CFP: GSA seminar "Genealogies of Self-Reflection: Writing in the Wake of Trauma"

Leslie Morris Announcement
District of Columbia, United States
Subject Fields
German History / Studies, Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies

German Studies Association Annual Conference

Washington, DC

October 1-4, 2020

Call for Papers for 2020 German Studies Association Seminar  

                      Genealogies of Self-Reflection: Writing in the Wake of Trauma

Building on the “Private Matters: Writing Outside the Margins of the Lebenslauf” seminar (GSA 2018) on memoire and academic writing, this seminar explores forms of critical reflection practiced by colleagues whose family genealogies, sites of origin, and identities have laid the groundwork for their scholarly writing on trauma. We will frame the seminar based on the concept of the “wake” as described in Christina Sharpe’s In the Wake: On Blackness and Being in contrast to Angelika Bammer’s notion of reckoning as enacted in Born After: Reckoning with the German Past (2019).  Bammer recalls how she overcame the “reckoning with her German past,” by taking Adorno’s advice to heart that only “critical reflection” provides a path through the impasse of weighted history and memory. A tour de force of self-reflection and rigorous readings of cultural production, this book offers a point of departure for exploring the trope of critical self-reflection in German studies in order to acknowledge the hidden genealogies that haunt our scholarly texts.


Building on pre-submitted writing samples by participants, who are engaged in work that crosses the boundaries of academic and narrative prose, this seminar will be a writing workshop, in which participants respond to one another’s papers. Having prepared for the seminar by reading the books by Sharpe and Bammer, participants will structure their writing samples around the following guiding questions: What are the forms critical self-reflection might take when one interweaves family histories into one’s academic writing? What form might prose take when collective histories and subjective memories merge? What forms of writing emerge in the wake of discrimination, classification, and exclusion, experienced by colleagues, whose life trajectories are deemed or felt to be non-normative?


This seminar will provide a forum for a diverse range of participants whose “reckoning” with their pasts may be quite distinct from the usual paradigms of transgenerational transmission within “German” pasts and instead encompass multiple genealogies of (family) identities, heritages, and indigeneities.

The seminar will require participants to submit 12-15-page writing excerpts in advance and will focus on workshopping these pieces within the framework of the guiding questions listed in the seminar goals. We welcome participants who would like to share their work at all stages of the writing process.


Please apply by JANUARY 27 on the GSA portal



Leslie Morris (University of Minnesota)

Karen Remmler (My Holyoke College)


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Leslie Morris 

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