NeMLA 2018 Panel: The Form and History of the German Novella

Christopher Chiasson's picture
Call for Papers
April 12, 2018 to April 15, 2018
Pennsylvania, United States
Subject Fields: 
German History / Studies, Cultural History / Studies, Literature, Teaching and Learning

NeMLA 2018 - Pittsburgh, PA, April 12-15, 2018

CFP: Panel "The Form and History of the German Novella"

Deadline for abstracts: September 30, 2017

Goethe famously defined the novella - one of the most popular genres of 19th-century German literature - as the presentation of an "unerhörte Begebenheit," or "unheard-of event." This panel wants to examine the conjunction between the novella's alleged formal feature of eventfulness and the social fact of its popularity. One potential avenue of exploration is thus broadly historical: what are the material and medial conditions that drive the novella's popularity? To what extent can the novellas that appear singly or even serialized in magazines be said to be the same genre as Boccaccio or Cervantes? Is Goethe's definition in fact a re-definition? Another set of questions emerges from formal and narratological concerns: if Goethe is right (though we are also prepared to entertain the thought that he is wrong), how does the novella's eventfulness manifest itself? Could recent narratological work on events, eventfulness, and narrativity (e.g., Wolf Schmid) shed light on the novella, or vice versa? As the frame story migrates from without to within the novella, does the event become the event of narration? A third approach concerns the novella's boundaries vis-à-vis other genres. Scholars have variously argued that the novella is modeled on tragedy, fairy tale, legend, or case study, themselves popular genres in 19th-century German literature. Is one of these models more persuasive - or foundational - than the others, and does it have to do with the structuring of an event? Why are these more likely candidates than the novel or the short story, which are the genres usually considered to "border" the novella? We welcome papers that address questions and concerns along these lines in readings of individual novellas. Papers that concern teaching novellas in advanced language courses or comparative analyses with other literatures (e.g. Ross Chambers' Story and Situation) are also welcome.

For questions, please e-mail Chris Chiasson ( or Anita Lukic ( Please submit abstracts directly to the website

by September 30, 2017.

Contact Info: 

Chris Chiasson

4601 Bayard Street

Apt. 803

Pittsburgh, PA 15213

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