist. Jennifer Kamau’s talk will be complimented by Urvashi Butalia's talk. Urvashi Butalia co-founded Kali for Women in 1984 and in 2003, Zubaan, has over 35 years of experience in feminist and independent publishing. She has been long involved in the women’s movement in India, and is a well-known writer, both in academia and in the literary world. These two talks will be followed by a conversation between the two speakers. The Münster Lectures are free and open to the public.


Panel 1: Theory

The first panel will discuss the concepts of silence (silere and tacere) which revolve around the paradigms of (a-)representability, (a-)temporality, (a-)historicity, and (a-)teleology. Under what ideological premises can silence be considered subversive and/or oppressive? Does the concept of silence require a rethinking of temporality? If silence is understood as a withdrawal from the sphere of semantics (or meaning), what consequences does this have on the processes of signification and representation that allow to address injustices? How does silence remain politically relevant today given its former exclusiveness to the tragic hero? Would it be possible to rethink the primacy of speaking over silence, or meaning over performativity?

Panel 2: Poetics

The second panel focuses on works of art in search of a poetics which transcends the mere re/presentation of silence. This panel is deeply interested in the various functions that silence partakes in works of art, which are reflected in the formal/structural/narrative strategies that it employs. Does silence merely conceal the inappropriable, hinting towards negativity in language? Does silence function as a residual manifestation of what is sayable, or does silence hint at the need for a re-understanding of language and signification? Are there any commonalities between mediality and silence? How does the concept of silence interact with ideas of genres? If the subject is created by the instance of speech, how does a work of art give accounts of non-subjects (of silenced subalterns or those who prefer not to speak)?

Panel 3: Politics

The third panel will interrogate the ethical and political implications of the aforementioned panels: Does silence lead to new ethical paradigms or does it ask for reactionary political concepts of tragedy and necessity? Can an adequate understanding of silence articulate community and commonalities outside the primacy of “thetical” language and positive law, beyond normative and imperative approaches of community-building based on exclusion and the interminably marginal? Can silence constitute a bridge towards thinking about postidentity, or does it remain a mode of concealment of injustices and unbridgeable differences?

Student Conference

On July 27, the participants of the summer school will be asked to present their work-inprogress on the topic. The conferences will be divided in three panels: theory, poetics and politics, which will be moderated by two speakers each. The call for abstracts is now closed. We are not accepting any paper presentations. We welcome you to register as a regular participant. (Spaces are limited)

Concluding Remarks

The final day, July 29, will conclude the summer school with a roundtable discussion among all the participants.


To apply for a participation seat, fill out the registration information on the registration page of our website:


The Summer School is open to doctoral students, post-doctoral researchers and advanced MA students working in the humanities of all disciplines of cultural studies, philosophy, history, literature, political science, sociology, and related fields of research.



Events: Münster Lectures, Summer School 2022: “Tacet ad Libitum! Towards a poetics and politics of silence.”

Dates: 24-29 July 2022

Location: WWU Münster, Germany

Organizers: Hector Feliciano, yashka, Michael Aaron Mason

Language: English

Registration: Fee 100€ (not including accommodation)


Twitter: @sigetics


Contact: Organizational Committee,