CFP: Fifteenth Southeast German Studies Workshop – Tuscaloosa, AL, February 2023

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Call For Papers: Fifteenth Southeast German Studies Workshop – Tuscaloosa, AL, February 2023

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23-24 February 2023, Tuscaloosa, AL

Deadline: 1 November 2022

The Fifteenth SEGSC Workshop in 2023 will be hosted by the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa in cooperation with the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the University of Alabama at Huntsville, and Spring Hill College.  It will bring together scholars from across the Southeast in all disciplines with strong interests in the language, literature, history, culture, music, film, and political structures of the German-speaking lands.  The workshop will revolve around invigorating and collegial discussions of the participants’ short, pre-circulated position papers. The meeting eschews formal panel presentations in favor of more democratic group discussions of these papers. The position papers will address one of the workshop’s three central themes, reflecting subjects that have animated recent scholarship in the field. 

The Southeast German Studies Workshop encourages submissions that span all stages of progress, from exploratory position papers on a particular topic, to projects in their initial stages of development, to papers based on (nearly) completed and/or published work. Above all, we are looking for submissions that prompt fruitful discussions and inspire further dialogue among colleagues – productive speculation and intellectual risk-taking for the sake of provoking conversation are warmly encouraged!

The 2023 workshop’s themes (full descriptions provided below) are “The Holy Roman Empire: History and Legacies;” “Visions of the Future in German Culture and History;” and “Germans in the South: Migrations, Science, Manufacturing, and Culture.” The keynote lecture will be given by Professor Kira Thurman, Associate Professor of History, German Studies, and Musicology at the University of Michigan

Prospective participants from the full array of disciplines whose work touches on all areas of the German-speaking world from the medieval period to the present day are invited to submit a short paper abstract (150 words) and indicate which of the three themes they wish to address. Submissions should include name, affiliation, position, and contact details. The deadline for submissions is Tuesday 1 November 2022. Selected workshop participants will be informed by mid-November. These participants are then expected to submit their three-page position papers to the organizers by 15 January 2023. The Consortium will cover one night’s lodging in Tuscaloosa and the workshop’s meals. For more information about the conference, or to submit a proposal, please email the organizing committee at dlriches@ua.edu.

 

For the 2023 SEGSC Workshop Organizing Committee:

Matthew Feminella

David Johnson

Molly Johnson

Jimmy Mixson

Daniel Riches

Alexandria Ruble

Jonathan Wiesen

 

Panel #1: Holy Roman Empire: History and Legacies

Among the few things as complex and contradictory as the Holy Roman Empire are the uses and misuses to which its varied legacies have been put.  The Empire was an enigma even in its own time, simultaneously the fulcrum of a deeply-felt if ineffable sense of Latin Christian unity (the res publica Christiana) presided over by the senior crowned head of Europe, and a sui generis political entity of baffling intricacy and at times perplexing inefficiency that even the brightest and most informed minds struggled to wrap their heads around.  The famous statements by the seventeenth-century German intellectual Samuel Pufendorf that the Empire was a monstrum horrendum (a statement that, to be fair, was expressed with far more affection than one might assume!) or the French philosophe Voltaire that it was neither holy nor Roman nor an empire attest to the confusion and frustration that accompanied efforts to make sense of a polity that defied preformed categories of analysis.  The Empire sprawled–even by the more capacious standards of its day–across all sense of geographic and linguistic boundaries.  Rousseau praised the Empire as the lynchpin of European order; nineteenth- and twentieth-century Prusso-German nationalist historians reviled it as the weak, ineffective, and nationally impure roadblock to German national unity; and Nazis situated the First Reich as the implicit (and at times explicit) epochal referent for their own Third Reich.  Generations of scholars have assessed the Empire against the model of the modern nation-state and judged it deficient, while more recent scholarship has praised its durable and surprisingly effective mechanisms of conflict resolution and the preservation of local difference.  Contemporary commentators on the future of the European Union have even turned to the Empire as a model of federative integration uniting (yet not dominating) an array of nationalities, language groups, religions, and local/regional forms of social and political expression, while figures on the extreme right have incorporated its figures and symbols into their own medievalist narratives.

This panel welcomes papers from all disciplines regarding all aspects of the Holy Roman Empire across the long expanse of its existence and its various legacies.  We are especially eager to bring into dialogue scholars who study the history, literature, art, political structures, and culture of the Empire from its early medieval origins to its dissolution in 1806 with those who focus on the Empire‘s afterlives and representations from the nineteenth century to the present day.  The Southeast German Studies Workshop encourages submissions that span all stages of progress, from exploratory position papers on a particular topic, to projects in their initial stages of development, to papers based on (nearly) completed and/or published work. Above all, we are looking for submissions that prompt fruitful discussions and inspire further dialogue among colleagues–productive speculation and intellectual risk-taking for the sake of provoking conversation are warmly encouraged!

Possible topics for this panel could include (but are by no means limited to):

  • medievalism: modern uses and abuses of the image and memory of the medieval Empire
  • the Empire and models of federalism
  • the image of the Empire and discussions of the nature and future of the European Union
  • the Empire and Mack Walker’s concept of the ‘German hometown’
  • methodological challenges in writing about the Empire
  • res publica Christiana – the German lands in/and universal Christendom/Europe
  • Jewish life in the Holy Roman Empire
  • the image of the Empire in German Romanticism
  • the Empire and religious and political reformations
  • Imperial patriotism vs. German national identity
  • the intertwined histories and legacies of the three Reiche: Holy Roman Empire/Kaiserreich/Third Reich

 

Panel #2: Visions of the Future

Since the Middle Ages, few things have captivated the minds of the German-speaking world more than the future. From the prophetic visions of Hildegard von Bingen to the EU’s reconceptualization of purpose post-Brexit, the German-speaking world has reacted to the future’s unpredictability with visions of possible outcomes. Sometimes such visions provide models and projections intended to comfort against the harsh reality that all impending events are ultimately unknowable. Other times speculation as to the untold possibilities of the future represent an ideal from which the present can be critiqued, and societal change can be effected.

