2016 Colloquium Participants


Gizem Arslan is currently Visiting Assistant Professor of German Studies at the Catholic University of America. She completed her Ph.D. in German Studies at Cornell University in 2013. She is working on a book project on the interlinks between translation and the materiality of written signs in the wake of the Holocaust, entitled Metamorphoses of the Letter: From Translation to Transformation. Her essay “Undivided Waters” addresses the spatial configuration of Europe in Turkish-German author Emine Sevgi Özdamar’s Berlin Trilogy and is forthcoming from Palgrave-MacMillan in 2016. She is currently working on an article on acoustic translation in Japanese-German author Yoko Tawada’s prose. arslan.gizem@gmail.com

“Here and Now: A Moment of Orientation in Yoko Tawada"
Yoko Tawada’s writing is primarily occupied with translation and mobility in Germany, New Europe, and the globe. The narrator of Tawada’s fiction-essay “An der Spree” (in the 2007 fiction and essay collection Sprachpolizei und Spielpolyglotte) finds herself lost in Berlin, among Arabic and Roman numerals, a variety of alphabets, digital displays, street signs and vehicles of accelerated local and global mobility. In response, she redraws the prime meridian on a piece of paper, in order to orient herself temporally and spatially in the global capital. By shifting the time and location of the prime meridian, Tawada’s narrator resists Eurocentrism in questions of heritage, language and displacement. By placing strategic illegibilities at the core of her text, Tawada calls for new strategies for encountering illegible written signs and by extension, illegible subjects. Her insistence on transformation offers an alternative to the increasingly diffuse term translation, and her readings of canonical German-language authors in Sprachpolizei und Spielpolyglotte offer sensory fragmentation and transformation as readerly strategies for encountering the canon.


Michelle Brüssow studied German Studies and Philosophy at the University of Potsdam (Germany) and Neuere Literaturwissenschaften at the Freie Universität Berlin. In 2013 she began her studies in Comparative Literature at Binghamton University, where she is at work on her dissertation proposal, which will examine transnational and transcultural literatures. In the German Studies program she teaches elementary German. mbrussow@binghamton.edu

“Multi-,Inter- oder doch lieber Transkulturelle Literatur? – Die germanistische Literaturwissenschaft im Dschungel der Präfixe”
Multikulturalität, Interkulturalität, Transkulturalität – Begriffe und ihre Präfixe, die im Zeitalter der Globalisierung und zunehmender Migrationsbewegungen immer mehr an Bedeutung gewinnen und auch das Interesse germanistischer Literaturwissenschaftler wecken. Laut Aglaia Blioumi sind dies Begriffseinheiten, die auf bestehende Realitäten reagieren, die wiederum in ästhetischen Fiktionen wirksam werden und sich als interkulturelle Elemente in literarischen Texten manifestieren. Angesichts dieser Begriffsvielheit lassen sich bereits Beschreibungsprobleme erahnen, mit denen sich die Germanistik konfrontiert sieht, wobei Diskussionen um „inter“, „multi“ und „trans“ nur einen kurzen Einblick in das Theoriegeflecht gewähren. Wie soll man nun Literaturen von Özdamar, Mora, Grjasnowa oder Eltayeb korrekt benennen? Mein Anliegen wird es einerseits sein, gängige Begriffe, die seit den 1990ern Eingang in die Germanistik gefunden haben, zu beleuchten und andererseits aufzuzeigen, wie eben diese Begriffe nicht nur den begrifflichen Rahmen der herkömmlichen germanistischen Literaturwissenschaft in Frage stellen, sondern auch Konzepte wie Nation, Kultur, Heimat, Sprache und Identität neu definieren.


Paul Buchholz teaches at the University of California, Berkeley. His research focuses on German narrative prose of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries and its intersection with modern social and political thought. He is particularly interested in how modern authors' experiments with narrative form have enabled alternative ways of thinking about political community, the family, and the environment. His scholarship has appeared in TRANSIT, Austrian Studies, the Thomas Bernhard Yearbook, and Gegenwartsliteratur: A German Studies Yearbook. A contribution to the Robert Walser Companion is forthcoming with Northwestern Press. He is currently completing his first monograph, Private Anarchy: Impossible Community and the Outsider's Monologue in German Experimental Fiction, which studies the anarchic models of community expressed within the experimental prose monologues of authors such as Gustav Landauer, Franz Kafka, Thomas Bernhard, and Wolfgang Hilbig. Another ongoing research project, tentatively titled "Communities of Desolation" will consider how visions of environmental desolation and destruction became the basis for re-imagining political community within German literature and media culture after 1968. pbuchholz@berkeley.edu

“Wastelands and Encampments: Communal Spaces in the Novels of Urs Jäggi and Nicolas Born”
In W.G. Sebald's novel The Rings of Saturn, the narrator speaks of how human history "consists almost entirely of catastrophes," a contention that hints at the general unspoken 'discovery' of the novel: namely, that the proper communal space of humanity (its 'homeland,' as it were) is the wasteland. Sebald's vision has had remarkable staying power in the twenty-first century, as his fictional documentation of destruction has been emulated by younger writers (Teju Cole, Ben Lerner), and resonates with key voices in contemporary ecocriticism that suggest that we rethink human collectivity in terms of its implication in a shared disaster (Dipesh Chakrabarty, Timothy Morton). One lesser-analyzed aspect of Sebald's works is its tremendous debt to the putative subgenre of Katastrophenliteratur that emerged in the German-speaking world in the 1970s. In this paper, I will revisit that literary-historical moment to excavate the visions of collective space and human belonging that emerged as younger authors adopted and adapted discourses of newly emergent environmental movements. I will focus in particular on the works of authors whose work reflected on the melancholy of the West Berlin Left after 1968: Nicolas Born and Urs Jäggi. In comparing these authors' figurations of the extra-urban occupation, I will trace the possibilities and dead ends of belonging suggested by each post-utopian novel and consider how these authors' visions of extra-urban spaces relate both to conceptions of domestic space and to the bounded national spaces of the Cold War era.

