Silence – Catastrophe – Crisis. A Graduate Student Symposium

Hector Feliciano Soto Discussion

The University of Münster’s Summer School “Tacet ad Libitum!” organizational committee is hosting a graduate student symposium, which will take place on December 2nd and 3rd 2021, as a preamble to the Summer School on the “Poetics and Politics of Silence” in July 2022. This event aims to open an academic dialogue and create a forum to exchange ideas, present original research and establish a network between graduate students interested in the topic of silence. Papers which consider the (ir)rationales and mechanics of silence from poietical, political and/or philosophical perspectives will be given priority. Drawing distinctions between silence (silere) and reticence (tacere), we want to interrogate the myriad ways in which voices are kept (willingly or unwillingly) below the surface during moments of emergency. Given recent socio-geopolitical events, we will interrogate the relationship between silence, catastrophe, and crisis from literary, political and philosophical perspectives. As a starting point it may be helpful to consider how the Covid-19 pandemic has enriched billionaires while “essential workers'' have borne the brunt of the infections. The global south also continues to lack advocacy for vaccine distribution, and all of this is cast under the shadow of the oncoming catastrophe of climate change and the already-present fact of climate refugees whose voices are still not being heard in the marketplace of global information.

We are particularly interested in the roles silence takes in hegemonic logics and mechanisms of exclusion. Our symposium will address the following questions: What part does silence play in catastrophe and crisis? Do technocratic (current medical and political discourses of health, sanity, “common sense”, sacrifice, and others) occlude counter-discourses (about language, knowledge, and ethics) among the humanities? Also, how do catastrophe and crisis create, (re)constitute, destruct or consolidate discourses on (de)subjectification, by which means, and/or toward which ends? Do catastrophes and crises enforce the need to articulate a new ethics of raising questions and addressing epistemo-critical paradigms in academia?

The symposium will take place using a hybrid format (following all state and university regulations), thus enabling participants to take part either on site or remotely (via Zoom). The symposium will take place over a two-day period, opening with a keynote speech by Prof. Nikita Dhawan, the Chair in Political Theory and History of Ideas at TU Dresden. A roundtable discussion will be held on the second day where participants will present their work. We welcome guests to join us on WWU’s campus for the second day. Unfortunately, we will not be able to provide financial support for travel expenses. The language of the symposium will be English; presentations in German are also acceptable.

Please submit a short abstract of approximately 250-300 words of your research project by 29 October 2021 to

For further information about this event and the Summer School “Tacet ad Libitum!”, visit

Graduate Student Symposium Organizational Committee

Héctor Feliciano, PhD Student at the Graduate School Practices of Literature (

Michael Aaron Mason, PhD Student at the Graduate School Practices of Literature (