Readers and Readings:
Literature and Literaturgeschichte in German Studies

Keynote Speaker and Workshop Leader:
Professor David E. Wellbery, University of Chicago





Constructive readings once seemed to constitute the continuum of literary history: Authors, scholars and ordinary readers, each in his/her own way, produce with their reactions an easily teachable narrative. Our newly-won awareness of ignored traditions, mis-readings, idiosyncrasies, serendipities, isolations, abuses and deconstructions, however, has turned the idea of a peaceful sequence of literary history into the image of a vortex, where connected strains are difficult to detect. What used to be fundamental for any concept of Bildung now seems problematic.

How do we locate literary history as a component of scholarship and teaching in German Studies? How do individual readings — engagements with literature — relate to the project of Literaturgeschichte more generally? How can we meaningfully bring the individual encounter and engagement with literary texts into the broader enterprise of understanding literary history? Or rather, how do conceptions of literary history influence our readings? How does the political intersection of reading and rereading inform the historical negotiations of canon and Erbe? Does the history of literature represent a social struggle for what kinds of literatures, readers, and readings warrant attention? Or is it a critical re-articulation of the relationship between literature and a given historical moment? A shifting set of material practices that link literature, materiality, cultural signification, and social habits? And how much literature is left in Literaturgeschichte? These are some of the questions we seek to explore in the 2015 Binghamton University German Studies Colloquium.

Specific themes might include:


Leser und Lektüren:
Literatur und Literaturgeschichte
in den German Studies

Konstruktive Lektüren schienen einst das Kontinuum der Literaturgeschichte zu konstituieren: Autoren, Akademiker und “einfache” Leser stellten gemeinsam, jeweils auf eigene Weise, ein leicht zu vermittelndes Narrativ her. Unsere neugewonnene Sensibilität für vernachlässigte Traditionen, Ver-Lesungen, Idiosynkrasien, glückliche Zufälle, Entkopplungen, Missbrauch und Dekonstruktionen haben diese Vorstellung einer friedlichen Abfolge jedoch zum Bild eines Strudels hin verwandelt, in dem Kausalketten schwer erkennbar sind. Was einst die Grundlage für jedes denkbare Bildungskonzept war, erscheint nun höchst problematisch.

Wo ist der Ort für Literaturgeschichte in Forschung und Lehre in den German Studies? Wie verhalten sich Einzellektüren — Beschäftigungen mit Literatur — zum Projekt einer “traditionellen Literaturgeschichte” generell? Wie kann die jeweilige Begegnung und Beschäftigung mit literarischen Texten sinnvoll in das Bemühen eingebracht werden, Literaturgeschichte zu verstehen? Beziehungsweise: wie verändern allgemeine historische Konzeptionen unsere spezifischen Lektüren? Welchen Einfluss haben Überschneidungen von Lektüre und Wiederlektüre auf die historischen Absetz- und Klärungsbewegungen von Kanon und Erbe? Was zeigt Literaturgeschichte an: die gesellschaftliche Diskussion darüber, welche Arten von Literatur, Lesern und Lektüren Aufmerksamkeit verdienen? Oder ein kritisches Neuverhandeln der Verbindungen zwischen literarischem Betrieb und einem spezifischen Moment in der Geschichte? Ein bewegliches Heer von Methoden, die Literatur, Realien, kulturelles Wissen und gesellschaftliche Habitus miteinander verbinden? Und wie viel Literatur steckt noch in der neuen Literaturgeschichte? Diese und weitere Fragen wollen wir beim Binghamton University German Colloquium 2015 erörtern.

Mögliche Themen:


BUGSC is made possible by generous support from
the Department of German and Russian Studies,
the Harpur College Dean's Office,
the Binghamton University Alumni Association,
Binghamton University Alumna Doris Braun
and the Wells Family.



Binghamton University is located just outside the city of Binghamton in Vestal, New York along NY route 434 (the Vestal Parkway). The Greater Binghamton Airport (BGM) is a short drive or taxi ride to/from campus.

Bus transportation is also available to and from Binghamton: Both Greyhound and Shortline offer frequent bus service to downtown Binghamton from New York City and other points. The bus trip from New York City takes approximately 3 ½-4 hours (as does the drive). Taxis from the bus station to the Colloquium hotels and the campus are readily available at the bus station. For those traveling back to New York City on Saturday after the workshop concludes, the 4:40 p.m. Greyhound Bus or the 4:10 p.m. Shortline Bus are the best options. (The workshop will end around 3:15 p.m.).

The 2015 Colloquium will take place in the conference space “ES 2008” in the new Engineering and Sciences Building, which is part of our University’s Innovative Technologies Complex at 85 Murray Hill Road. We’ll be in touch soon with more directions – it is walkable from the Quality Inn hotel. From the Quality Inn you can take the campus drive and walk across campus past the Events Center, the West Gym, cross Glen G. Bartle Drive and walk past the East Gym toward Murray Hill Road.  You can reach the Engineering and Sciences Building in 30 minutes and it is not an unpleasant walk in good weather. We will organize car pools and shuttles from the Quality Inn to the Engineering and Sciences Building. We will also be in touch with information on parking for those who want to drive. Here are some initial directions for orientation.


We have reserved a number of rooms for Colloquium participants at the Quality Inn and Suites, located on the Vestal Parkway directly across from the Binghamton University campus at Bunn Hill Road. The Colloquium room rate is $79.95/night (single or double; mention the “Department of German and Russian Studies” when booking) and is available on Thursday, April 23, Friday, April 24 and Saturday, April 25, and Sunday, April 26, 2015.

There is a second option, the Hampton Inn. The Hampton Inn provides reliable shuttle service (airport; campus etc.). The Binghamton University rate there is $97.00 (mention the “Binghamton University German Studies Colloquium" if you book by phone, or use the link provided above).


The registration fee for the 2015 Colloquium is $100 and includes all meals and all coffee/tea breaks during the Colloquium, a Friday evening dinner at PS restaurant after the keynote lecture (cash bar) and the workshop with Professor Wellbery on Saturday. Please make the check for $100 payable to the Binghamton University Foundation and include “German Colloquium Fund 02” in the memo section of the check. Please send your registration to:

Neil Christian Pages
Department of German and Russian Studies
Binghamton University
Box 6000
Binghamton, NY 13902-6000

The deadline for registration is April 1, 2015. Thereafter the registration fee increases to $125.

If you have any questions, please contact the organizers: Neil Christian Pages and Harald Zils.

Information on BUGSC 2014 here