The 2023 SEGS Workshop seeks participants for this panel who will explore aspects of the German-speaking world’s long tradition of envisioning the future––from the Middle Ages to the present. This workshop envisions itself as interdisciplinary and hopes to draw submissions from a variety of fields: history, German literature, cultural studies, political science, musicology, among others. By drawing from a wide range of disciplines as well as from over 1000 years of history in the German-speaking world, this workshop views itself as an opportunity to bring seemingly disparate phenomena into dialogue in innovative and productive ways. The SEGS Workshop series encourages submissions that are in their initial stages of development––less polished research papers and more position papers that prompt discussion of the ideas in question.

Topics for responses include but are not limited too: 

  • Apocalypticism and Eschatology from the Middle Ages to the present day
  • Future of pandemic responses in a post-COVID German-speaking countries
  • Visions of the future in the Age of Reformations
  • Utopian/Dystopian depictions of the German-speaking world
  • German science fiction
  • Visions of German national unity before 1871
  • Visions of reunification after 1945
  • Fantasies of German colonialism before 1914
  • Afro-German Futurisms
  • East German depictions of the future
  • The Green Party and visions of environmental catastrophe
  • Future changes in the multicultural demography of German-speaking countries
  • Visions of the future in German Modernist literature
  • National Socialist futurisms
  • Olaf Scholz’ Zeitenwende speech and the future of Germany’s security and energy policy
  • The futurist conceptions of reproduction, gender, and childhood
  • Future challenges of social market economies in German-speaking countries 
  • Visions of the future of print culture in German-speaking countries

 

Panel #3: Germans in the South: Migrations, Science, Manufacturing, and Culture

While we typically associate German migration to the Americas with the Midwest, Germans have also been settling in the “US South” for centuries. In the eighteenth century, Protestant German speakers from Salzburg and southern German lands settled in colonial Georgia. In 1866, the German émigré Johann Gottfried Cullmann arrived in Alabama and founded the town of Cullman. The German names of streets, parks, and the annual Oktoberfest held there show the continuing reminders of this German past. German Jews have also migrated to the South, and the presence of synagogues in southern cities remind us of this ongoing history. In the 1950s, “Operation Paperclip,” begun in El Paso, Texas, brought German rocket scientists, led by Wernher von Braun, to Huntsville, Alabama, and this contributed to the transformation of Huntsville from a cotton and textile manufacturing town into the sprawling “Rocket City,” home to defense, space, and increasingly, the biotech industries. And in the last thirty years, a flurry of German companies have established facilities and operations in multiple southern states. Daimler-Benz started the rush of German firms into the South in 1992 with its automobile factory in Vance, Alabama. Subsequently, BMW has contributed to the flourishing economy of the area around Spartanburg, North Carolina, and Airbus has established a civilian aircraft manufacturing facility near Mobile, Alabama. Dozens of German supply firms have in the meantime likewise come to the US South in the wake of these larger companies. 

In the midst of these German migrations, the South has grappled with the legacies of slavery, the ongoing resonance of Jim Crow policies and laws, the struggle for Civil Rights, and debates about multiple cultural, social, and economic issues. Germans have had various levels of complicity and contrasting levels of engagement with these events and issues over time, ranging from silent acceptance and support of Jim Crow laws to efforts to contribute to progressive change. The recent influx of German firms into the South has both taken advantage of lower labor costs and state-provided economic incentives and contributed to rising living standards in the regions where they operate. 

This panel seeks to provide opportunities for contributors to explore the scope, motivations, and ramifications for Germans coming to what is now the Southeastern United States. This workshop envisions itself as interdisciplinary and hopes to draw submissions from the fields of history, German literature, cultural studies, political science, musicology, among others. The SEGS Workshop series encourages submissions that span all stages of progress, from position papers on a particular topic, to projects in their initial stages of development, to papers based on (nearly) completed and/or published work. Above all, we are looking for submissions that prompt fruitful discussions and inspire further dialogue among colleagues.  

Possible frameworks for topics include, but are not limited to: 

  • German communities in the Colonial South
  • Relationship between the German lands and the Confederacy and US Government during the Civil War
  • Ethnic Germans and the Civil War
  • Nineteenth-century Migrations into the US South
  • Texas Germans and the Texas German Language Project 
  • German-Jewish migration, presence, and engagement in the US South
  • German reception and appropriation of Southern musical forms (Jazz, Blues, Country) 
  • German POW Camps in World War II
  • Labor costs, German firms, and the US South
    • “Right-to-work” states as preferred destinations for German firms
    • Unionization efforts at German automobile factories in the US South
  • The complex history of race and continuing racial issues in the US South
  • The concentrated efforts of states to lure German firms and the Re-Branding the US South 
    • The positioning and selling of German companies as heroes of Foreign Direct Investment in the South. 
  • The cultural imagination of the US South vis-à-vis Germans over time
  • German perceptions of the US South in literature, film, and music
  • The contested memorialization of German Rocket Scientists in Alabama
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