RESCHEDULED: 17th Annual German Graduate Symposium: Realities
17th Annual German Graduate Symposium, 17 October 2020 (Rescheduled)
Christ Church, University of Oxford
Confirmed keynote speaker: Prof Dirk Göttsche, University of Nottingham
Call for Papers: Realities
In and through works of fiction, reality might be represented, reshaped, produced and contested. Many periods in the history of literature and art have been defined by their relation to reality. Realism, Naturalism, and New Objectivity, for instance, share a view of reality as a positive objective of representation, whereas Symbolism, Dadaism, and other avant-garde movements are said to challenge this representational reference. Different media entered into competition and various genres have been tested in the attempt to (arguably) capture reality most authentically. The question of reality and its representations has been a long-discussed issue in Cultural and Literary studies. Erich Auerbach’s Mimesis (1946) traces The Representation of Reality in Western Literature from Homer’s Odyssey to 20th century modernist writing and, in this, has set a touchstone for future analyses of all kinds of realisms. Roland Barthes, on the other hand, avoids the question of mimetic representation by tracing his Reality Effect (1968) back to the use of particular literary devices. The problems of representing reality have also been prominently discussed in postcolonial studies and anthropology, which call into question ethnocentric concepts of reality. Eduardo Viveiros de Castro’s account of the Amerindian Perspectivism (1998), for instance, confronts the Western relativism with an Amerindian multinaturalism, the assumption that there are not different representations of one reality, but one common representation of different realities. Not least the advent of ‘fake news’ in recent years has shown that the notion of ‘reality’ invariably invites disputes and calls into question the independence of facts and interpretations. Realities are thus not limited to representation, but more and more dictate their own processes of production and perception.
The Symposium aims to map this conflicted and complex relationship of reality and its cultural representations. We welcome papers from German Studies that explore what could tentatively be called a ‘poetics of reality’.
Possible topics could include but are not limited to:
- (opposing) terms such as reality/truth/authenticity and fiction/fantasy/illusion
- competition of realistic media (text, photography, film etc.)
- production and interpretation of reality in history of science and scholarship
- conflicting versions of reality: counter-discourses, writing back
- forms and traditions of realism in works of fiction
- particular genres of realistic/factual representation (reportage, documentary, non-fiction books etc.)
- counterfactual narratives
- poetic programmes on reality, mimesis and representation
- realistic styles and techniques, reality effects
- realities in memories and memoires
- ideologies of/in realism
We particularly encourage papers with interdisciplinary approaches from literature, history, philosophy, cultural, and media studies. Papers should be no more than 30 minutes in length. We look forward to receiving abstracts of up to 250 words by Monday, 31 August 2020.
Lucas-Jan Dörre and Andreas Schmid