Nicole Coleman is Assistant Professor of German Studies at Wayne State University. Her research interests include twentieth and twenty-first century German literature, intercultural literature including migrant and minority literature, and the intersection of literature and human rights. Her current book manuscript, with the working title The Right to Difference: Human Rights in Intercultural German Literature, analyzes the relation of alienness and human rights violations in intercultural German literature since 1990. She examines in what ways alienness is constructed to allow for the violation of specific groups of people and demonstrates to which extent literature can negotiate, overcome and reconcile human rights abuses as well as the underlying constructions of alienness. ncoleman@wayne.edu

“Fantasies of Home: Refugees, Alienness, and the Construction of Heimat”
In this talk, I will suggest that Heimat is radically alien and refugees are in fact not. However, the construction of Heimat and fantasies of a place that can be called home stand in the way of refugees being welcomed or even included in a host society. Through interpellation and constructed differences, refugees are perpetually on the move and inhibited from finding a new home. I will discuss facts of expulsion after the Second World War and the refugee crisis today in connection with Jenny Erpenbeck’s novel Gehen, ging, gegangen (2015) and relate both to theories of alienness and the figure of the refugee. The presentation’s focus is the radical alienness of Heimat as a fantasy and the ways in which we can productively engage this concept in our pedagogy. As Germanists, we can contribute to the reframing of concepts of belonging and of Germany as a heterogeneous, multicultural country. Novels like Erpenbeck’s can help this process by deconstructing singular notions of belonging and by exposing Heimat as a radically alien fantasy.

Kristin Dickinson is an Assistant Professor of German Studies at the University of Michigan. She received her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of California, Berkeley in 2015. Her research on contemporary German and Turkish literature examines the potential of translation, as both a formal and a social medium, to intervene in nationalist language ideologies and nationally structured areas of study. Her current book project, Translation and the Experience of Modernity: A History of German Turkish Connectivity, traces the development of a German Turkish relationship via the translation of key literary texts from the early nineteenth century to the present. Additional publications examine acts of cross-linguistic remembrance in the work of Zafer Şenocak; the transnational significance of the early Turkish Republican author Sabahattin Ali; and the cartographies of non-arrival, disruption, and deferral in the works of Franz Kafka and Bilge Karasu. dickins@umich.edu

“Playing by the Rules?: Translating for and against Leitkultur”
In September 2015, following an unprecedented wave of refugees crossing into Germany via Hungary and Austria, Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel made the decision to print 10,000 copies of the first 20 articles of the German Grundgesetz in Arabic. Asked by Bild Zeitung to clarify his reasoning, Gabriel responded that: “People coming to Germany must not only learn the German language, but also the rules of the game of living together (Spielregeln),” adding that “the first 20 articles of our constitution are what shape our [German] culture.” Gabriel’s statement signaled a reemergence of the German Leitkultur debate and the contested role that language politics continue to play within it. It further underscored the way that translation—even as it gestures toward an inherently multilingual present—does not always function as a mode of access, but also as a means to reinscribe a monolithic understanding of Germanness. Taking this top-down act of translation as a point of departure, this paper examines the diverse translation initiatives that have emerged in response to the refugee crisis and asks how top-down translations function as a site of anxiety that paradoxically reinforce a monolingual paradigm of Germanness, at the same time that decentralized translation initiatives gesture toward a delinking of ethnicity and language, or a form of critical multilingualism central to what Yasemin Yildiz has termed the “postmonolingual condition.”

Robin Ellis is a Ph.D. Candidate in German Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. Her research focuses on questions of transnational mobility and intercultural communication, and she is currently completing a dissertation titled "Making Translation Visible: Interpreters in European Literature and Film.” rellis@berkeley.edu

“Interpreting Migrant Voices: Interpreters as Linguistic Mediators, Advocates, and Gatekeepers”
When migrants cross geopolitical borders, they often cross linguistic boundaries as well, and they frequently rely on interpreters in their interactions with state institutions. Recent profiles of interpreters working with refugees in Europe highlight both the importance and the complexity of this work. Although interpreters are generally expected to act as neutral, non-interfering channels of transmission, they are also individual human subjects, and in practice, the professional ideal of unbiased neutrality is almost impossible to achieve. Instead, interpreters either align themselves with their institutional employers, acting as gatekeepers, or identify with individual migrants and attempt to assist them. In Germany, many current interpreters of languages such as Arabic or Pashto themselves came to Germany as migrants or refugees from countries such as Syria and Afghanistan and thus identify strongly with the new arrivals they are assisting. On the other hand, many interpreters working with asylum seekers in Germany are also employed as “communication detectives,” assessing accents, word choice, and speech patterns to determine whether applicants are really Syrian refugees, and thus eligible for asylum, or whether they are actually economic migrants posing as refugees to gain entry into Germany. This paper examines key scenes in Hans-Christian Schmid’s 2003 film Distant Lights (Lichter) that exemplify these tensions in the interpreter’s role.

