Call for Papers: Intertextuality and Revolution: Tragedy, Farce, Repetition
The German Studies Association:
Forty-fourth Annual Conference in Washington DC (Crystal City), October 1 to 4, 2020
Deadline for Submissions: January 25, 2020
In 1599 in London, washing his hands in the tyrant’s blood, the revolutionary Cassius declares: “How many ages hence / Shall this our lofty scene be acted over / In states unborn and accents yet unknown?” Almost exactly two hundred years later on a Weimar stage, in a new tongue and in the shadow of revolutionary France, Cassius repeats: “In wie entfernter Zeit / Wird man dies hohe Schauspiel wiederholen, / In neuen Zungen und mit fremdem Pomp!” Performances of revolution confront us with the specter of both literary and historical structures of repetition. In Georg Büchner’s Dantons Tod, quotations of the political sloganeering of the French Revolution attest to the inevitability of appropriating and repurposing the language of revolutions past, thus highlighting the anxiety that any performance of revolutionary practice might end up presenting a mere resurgence of familiar historical patterns. Marx’s 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte promises to deliver us from the nightmare of historical repetition, and yet confronts us with a text dense in allusions both historical and literary. For Marx, then, the path to envisioning a new political and social order leads through a reevaluation of the allusive structures of history and literature.
The aim of this panel is to explore the logic of reflection and repetition in the intertextual representations of revolution. By repeating tropes and gestures from previous rebellions, revolutions are “fathered” by historical parallels. What weird incestuous violence is at work when, in the words of Büchner’s Danton, “the revolution, like Saturn, devours its own children”? This famous bon mot itself is repeated in mutating variations both before and after it is uttered in Dantons Tod. Do all intertextual acts, by repeating previous speech and writing, involve a kind of revolution – a cyclical logic of both revolt and return?
We welcome papers attending to the circular orbits and mirroring refractions of revolution. Possible points of focus include but are not limited to:
- Intersections between theories of intertextuality and revolution
- Intertextual reflections between historical and literary representations of specific revolutions from ancient Rome to contemporary Hong Kong
- Intersections between theories of repetition and theories of revolution (e.g., Nietzsche’s eternal recurrence in Hannah Arendt’s On Revolution; or Derrida’s repetition and difference in Marx’s claims about tragedy and farce on the stage of history)
- Intersections between theories of repetition and performance, especially through the lens of revolution
- Intertextuality and performance, especially in terms of the historical revolutionary acts
- Mirroring, reflection, and revolution
- Intersections between translation theory and revolution
- The dynamics of paternity and psychoanalysis in intertextual revolution
- Intertextuality and revolution in specific texts by J.W. Goethe, Georg Büchner, Heinrich Heine, Karl Marx, Walter Benjamin, Rosa Luxemburg, Hannah Arendt, and others