CFP: Laocoon Beyond the Crossroads

Martin Wagner Announcement
Pennsylvania, United States
Subject Fields
German History / Studies, Literature, Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Classical Studies

CFP: Laocoon Beyond the Crossroads 

A Panel Sponsored by the Lessing Society

Modern Languages Association (MLA) Annual Convention, Philadelphia, Jan 4-7 2023

Lessing's seminal treatise on aesthetics, Laokoon: oder über die Grenzen der Malerei und der Poesie (Laocoon: or On the Limits of Painting and Poetry, 1766), has often and profitably been read as a meeting place. In the introduction to their 2017 volume Rethinking Lessing’s Laokoon, for instance, Avi Lifschitz and Michael Squire describe the essay as “a liminal text that has helped define ‘modernity’ against an ‘ancient’ alter ego.” But at the same time that the treatise is a place of threshold, the text is also on the move. Not only do the visual arts and the linguistic arts come together to find their respective "boundaries" in this text, but artworks from a wide array of times, cultures, and traditions encounter each other and take off again, sometimes in very unexpected directions. Lessing himself foregrounds this meandering method and stages himself at critical junctures as a walker on a path: “Ich lenke mich vielmehr wieder in meinen Weg, wenn ein Spaziergänger anders einen Weg hat” (XX). This is a text in which intertexts collide and careen off along new trajectories. The tension between place and time, location and motion, furthermore, is central to the treatise’s theoretical claims. Lessing’s Laokoon, despite its statuary emblem, never stands still. For this panel, we invite papers that host, foster, and interrogate these intertextual journeys, and the phenomena of aesthetic motion. 

Specific topics may include, but are not limited to:

· Aesthetics of Motion (kinēsis) and Change (metabolē)

· Intertextual influences on Lessing’s Laocoon

· Intertextual influences of Lessing’s Laocoon on subsequent works

· Media Studies (Visual and Linguistic arts)

· Reception Studies

· Performance Studies

· Affect Studies

· Trauma Studies

· Ekphrasis

Deadline for abstracts: Monday, March 20th, 2023. Please send abstracts of no more than 300 words along with a short bio to Ellwood Wiggins ( and Martin Wagner (

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