CFP: Between Departure and Arrival. Re-assessing the Work of Ilse Aichinger and Helga Michie, London (31.3.2019)

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Between Departure and Arrival
Re-assessing the Work of Ilse Aichinger and Helga Michie


When: 15 – 17 January 2020

Where: The Austrian Cultural Forum, London, and the Institute of Modern Languages Research, University of London

Call for Papers closes 31 March 2019


The twin sisters Ilse Aichinger and Helga Michie have responded to the tremors of the twentieth century through different creative media. Praised for her use of multi-layered symbolism and unusual narrative construction in her novel Die größere Hoffnung (1948) and short stories Spiegelgeschichte (1949) and Der Gefesselte (1953), Aichinger’s work reacts to the persecution she witnessed during the Nazi occupation in Vienna and explores the depths of the human condition. Michie’s Concord (2006), a collection of poems and artwork, offers an abstract depiction of separation and belonging, where her use of symbolism and fragmentation is reflected across both creative forms.

This conference will be the first occasion where their oeuvres in literature and the visual arts will be examined conjointly and considered as reflections of personal experience and in the context of their time. In light of the recent publication of a number of English translations of Ilse Aichinger’s major works (The Greater Hope, 2016; Film and Fate, 2018) and a publication of Helga Michie’s mixed media prints, drawings and etchings (I Am Beginning to Want What I Am, 2018) this conference will allow fresh comparisons and explorations to be made. The resulting volume of papers will be published in 2021, the year that marks the centenary of their birth.

The conference title, ‘between departure and arrival’, evokes one of a cluster of recurring conflicts and motifs governing Aichinger’s and Michie’s work. Unreached destinations, the transience and suspension of meaning, the surreal appearance and disappearance of peripheral figures, the oscillation between life and death, and moments of liminality warrant serious academic investigation. Contributions of a comparative nature would be particularly welcome and may examine, among other topics:

  • the choice and use of artistic medium and language
  • manifestations of trauma and silence
  • issues of migration, motifs of place and displacement
  • structure and symbolism

Confirmed keynote speakers: Professor Rüdiger Görner, Dr Christine Ivanovic, Professor Dolors Sabaté Planes, and Dr Geoff Wilkes.


Presentations should last 20 minutes and will be grouped into panels. Papers may be given in English or in German.

Please send an abstract of no more than 500 words and a short biography (100 words) by email to: Offers of papers must be received by 31 March 2019.


Organising Committee: Dr Andrea Capovilla (IBC), Petra Freimund (ACF), Stephanie Homer (IMLR), Jane Lewin (IMLR), Dr Godela Weiss-Sussex (IMLR), Gail Wiltshire (UQ).


This conference is generously supported by the Austrian Cultural Forum, the Ingeborg Bachmann Centre at the IMLR, and the University of Queensland


Institute of Modern Languages Research

School of Advanced Study | University of London




Redaktion: Constanze Baum – Lukas Büsse – Mark-Georg Dehrmann – Nils Gelker – Markus Malo – Alexander Nebrig – Johannes Schmidt

Diese Ankündigung wurde von H-GERMANISTIK [Mark-Georg Dehrmann] betreut –