GSA 2023 Panel: "Autobiographical and Autofictional Writing in the Works of Günter Grass" (15 March 2023)

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Call for Papers
March 15, 2023
Subject Fields: 
German History / Studies, Literature, Modern European History / Studies

Günter Grass’s reservations towards the genre of autobiography are well documented. In a 2003 interview with Der Spiegel, Grass stated: “Wenn ich eine Möglichkeit sähe, mich gewissermaßen in Variation zu erzählen – das wäre vielleicht reizvoll. Aber eigentlich mag ich Autobiographisches in der verschlüsselten Form der Fiktion, des Romans, lieber.” (Doerry und Hage 2003, 144) Despite (or maybe because of) this skepticism, the autobiographical and autofictional are ever present in his works, not just in the so-called ‚Autobiographical Trilogy‘ (Grimms Wörter, Die Box and Beim Häuten der Zwiebel) and in Die Blechtrommel, but also in texts like Das Treffen in Telgte, Im Krebsgang, Mein Jahrhundert and others. 

This panel aims to engage with recent developments in autobiographical theory, particularly the discourse surrounding the concept of autofictional as a mode of writing rather than a distinct genre: in their recently published volume, Alexandra Effe und Hannie Lawlor (2022, 4) explore the concept’s widespread attraction, defining it as “a combination of real and invented elements; onomastic correspondence between author and character or narrator; and stylistic or linguistic experimentation.” How do these and similar characteristics manifest in the writing of Günter Grass? What insights into his works can be gained from the engagement with new developments in autobiographical and autofictional theory? And what, in turn, can Günter Grass’s texts contribute to better understand the complex and intriguing concept of the autofictional as well as its relation to autobiographical writing?

If you are interested in participating in this panel at the 47. Annual Conference of the German Studies Association in Montréal, Canada, please send your abstract 350-500 words together with a short biographical note as well as any questions to Christian Baier ( Submission deadline is March 15th, 2023.


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