Stephen Grollman is an Associate Professor of German at Concordia College in Moorhead Minnesota, where he teaches undergraduate courses in German language, literature and culture as well as environmental studies. His research interests are in early twentieth century literature. He published his dissertation as Heinrich Mann: Narratives of Wilhelmine Germany and is currently working on questions of secularization and religion in German and Austrian Jewish writers, including Buber, Döblin and Werfel. grollman@cord.edu

“Religious Refuge and Divine Retribution in Franz Werfel's Die vierzig Tage des Musa Dagh”
Werfel’s 1933 novel of the Armenian massacres of 1915, is, in spite of its politically divisive topic, first and foremost a religiously motivated text, as Rachel Kirby has shown in her recent book-length treatment of the work. This paper will draw from Kirby's ideas in order examine the text as part of a larger tendency in early twentieth German and Austrian Jewish literature before 1945 to infuse religious meaning into what had become for many a nihilistic secular society. Werfel succeeds in his depiction of the protagonist Bagradian's personal struggle to establish an authentic identity between his French mother's modern Western values and the rediscovered traditional culture of his father's Armenian homeland. The manner in which Werfel structures the wider political conflict, however, proves to be more problematic. On the one hand, Werfel was certainly justified in condemning the Young Turks, whose embracing of modern Western values evolved into a form of virulent nationalism that brought about the brutal massacre of the Armenian populace. In writing this book in 1932-1933, Werfel was more concerned with the emerging threat to European Jewry by German National Socialists, and rightly so. At the same time, though, he stylized this event into a heroic epic featuring faith-loving Armenian Christians who are saved via divine intervention. The assumption here is that a return to a faith community presents a politically viable alternative for the scourge of secularization. Unfortunately, the miraculous resistance and salvation of a small village against the overwhelming Ottoman Empire undermines the historical verity of the actual situation facing Armenian and Jewish minorities during these years. That equally intense violence has been carried out in the name of religion in this same region on the Turkish-Syrian border and continues to this day, places the value of his romantic epic into question.


Dirk Kemper directs the Thomas Mann-Lehrstuhl für deutsche Philologie at the Russian State University for the Humanities in Moscow, (RGGU) where he is also Director of the Institute for Russian-German Literary and Cultural Relations. He works closely with a research group on a project, “Kulturtransfer and kulturelle Identität. Deutsch-russische Kontakte im europäischen Kontext,” that connects the University of Freiburg and the RGGU in Moscow. His research areas include modern and contemporary German literature, Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature. dirk_kemper@me.com

“Kulturtransferforschung als erweiterte Germanistik“
Die ältere Komparatistik hat transnationale Literaturbeziehungen gern unter dem Begriff des „Einflusses“ des deutschen Autors A auf den nichtdeutschen Autor B (oder umgekehrt) beschreiben. Einfluss war also ein Dialog literarischer Geister und ihrer ganz individuellen Rezeption des jeweils anderen. Die aktuelle Kulturtransferforschung setzt die Akzente anders. Es geht um den Dialog ganzer Literatur- und Kultursysteme, ganz konkret analysierbar auf der Ebene von Mittlerfiguren wie Verlegern, Übersetzern, Herausgebern etc. Wie wurde aus dem „russischen Dostoevskij“ der „deutsche Dostoevskij“, der sich wiederum ganz entscheidend vom „französischen Dostoevskij“ unterschied? Wer initiierte den Transfer nach Deutschland, wann und mit welchen Interessen? Wie konnte die aufnehmende deutsche Kultur Dostoevskij überhaupt „verdauen“ (Jurij Lotman)? Wer und aus welcher Interessenlage heraus bewirkte oder steuerte die Transformationsprozesse, die offenbar notwendig waren, um den russischen Autor in Deutschland zu etablieren? Antworten auf diese Fragen sollen anhand der ersten deutschen Dostoevskij-Ausgabe von Arthur Moeller van den Bruck und ihrer Wirkung auf Hermann Hesse erarbeitet werden.

Natalia Kemper-Bakshi is Professor of German at the Russian State University for the Humanities in Moscow (RGGU). Her research interests include nineteenth- and twentieth century Austrian literature, modern and contemporary Swiss literature and theology in the postwar period in the Germanophone world. Recent publications include essays on Christine Lavant, Thomas Hürlimann and Robert Walser as well as a co-edited collection, Religiöse Thematiken in den deutschsprachigen Literaturen der Nachkriegszeit (1945-1955) (2013). nataliabakshi@mail.ru

“German Studies aus der Perspektive der Auslandsgermanistik am Beispiel von Russland”
Die Literaturwissenschaft in Russland wurde in der zweiten Hälfte des 19. Jhs. von Alexander Veselovskij als vergleichende Literaturwissenschaft konzipiert, die im Gegensatz zum Studium nationaler Literaturen ein vollständiges Bild der allgemeinen Literaturgeschichte geben sollte. Damit wurde eine Tradition begründet, an der sich auch russische Vertreter der Nationalphilologien orientierten. Alexander Michajlov setzte diese Ideen in den siebziger bis neunziger Jahre des 20. Jahrhunderts fort. In komparatistischer Orientierung am Ganzen der (Welt-)Literatur stellte er fest, dass es in Russland keine Nur-Germanisten, sondern nur Auch-noch-Germanisten gäbe, die nicht nur sprachbezogene, sondern vor allem kulturelle Komparatistik treiben sollen. Dazu zählte auch die Komparatistik innerhalb des deutschsprachigen Raums. In unserer Zeit wird diese Idee von dem St. Petersburger Germanisten Alexej Zherebin weiterentwickelt, der behauptet, Komparatistik sei der „Geheimkode“ russischer Germanistik und nur aus dieser bewusst eigenkulturellen Perspektive könnten wir die Rezeption deutscher, d.h „fremder“ Texte fruchtbar werden.

