CFP: Reading Celan Today (01.04.21)

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Call for Papers: Reading Celan Today 

Deadline for Abstracts: April 1 

Editors: Natalie Lozinski-Veach and Jason Groves


With Paul Celan’s centenary having drawn to a close, an opportunity to reread his work amidst the acute disasters of the present emerges. Over the course of the past year, in a series of symposia that have taken stock of the poet’s oeuvre and reflected on its immense legacy, Celan’s readers and translators have abundantly testified to the historical gravity and the multiple afterlives of his art. Yet an instant of critical discernment in Celan’s 1960 speech known as The Meridian might be instructive for the renewed urgency of reading Celan otherwise. Weighing different pronunciations of the word Kunst, Celan decisively enunciates it with the “acute accent of the present” (Akut des Heutigen) rather than the “grave accent of the historical” or “the circumflex of the eternal.” This accent, with all of its acute urgency, does not undermine Celan’s poetics of the date, the enduring testimony of his poems to their own unique present. Quite the opposite: precisely in the poem’s insistence on its own “here and now,” “it lets the most essential aspect of the other speak (mitsprechen): its time.” 


Celan’s poems, then, do not only render possible encounters between poet and reader, but also call for conversations over time, bringing together historical moments in and through language in order to evoke resonances that may otherwise go unheard. Such vibrations make themselves felt, among other things, in Celan’s translations of Aimé Césaire’s anti-colonial poetry, relating it to the memory of the Shoah, or in his attunement to the echoes of Nazification in the German language of his day; they resound throughout his later poetry in its concern with current political and scientific events, including the nuclear arms race and Russia’s space program.


Taking Celan at his word, we wish to utter a provocation, a call for responses that sound out how our own present stresses his poetry and his prose. This is a time marked by social and political precarity, racial violence, and environmental crisis, all of which are linked to and have been exacerbated by a catastrophic pandemic. Accordingly, we invite readings of Celan today, readings that pronounce his words with the acute accent of the present, a present whose duration might be as ephemeral as a single day or as immense as the geological period of the Anthropocene and the histories of colonial conquest, white supremacy, extraction, and climate change that it encompasses. Purposefully belated, this call seeks out reverberations marked by dates other than the centenary, moments and events that provoke new readings of Celan, and so speak with his time (mitsprechen), while also speaking to our own. 


Possible topics may include, but are not limited to:

  • Celan’s reception by contemporary writers in and beyond Germany, such as Yoko Tawada, Zafer Şenocak, and J.M. Coetzee
  • Celan’s reception by contemporary artists
  • Translation and/as resonance: reading Celan(‘s) translations
  • Multidirectional and multilingual memory
  • Belatedness and the belated witness 
  • Decolonization and the Shoah
  • Edgelessness of genocide
  • Antisemitism, then and now 
  • Rereading Celan in the Anthropocene
  • Celan’s prosody of his present, now 
  • Strategic presentism, its possibilities and its limits
  • Traumatic memory and deep time


Please send an abstract, in English or German, of around 400 words and a brief bio to Natalie Lozinski-Veach ( and Jason Groves (  by April 1, 2021.  A peer-reviewed journal in German studies has expressed interest in this special issue and will review the collected abstracts, and we expect to be able to notify contributors of the decision by May 1, 2021. If accepted, draft manuscripts of articles between 6,000 and 8,000 words in length, including footnotes, will be due December 1, 2021, and revised, final manuscripts by March 1, 2022. 



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 –