CFP: Fictions of Reproduction, Berkeley, 24-25 February 2023 (Deadline 15 January 2023)

Verena Wolf's picture


Call for Papers: Fictions of Reproduction

An Interdisciplinary German Studies Conference

The University of California, Berkeley


DATES: February 24-25, 2023



In a 1926 article for the Berliner Tageblatt, the journalist Gabriele Tergit wrote of a court case in which four people were charged with violating the Weimar Republic’s laws prohibiting abortion. She called her story “A Modern Gretchen Tragedy”—an invocation of Goethe’s heroine Margarete, incarcerated for infanticide following an unwanted pregnancy. Tergit’s piece, of chilling relevance in our current moment, is a reminder that cultural discourse on controlling reproduction is inextricable from fictional traditions. In the wake of the Dobbs decision, and the crop of authoritarian fictions it has generated on the nature of personhood and reproduction, we thus find ourselves drawn to asking questions about reproduction—human and not—in works of print and audiovisual fiction produced, set in, or somehow involving the German-speaking world. Reproduction, and the control thereof, are particularly salient given Germany’s past as a fascist and colonial power, its (contested) present as a nation of migrants, and its status as a site of vehement opposition to nuclear energy. The anxieties that surround reproduction—about race, national identity, citizenship, fertility, and health—are relevant to all these discourses.

In addition, we are interested in narratives of non-biological reproduction in the relationship of artwork to automation. As the creator-effacing power of artificial intelligence upholds and shatters existing categories of genesis, we invite submissions that negotiate the nature of artistic (re)production, and help to continue a conversation as old as any medium itself.

We welcome submissions from a variety of fields, not limited to, but including, literary studies, modern languages, history, linguistics, sociology, anthropology, film & media studies, gender studies, science and technology studies, and all area studies. We will accept abstracts in English, Spanish, French, German, and Portuguese; conference papers should be in English or German. Abstracts and short biographical information should be sent by JANUARY 15th, 2023 to Ambika Athreya (, Verena Wolf ( or Elise Volkmann (

Possible suggestions for inquiry include, but certainly can (and are encouraged to!) deviate from:


• How do narrative techniques control the agency of protagonists involved in a birth?

• How were reproductive interventions portrayed in literature, cinema, and other media?

• In what ways does reproduction feature in utopian/dystopian fictions?

• What are literary negotiations regarding the ambit of the state in reproductive decisions?

• How do stories of climate change relate to ideas of aberration and deformity in reproduction?

• How was Chernobyl reflected in German narratives of the human body? How do links between radioactivity and reproductive health appear in such narratives?

• How are metaphors of reproduction and fertility used in the poetics of nation-building?

• How did reproduction feature in German (and other) “colonial fantasies”?

• How do the languages of technical and biological reproduction align (or not)?

• How do new technologies challenge notions of artistic creativity and “offspring”?