Sacrifice, Myth, and Ritual in German Arts and Letters, 1800 - Present (GSA 2020)
GSA Annual Conference
October 1-4, 2020, Washington D.C., USA
Deadline: January 26, 2020 at 11:59pm (EST)
Description of Seminar: Sacrifice, Myth, and Ritual in German Arts and Letters, 1800 - Present
In the wake of WWI, literary scholarship as well as philosophy and critical theory in the German realm became acutely interested in violence, and this interest in turn became bound up with the topic of sacrifice. Importantly, these developments occurred against the backdrop of a “long” 19th century in which mythical impulses--sometimes but not always linked to violence--had emerged in Romantic arts and letters (e.g., Novalis, Schelling, Hölderlin, Cornelius), developed throughout the literature of the Vor- and Nachmärz (e.g., Droste-Hülshoff, Gotthelf, Storm), reverberated in neo-Romantic contexts (e.g., Landauer, Hauptmann, the George-Kreis), and continued well into the poetry and prose of 20th-century modernism. This seminar explores the nature of these literary, artistic, and epistemological preoccupations: we invite participants from multiple disciplines (literature, art, religion, philosophy, etc.) to consider how the concepts of sacrifice, myth, and ritual operate across multiple discourses and periods, from Romanticism to (post)modernism.
Goals and Procedures of Seminar
This seminar aims to bring together a community of scholars from various disciplines whose research engages topics at the nexus of sacrifice, myth, and ritual within modern culture (broadly construed). Contributions might address, but are by no means limited to, questions and topics such as:
- The “aesthetics” of sacrifice/ritual/myth; do these categories ever serve a formal or even structural role in literature or art in addition to a thematic one?
- The function of sacrifice, myth, or ritual as philosophical motifs; how have thinkers such as Hegel, Nietzsche, Benjamin, etc. utilized these categories in different ways? (As topics? As tropes?...)
- The epistemological relationship between these three cultural forms; does one necessarily precede or succeed the other, as figures such as Freud and Girard have posited, or are there different examples of how they relate?
- Political dimensions/ramifications of these three categories;
- The iconography of sacrifice/myth/ritual; how do these phenomena emerge in and/or animate the visual arts?
- Theories of secularization, Entzauberung, de-mythologization, etc.
The seminar will center upon the discussion of pre-circulated, conference-length papers in order to bring participants’ research into a focused dialogue. In addition, the organizers will compile and distribute a brief compendium of excerpted theoretical texts (e.g., Schlegel, Rede ueber die Mythologie; Kierkegaard, Fear and Trembling; Freud, Das Unbehagen in der Kultur; Adorno/Horkheimer, Dialektik der Aufklärung; Girard, Violence and the Sacred; Blumenberg, Arbeit am Mythos; Bataille, The Accursed Share; Agamben, Homo Sacer, etc.). Seminar participants will meet daily to discuss their own contributions alongside the assigned supplemental readings. The group will transition between plenary sessions and smaller breakout sessions that will have been determined by the topic of participants’ papers and the overarching theme for that day.
Please apply to the seminar via the GSA portal, www.xcdsystem.com/gsa. Include a brief abstract of your proposed contribution (max. 300 words) and a brief vita. The deadline is January 26, 2020, at 11:59pm (EST). Contact conveners Daniel DiMassa (email@example.com) and Alexander Sorenson (firstname.lastname@example.org) with any questions.