Eckhard Kuhn-Osius studied in Germany, Great Britain, and the United States and obtained a Ph.D. in German from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1978 with a dissertation titled On Understanding Narrative Texts: Epistemological and Semiological Prolegomena for a Methodology of Literary Scholarship. He taught at the University of Colorado, Vassar College, Princeton University, Columbia University before coming to Hunter College in 1984. At Hunter he has been involved in various grant-related activities to reconfigure the German program along proficiency principles to make the study of German accessible to non-heritage students. From 1990 till 2012 he served as the Chair of the National German Examination Commission of the American Association of Teachers of German and has worked in various capacities on the German Advanced Placement Test and other standardized tests. He has published numerous articles and reviews on literary and pedagogical topics. He has written an introductory textbook series which has been used at Hunter and other universities for over fifteen years. His literary research focuses mainly on the right-wing response to the experience of World War I and questions of hermeneutics and epistemology. He presently directs the Hunter College summer program in Kassel. ekuhnos@hunter.cuny.edu

“The Great Homecoming to the German Refuge: A Tradition Begun by Popular German Books on World War I”
This presentation examines a sub-genre of World War I books which has not yet been described as such, although some of its works were among the top sellers in Germany in the time of the war and post-war. They all appeared early on, sometimes even before the war was over, and on account of their popularity colored the way in which the war was seen by the educated German public. These homecoming novels/reports all tell the stories of German soldiers (usually sailors) who find themselves in enemy surroundings when the war breaks out and try to find their way home to Germany. Books like Ayesha or Der Flieger von Tsingtau (and several others) had been selling for a decade before works more critical of the war were published. They colored the image of the war for thousands of Germans who had not experienced it first-hand. By concentrating on individuals who retained agency, these books perpetuated an antiquated view of the war experience, and by making the return to the fatherland the central point of their plot, they helped foster a mood in which the lost war was seen as a means for Germany to overcome internal divisions and to find its true cultural and political identity. They also started a tradition in which Germany became the goal of remigration of ethnic Germans to Germany, which dominated the German attitude toward immigration for decades.

Agata Joanna Lagiewka is at present a “German as a Foreign Language” assistant in Austria. Previously she worked at the Wirth Institute for Austrian and Central European Studies at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada as a research fellow and the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona in Spain. Her study fields and publications include contemporary postcolonial literature, migration literature and the concepts/discourses of hybridity, physical and mental border-crossing and transcultural identity in German and English literature, including social issues from historical, socio-political and literary perspective, dealing with migration, discrimination, construction and perception of ‘Otherness’ and racism. agatel@hotmail.com

“‘Ins Fremde Schreiben’ –Multiple Dis-Placements and Border Crossing in Contemporary Austrian Literature”
Austria during the Habsburg reign was known to be a multicultural society with an active exchange of ethnicities, religions and nationalities that ended abruptly in the twentieth century. After dramatic changes throughout the last hundred years and particularly since the recent wave of migration, the country’s position as a country of immigration is still disputed. The Austrian literary scene, however, has discovered the artistic importance and economic saleability of migration literature, leading to a turning-point in the perception of what is considered Austrian literature. The literary awards “Schreiben zwischen den Kulturen” and the “Hohenemser Literaturpreis für deutschsprachige AutorInnen nichtdeutscher Muttersprache” have further helped to promote writers such as Julya Rabinowich, Dimitré Dinev, Anna Kim, Michael Stavarić and Agnieszka Piwowarska. This presentation explores how narratives and writers are perceived in terms of shifting paradigms of national belonging and in the context of a perceived “Eastern” turn in the study of German literature.


Anastasiya Lyubas is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Comparative Literature at Binghamton University. She is at work on a dissertation project entitled Language, Plasticity, Modernism(s): Patterns of Monolingual Writing in Debora Vogel’s and Bruno Schulz’ Poetics. She received a B.A. in Translation Studies from Lviv National University in Ukraine and finished the program of interdisciplinary studies in the humanities in Warsaw University and Ukrainian Catholic University in 2011. With the support of a Fulbright she completed an. M.A. in Comparative Literature and a Translation Certificate in Russian at Binghamton University in 2014. As a writer and translator she has published a children’s book and has translated into Ukrainian a collection of short stories by Maxine Hong Kingston, Alice Walker and Flannery O’Connor. She is currently working on a translation of Debora Vogel’s prose collection Acacias Bloom from Polish and Yiddish into English. alyubas1@binghamton.edu

“Born Translated or at Home in the Unhomely: Linguistic Imaginations of Bruno Schulz and Yoko Tawada”
This paper examines the transnational and polylingual poetics of Schulz, a Polish-Jewish-Modernist (often referred to as the “Polish Kafka”) from eastern Galicia (now the western Ukraine). Schulz dwelt in languages both his and not entirely his own. In his Polish writings we read the lost mama-loshn of Yiddish as well as German and Ukrainian influences. Tawada, a contemporary German-Japanese writer, detached herself from Japan, but not entirely from Japanese, when she moved to Germany. With her oeuvre in both German and Japanese she defamiliarizes what it means to write in a “foreign” language and in one’s “mother tongue.” Through the comparison of strategies each author uses to make multilingualism visible and to trouble conventional notions of home as they explore travel, myth and bodily metamorphosis, I will identify key differences in the authors’ respective linguistic, historical and political contexts for writing. I will example the notion of the uncanny (das Unheimliche) in its broader sense as well as in its psychoanalytic conception and draw on the work of Yasemin Yildiz to consider what it means to be at home in language(s). To echo the work of Rebecca Walkowitz, this paper will ponder what it means for texts to be born translated.

