CfP: "Was sollen wir tun?": Reading Dürrenmatt in the Twenty-First Century (GSA 2021, Swiss Studies Network)

Peter Meilaender's picture
Type: 
Call for Papers
Date: 
February 8, 2021
Location: 
Indiana, United States
Subject Fields: 
European History / Studies, German History / Studies, Humanities, Literature, Modern European History / Studies

 

Call for Papers: Swiss Studies

At the 2021 GSA Conference in Indianapolis, Sept. 30-Oct. 3, 2021

 

“Was sollen wir tun?”:

Reading Dürrenmatt in the Twenty-First Century

 

The Swiss Studies Network announces its call for papers for the 2021 annual conference of the GSA in Indianapolis, IN, Sept. 30-Oct. 3, 2021.  Founded in 2012, the Swiss Studies Network seeks to promote the study of Switzerland from a variety of disciplinary perspectives, including--but not limited to--history, political science, literature, business and economics, cultural studies, theology, and linguistics.

"[Der Zugführer schrie] noch einmal, nun schon weit oben im Korridor, sich mit Ellbogen und Schenkeln gegen die Metallwände stemmend, doch wie sich die Maschine weiter hinabsenkte, um nun in fürchterlichem Sturz dem Innern der Erde entgegenzurasen, so daß der Zugführer in seinem Schacht direkt über dem Vierundzwanzigjährigen hing, der am Grunde der Maschine auf dem silbernen Fenster des Führerraumes lag, das Gesicht nach unten, ließ seine Kraft nach.... Was sollen wir tun? schrie der Zugführer durch das Tosen der ihnen entgegenschnellenden Tunnelwände hindurch dem andern ins Ohr.... Was sollen wir tun? schrie der Zugführer noch einmal...." (“Der Tunnel,” 1952)

"In der Wurstelei unseres Jahrhunderts, in diesem Kehraus der weißen Rasse, gibt es keine Schuldigen und auch keine Verantwortlichen mehr. Alle können nichts dafür und haben es nicht gewollt. Es geht wirklich ohne jeden. Alles wird mitgerissen und bleibt in irgendeinem Rechen hängen. Wir sind zu kollektiv schuldig, zu kollektiv gebettet in die Sünden unserer Väter und Vorväter." (Theaterprobleme, 1955)

"Uns kommt nur noch die Komödie bei." (Theaterprobleme, 1955)

As we begin the third decade of the twenty-first century, we may also feel tempted to shout--with the conductor at the end of Friedrich Dürrenmatt’s short classic, “Der Tunnel”--“Was sollen wir tun?”  The world seems to be careening out of control at top speed, battered by multiple crises: resurgent extremist ideologies on both right and left, revivals of nationalism and populism, trade wars, unrest over migration, religious conflict, financial crisis, racial tension, climate catastrophe, crowds in the streets, destabilizing communications technologies, great power rivalry, a global pandemic, even an assault on the Capitol in the world’s leading democracy.

Dürrenmatt would, dare we say, feel right at home.  With their distinctive mix of fantasy, morality play, surrealism, philosophical speculation, polemical satire, black humor, and quasi-religious apocalyptic, his writings appear to anticipate the present moment with a kind of disturbing prophetic vision.

To mark the 2021 centenary of his birth, the Swiss Studies Network will organize a series of panels on the theme of reading Dürrenmatt in the 21st century.  We are particularly interested in papers that illustrate the continuing power of Dürrenmatt’s writing by exploring how his work helps us better understand the challenges of our day, or alternatively how those challenges shed new light on Dürrenmatt’s work and help us read him in new ways.  We welcome submissions dealing with all parts of Dürrenmatt’s large body of work, and from any disciplinary perspective.  Papers may be in either English or German.

We will consider proposals for entire panels as well as for individual papers.  Proposals are due by Feb. 8, 2021, and should be sent to Peter Meilaender (peter.meilaender@houghton.edu) and Hans Rindisbacher (hans.rindisbacher@pomona.edu).  Questions can be sent to the same addresses.

Contact Info: 

Peter C. Meilaender, Professor of Political Science, Houghton College, Houghton, NY, USA