Brian McInnis is Lecturer of German at the Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Virginia. His research interests span from 1700 to the present and include the discourse of body and soul in the long eighteenth century, Lessing as a cultural critic, and the interplay of science and literature from 1700 to the present. He is currently completing a manuscript on the body/soul discourse in novels and magazines around 1750. He has presented at conferences organized by ASECS, ISECS, the GSA, and the MLA. He published an essay in the 2015 edited volume The Early History of Embodied Cognition 1740-1920: The Lebenskraft-Debate and Radical Reality in German Science, Music, and Literature entitled “Haller, Unzer, and Science as Process.” mcinnis04@gmail.com

“Memory and Displacement in Reinhard Jirgl’s Die Unvollendeten”
Reinhard Jirgl’s 2003 novel Die Unvollendeten evaluates the experience of a representative post-World War II German-speaking family as it struggles to re-establish itself after forced expulsion from the Sudetenland. The three generations struggle to stay together through the tumult of repeated demands to prove their identity before overbearing authorities. They also struggle with abuses by landlords and employers. This paper examines the novel for the manner in which it shapes individual and cultural memories and questions how the novel uses formal structures to shape staging and creation of memory: time structure, narrative mediation, and perspective structure (B. Neumann). Does the novel use other formal or discursive structures to enhance memory creation and dissemination? How does the novel contribute to the cultural working memory or the cultural reference memory (A. Assmann) about exiled Germans post-World War II? Through a consideration of these and other questions, the paper aims to evaluate the engagement with memory in this narrative of displacement.

Marie-Christine Merdan currently serves as DAAD Lecturer for German in the Department of German and Russian Studies at Binghamton University. She studied German Literature and Linguistics, German as a Foreign Language and History at Regensburg University, Germany and at Royal Holloway London, UK. Her research interests include German literature and philosophy, second language acquisition and pedagogy. mmerdan@binghamton.edu

“Wie Heimat zur Sprache kommt: Identitätskonstruktionen im Wandel”
Im Zuge der Entwicklung zu einer modernen und globalisierten Gesellschaft erlebt der traditionelle Heimatbegriff eine Bedeutungsverschiebung. Die Entstehung immer vielfältiger werdender Lebenswelten bringt eine Umstellung für den Menschen mit sich, der sich in diesen Welten bewegt. Für ihn wird es immer schwieriger, sich über seinen geographischen Ursprung zu definieren. Da der Begriff „Heimat“ bereits seit dem Mittelalter eine geographische Gebundenheit impliziert, wird dieser Begriff in der Gegenwart aufgrund der beschriebenen Pluralisierung immer weiter davon losgelöst und durch alternative Werte ersetzt. Im Zuge dessen entwickeln sich verschiedene Möglichkeiten der modernen Identitätskonstruktion. Es gibt Versuche „Heimat“ zu redefinieren und dies nicht mehr als „vererbbar“ und „gegeben“ anzusehen, sondern vielmehr als etwas sich selbst zu erarbeitendes. Neuere Umfragen ergaben auch, dass der Heimatbegriff über zwischenmenschliche Beziehungen determiniert werden kann. Kann Sprache eventuell auch als Medium zur Identifikation dienen?


Edward Muston received his Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Princeton University in 2011. He has taught at Bowdoin College where he was an Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in 2012, at Dickinson College, and at Rutgers University. His current research concentrates on contemporary German literature and film with an emphasis on innovative autobiographical forms that represent individuals simultaneously occupying different languages, ethnicities, and nationalities. A second project explores the role of sport in shaping Germanic cultures. He has previously published articles on Michael Glawogger, Elfriede Jelinek, and Thomas Bernhard’s influence on the American author William Gaddis. emuston@fandm.edu

“That’s so Cis!: Transnational Literature and Cisnational Bias”
Only in recent years has the term transnational literature gained traction in German Studies as a replacement for the more restrictive and patronizing label “Migrantenliteratur” or the related description of works by authors “mit Migrationshintergrund.” In groundbreaking analyses by Leslie Adelson and more recently by Yasemin Yildiz, transnational literature has been described as transcending the “between” thinking that created the category “Migrantenliteratur” and undermining the belief in the cozy cohabitation of language and identity within a given nation. Unlike in Gender Studies, where the term cisgender has been coined to describe the privilege many societies bestow upon individuals for whom biological sex and heterosexual gender roles coincide, there is currently no widely accepted label for the normative belief in the familial connection between fatherland and mother-tongue. This paper proposes that what Yildiz describes as the “postmonolingual paradigm” should be extended and would thereby gain greater currency if categorized as cisnationalism or cisnationalist prejudice. My paper will explain the importance of recognizing cisnational bias through a comparison of Yoko Tawada and Milena Michiko Flašar, an Austrian-Japanese author.

Katrina Nousek is currently a postdoctoral researcher in German and Global Studies at Lawrence University. Her teaching and research interests include narrative studies, theoretical and geographical issues accruing to “postcommunism” in former countries of the Eastern bloc, transnationalism, and contemporary German-language literature. She is currently investigating futurity in works by Herta Müller, Zsuzsa Bánk and Terézia Mora in a manuscript entitled Pasts with Futures: Postcommunist Subjects in Contemporary German Literature. She holds a B.A. in History and Literature from Harvard University and a Ph.D. in German Studies from Cornell University. knousek@gmail.com

“Communities that Count: Postcommunism & Transnationalism in Contemporary German Literature”
In a set of lectures delivered after the end of state-sponsored communism in 1989 and later published in English as We, the People of Europe?, Etienne Balibar reflects on notions of citizenship in Europe. Underscoring linkages between nationalism and racism, Balibar suggests the need to rethink notions of political community. Balibar’s philosophical commentary on barriers to creating a “transnational citizenship” marks a disjuncture between political communities and states in liberal discourses about the modern nation-state as it has developed in the West. In Balibar’s account, nations do not exist without a state, and the nation-state projects ethnicities onto populations in order to establish coherence between political bodies and their constituents. Balibar’s philosophical attempt to refine transnationalism seeks to invent a notion of transnational citizenship that could fulfill an ideal project of “European unification” as a dynamic unity that can continually admit new constituents. In contrast, German sociologist Thomas Faist draws a distinction between “transstaatliche” and “transnationale” social spaces. Taking its cues from Yasemin Yildiz’s attention to multilingual practices in literature and Faist’s uncoupling of nation and state, this paper will discuss limitations to and possibilities of constructing trans-state social networks in German postcommunist literature through an examination of Jenny Erpenbeck’s postcommunist novel Gehen, Ging, Gegangen (2015). I will investigate how multilingual subjects from Germany and countries across Africa negotiate languages understood variously as “global,” classical and national (English, French, ancient Greek, Hausa, Italian, Latin, Russian, Tamasheq, Yoruba) in German in a present moment marked by migration and the history of the former GDR.

Annika Orich is currently completing her dissertation in German Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. Her dissertation, Artificial Aliens: Imagining Reproduction in German Culture, studies technological reproduction in biology and the arts as related processes. In the case of Germany, the discourse surrounding biological and cultural reproduction and technologies, as her project demonstrates, centers predominantly on anxieties about the perpetuation of a homogenous ethnic community bound by a shared national identity and cultural memory. One of her chapters examines this relationship via the 2011 film comedy Almanya – Welcome to Germany, focusing on the trope of the “traveling corpse” in Turkish German literature and film. She is a member of the Multicultural Germany Project, and worked as a researcher, editor, and proofreader for Transit Deutschland: Debatten zu Nation und Migration. She translated and extended the book’s chronology on Germany’s history of migration (continuing on the group’s website), and published on laughter about the Nazi past. aorich@berkeley.edu

“Paradigms of Heimat, Belonging, and Displacement in Gregor Weichbrodt’s and Hannes Bajohr’s Glaube Liebe Hoffnung. Nachrichten aus dem christlichen Abendland”
This paper examines Weichbrodt’s and Bajohr‘s 2015 literary project Glaube Liebe Hoffnung. Nachrichten aus dem christlichen Abendland, which collects Facebook comments made by supporters of the PEGIDA movement between December 2014 and February 2015. Their extraction of any comments starting with “Ich glaube,” “Ich liebe,” and “Ich hoffe” from over 280 000 online entries is arranged within one of the work’s three chapters. This paper describes the “Abendland” that emerges from Weichbrodt’s and Bajohr’s appropriation of PEGIDA supporters’ comments. In particular, I explore what understanding of Heimat, belonging, and displacement materializes in the work and analyze the relation between the text and its sources in the context of Marc Jongen’s work for the Alternative für Deutschland (AfD). Jongen previously worked with Peter Sloterdijk at the Hochschule für Gestaltung in Karlsruhe, and is currently active as deputy spokesperson and program coordinator for the AfD, for which he is in the process of writing a “Manifest” on the significance of “thymos,” and the prevention of the deconstruction of family, “Volk,” and church. This presentation further explores the (possible) role of literature and, ultimately, German Studies, in response to the emergence of PEGIDA and AfD language and politics, and the power of social media in determining paradigms of Heimat, belonging, and displacement.


Monika Shafi holds a named professorship in German Literature and chairs the Department of Women and Gender Studies at the University of Delaware. She is the author of several books and numerous articles on 20th and 21st century German literature. She edited Approaches to Teaching Grass’s The Tin Drum in the MLA Series Teaching World Literature (2008). Her book Housebound: Domestic Space and Selfhood in Contemporary German Fiction appeared in 2012. She is currently working on representations of work in contemporary German prose and on travel narratives. mshafi@udel.edu

“Refugees, Temporality, and Work in Jenny Erpenbeck’s Gehen Ging Gegangen"
In a recent essay entitled “Figuring Lateness in Modern German Culture”, Karen Leeder analyzes the role of temporality, specifically lateness in contemporary German culture and argues that lateness can be rightfully regarded as expressing the Angst of our times. Denoting a wide spectrum of temporal anxieties such as waiting, redundancy, illness, and loss, lateness also refers to acceleration and technological changes and is thus intimately connected to neoliberal capitalism and the widespread damage it inflicts on communities, identities and cohesive life courses. Temporality, Leeder concludes, is in danger of becoming pathological, rupturing our relationship to history as well as to the future. This chronic present dovetails with a chronic mode of crisis because crises are no longer an exception but the default mode. As status quo crises allow, as Eric Cazdyn (The Already Dead, 2012) pointed out, neither for life nor for death thus condemning huge numbers of people to exist in a “global abyss” with no exit in sight. Building on these arguments, I propose to investigate the concept of lateness in Jenny Erpenbeck’s recent novel Gehen Ging Gegangen (2015), a timely and topical contribution to the current refugee situation in Germany. It tells the story of Richard, a recently retired professor of classics in Berlin, widowed and childless, who finds himself with an abundance of time but few activities beyond his domestic routines. Erpenbeck depicts displacement as a spatial as well as a temporal category, and it is through the latter that Richard first connects to the refugees. While the novel addresses specifics such as the Dublin Regulation on Refugees or German asylum laws, it is precisely in its exploration of temporal regimes that its analysis is most penetrating. Erpenbeck draws attention to the lived realities of a perpetual present and to the figure of the “living-dead”, as Sherryl Vint called human beings deemed disposable. Based on Agamben’s distinction between zoe (physical existence) and bios (human life), the living dead denote, as Erpenbeck demonstrates, the crisis of temporality, work, and citizenship which is no longer solved, only managed.

Jamie H. Trnka is Associate Professor of World Language and Cultures at the University of Scranton, where she directs the German Major and serves as an Associate Faculty Member in Women’s Studies and Latin American Studies. Her book Revolutionary Subjects: German Literatures, Geoculture, and the Limits of Aesthetic Solidarity with Latin America is forthcoming with the DeGruyter series on Interdisciplinary German Cultural Studies. She has published on literatures of migration and exile, international collaboration in East German film, and theories of cultural and historiographic translation in journals such as German Quarterly, German Studies Review and New German Critique. She has served as a moderator, commentator, and co-organizer (with Marike Janzen) of two panels on Germany’s World Literatures at past annual meetings of the GSA. jamie.trnka@scranton.edu

“Literary Exile, Textual Transfer, and the Impossibility of Return in Three Novels by Carlos Cerda”
Chilean author Carlos Cerda (1942-2001) spent twelve years in East German exile, during which time he completed his doctorate in literature. It is no surprise that many of his texts reference both the anti-socialist Pinochet dictatorship and life in socialist East Germany. None, however, are so clearly organized around German literary touchstones as the three novels written after his return to Santiago. Each of these works pivots on the translation of canonical German material into contemporary Chilean realities: Morir en Berlín (1993) takes up Thomas Mann’s Death in Venice (1912); Una Casa Vacía (1996) E.T.A. Hoffmann’s The Deserted House (1817); and, most explicitly, Sombras que caminan (1999) Goethe’s Egmont (1788). The play of repetition and difference Cerda employs around each pairing turns the world literary commonplace “traductora traidora" on its head; increasingly and ever more explicitly, Cerda’s protagonists insist that the real betrayal of literature lies in the failure or even refusal to translate.
Locating textual authenticity in the subjective experience of literary transfer across the boundaries of languages, cultures, states, and histories, Cerda connects thematic engagement with the end of utopian thinking, atrocity, memory, and the (im)possibility of solidarity with the utopian power of literature and the dynamic relation of cultural remembrance and literary cannons. This paper thus raises critical questions about how the circulation of memory and its own labored return from exile are mediated by the circulation of national literatures, literary scholars, and authors.


Anna Zimmer is an Assistant Professor of German and International Studies at Northern Michigan University. She earned her Ph.D. from Georgetown University. Her research examines the forms and functions of memory in German-language novels that prominently figure violent conflicts and wars since 1990, including the Rwandan civil war, the dissolution of Yugoslavia, the NATO mission in Kosovo, 9/11, and the Iraq War. Informed by the interdisciplinary fields of migration studies and memory studies, her research illustrates how multi-perspectival literary texts utilize the past not only as a lens through which more recent conflicts are understood, but also to confront current social issues, ranging from the deployment of troops to the tightening of immigration law. She is the co-editor of the Palgrave Macmillan series Memory Politics and Transitional Justice. Her recent publications include the essays “Putting the Past and Present on Trial: Migration and Memory in Ludwig Laher’s Documentary Novel, Verfahren” in The Eastern European Turn in Contemporary German-Language Literature (a special issue of German Life and Letters, 2015) and “Abschied von typischen 9/11 (Satz-)Zeichen. Multidirektionale Erinnerungen aus New York und Bagdad in Thomas Lehrs September. Fata Morgana” in the volume Abschied von 9/11? – Distanznahmen zur Katastrophe (2013). anzimmer@nmu.edu

“All at Sea: Refugees and Responsibility in Merle Kröger’s Havarie”
Set in a state of confusion and disorder on the Mediterranean Sea on an Irish cruise ship, a refugee boat from Algeria, a Ukrainian freighter, and a Spanish coast guard ship, German author Merle Kröger’s 2015 crime novel, Havarie, pushes the reader to reconsider traditional notions of place and how they relate to exile, refuge, and travel in the early twenty-first century. The novel’s setting on the Mediterranean offers a unique opportunity to consider the variety of images of this region and how they inform one another and/or compete for interpretive hegemony. Kröger’s seascape encourages readers to explore how the continents that share this Mediterranean shoreline—Europe, Asia, and Africa—are entangled in the ongoing global refugee crisis. Havarie, like many other best-selling and award-winning “Krimis,” begins with the death of individuals, but rather than following the story of an eccentric detective searching for the culpable criminal, Kröger invites the reader to ponder who or what is responsible for the plight of refugees today. The book shares many similarities with documentary arts and has even been labeled a Doku-fiction-thriller-essay-roman by Elmar Krekeler. Situating my analysis within the field of global German Studies and drawing upon my own research on literary documentaries, my analysis of the documentary techniques employed and Kröger’s departure from the traditional Krimi-genre illuminates the political thrust of the novel and the possibilities of popular Germanophone literature to contribute to political discourse in a Europe increasingly influenced by migration.


Marianne Zwicker currently heads the Language Program at Deutsches Haus at New York University. Previously, she spent two years as an ACLS Public Fellow at the IIE Scholar Rescue Fund. In 2011, she held a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Edinburgh’s Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities. She was awarded a Ph.D. in German Literature at the University of Edinburgh in 2010 for her dissertation Journeys into Memory: Romani Identity and the Holocaust in Autobiographical Writing by German and Austrian Romanies. She holds a Master’s degree in creative writing, also from the University of Edinburgh. marianne.zwicker@nyu.edu

‘Writing to be Heard: Romani Narratives of Arrival and Transition in Germany and Austria"
This paper examines recent works by Romanies who came to Austria and Germany from Eastern Europe either as migrant workers since the 1960s, or in order to flee racial persecution during the Balkan wars of the 1990s, and explores their attempts to create and claim ‘safe spaces’ on territorial and non-territorial levels through writing. With examples from poetry and prose works by Jovan Nikolić, Rajko Djurić (Germany), and Ilija Jovanović (Austria), as well as songs by Romani singer Rusza Nikolić Lakatos (Austria), I analyze from a socio-historical perspective the authors’ statements on origins, transition, destination, and traumatic experience. I suggest that Romani experiences of exile and movement between borders in Europe can make valuable contributions to existing discussions and debates concerning both migration and the experience of seeking refuge. These works raise questions of national, cultural and “European” identities in an eastward expanding EU. They suggest that Romani representations of their own experiences of movement across borders articulate the universal challenge of negotiating living space within rapidly internationalizing national and EU contexts. They also return us to the question of the long silence surrounding the victimization of Romanies in the Holocaust and the slowness of official recognition of Romanies as victims in the concentration camps.



Gisela Brinker-Gabler is Professor of Comparative Literature at Binghamton University. Her research addresses modern literature and thought, gender, knowledge and history, women's literature and political culture. Her research interests include narratives of exile and migration, the Jewish-German tradition, literature and memory, autobiographics, and romanticism. Her books in German include Poetisch-wissenschaftliche Mittelalter-Rezeption (1980) and several edited volumes on German women writers from the Middle Ages to the present. In English she published the collections The Question of the Other(s). Studies in History, Literature, and Culture (1995); Writing New Identities. Nation, Gender, and Immigration in Contemporary Europe (1997, together with Sidonie Smith);  and ‘If We Had the Word.’ Ingeborg Bachmann: Views and Reviews (2004, together with Markus Zisselsberger). Recent publications include the book Image in Outline. Reading Lou Andreas-Salomé (2012) and essays such as  “The New Nomads. Yoko Tawada lesen” (in Die Lücke im Sinn. Vergleichende Studien zu Yoko Tawada, 2014); “’Moderne’ Männlichkeit in der Literatur des Fin-de-Siècle und der Harlem Renaissance” (in Frauenphantasien. Der imaginierte Mann im Werk von Film-und Buchautorinnen, 2014); and “Benjamin: The Translator/Critic in the Age of Globalization” (Festschrift Raleigh Whitinger, forthcoming, 2016). gbrinker@binghamton.edu

Carl Gelderloos is currently working on a book—tentatively titled Biological Modernisms: Organicism, Technology, and Culture in the Weimar Republic—on the dense and often surprising interdisciplinarity that characterized cultural narratives of technology in the Weimar Republic and its engagement with the idea of modernity. He joined the Department of German and Russian Studies at Binghamton University in 2014 after receiving a Ph.D. from Cornell University. He has published articles on Alfred Döblin, the photography of Albert Renger-Patzsch, and East German science fiction. cgelderl@binghamton.edu

Julia Ludewig is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Comparative Literature at Binghamton University and a teacher of German. She received her B.A. in Cultural Studies from the University of Frankfurt/Oder (Germany) and her M.A. in European Linguistics from the University of Freiburg (Germany). Her research interests include literature, linguistics, and graphic novels. As of August 2016 she will be an Assistant Professor of German at Allegheny College. jludewi1@binghamton.edu

Rosmarie T. Morewedge teaches German language, literature and cultural studies at Binghamton University. Intrigued by problems of narration, she works with medieval historical “minstrel” epics, but also the modern short story and Märchen. Other scholarly interests are poetry and pedagogy. She has published on Wolfram von Eschenbach, medieval poetry, medieval folktales, Märchen and on modern authors, as well as in pedagogy, including a textbook for students of German that develops integrated language/culture skills, close reading and literary interpretation. rmorewed@binghamton.edu

Neil Christian Pages teaches in German Studies and Comparative Literature at Binghamton University. His research interests include Austrian, German and Scandinavian cultural productions, commemorative practices, translation and the history of criticism. Publications include essays on Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Georg Brandes, W.G. Sebald, Adalbert Stifter, on Rachel Whiteread’s Shoah memorial in Vienna and Michael Haneke’s film Caché. He is co-editor (with Mary Rhiel and Ingeborg Majer-O’Sickey) of Riefenstahl Screened: An Anthology of New Criticism. npages@binghamton.edu

Harald Zils is Assistant Professor of German Studies at Binghamton University. He received a Dr. phil. from the Albert-Ludwigs Universität in Freiburg. He has published on Johann Peter Hebel, Hölderlin, Arno Schmidt, Botho Strauß, Rudolf Borchardt and Wolfgang Herrndorf. hzils@binghamton.edu


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