Keynote speaker and workshop leader: Caroline Schaumann (Emory University)

Nature is the perennial object of aesthetic and philosophical consideration in general, and of German Studies in particular. But given that recent decades have troubled a clear divide between nature and culture, both in terms of fundamental changes to the concept of nature, as well as interpretive shifts and paradigms that seek to challenge nature’s status as an object of representation, it might be time to ask what we might now ask of and about nature. What had constituted since Aristotle a kind of ideal that art had to imitate is now understood in countless other relationships: as a partner and an opponent, as something to protect and something to fear, as object of desire, “mother,” investment, responsibility and refuge. New representations of nature often exercise power over nature with unforeseen consequences, and themselves become part of “second nature.” Meanwhile, approaches in literary, cultural, and visual studies that thematize and reflect on nature as a field that is both the object of aesthetic representation and the precondition for aesthetic production—approaches including ecocriticism, the Anthropocene, and plant and animal studies—have proven incredibly generative over the past couple decades.

BUGSC IX seeks to gather these strands of social, technological, artistic, and pedagogical impulses and tendencies concerning “fabricated nature,” in order to ask about common denominators and points of contact. The organizers welcome contributions from German Studies and neighboring disciplines that deal with general reflections on the topic as well as specific analyses. We encourage creative approaches to canonical texts and questions, as well as consideration of figures, topics, and texts that are not yet prominent in German Studies scholarship or curricula.

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


All events take place in the Engineering and Science Building (room ES 2008) at the Binghamton University Innovative Technologies Center (ITC) on Murray Hill Road.

Friday, April 20, 2018

8:30 Breakfast

9:00 Opening remarks

Harald Zils and Carl Gelderloos, Binghamton University

9:15–10:45 — Nature and/as Theory

Intimations of the Posthuman: Kant's Natural Beauty — Peter Gilgen, Cornell University

The Nature of Critique — Johannes Wankhammer, Princeton

"Wahr ist’s, das Leben schwebt gern in der Mitte". Poietische und Lebens-Formen zwischen den Geschlechtern bei Friedrich Schlegel — Marius Reisener, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

Moderator: Carl Gelderloos, Binghamton University

11:00–12:00 — Goethe's Nature

"Da ist für mich nichts Neues zu erfahren": re-visiting Goethe's geological writings — Jennifer Caisley, University of Cambridge (UK)

Ecocriticism and Literary History: Goethe's Figures of Light — May Mergenthaler, Ohio State University

Moderator: Harald Zils, Binghamton University

12:00–1:00 Lunch

1:00–2:00 — Nature and Media

Vampyroteuthis infernalis and You: the Biosemiotics of Vilém Flusser — Thomas Beebee, Penn State

Teaching Urban Hygiene: Kulturfilm and the Nature of the City — Paul A. Dobryden, University of Virginia

Moderator: Neil Christian Pages, Binghamton University

2:15–3:15 — Nature, mediated

Grizzly Man, Or: The Nature of the Nature Film in the Digital Age — Jeroen Gerrits, Binghamton University

Beyond the Precipice: The Amplification of Nature — Harald Höbusch, University of Kentucky

Moderator: Giovanna Montenegro, Binghamton University

3:30 Roundtable: Results of Day One

4:00–5:00 Wine and Cheese Reception

5:00–6:30 Keynote Address

Caroline Schaumann, Emory University: “Reading the News from Nature”

8:00 Dinner for registered participants at P.S. Restaurant

Saturday, April 21

8:30 Breakfast

9:00–10:30 — Ecopoetics and Literature

Franz Hohler's Popular Ecopoetics - Brian McInnis, Christopher Newport University

Poeticizing the Mesh: Zu Franz Josef Czernins natur-gedichten - Thomas Eder, Universität Wien

Haselstrauch / der gestikuliert / vielbeschäftigt. Zu einer schweizerischen Korrektur des Unbegriffs ‘Naturlyrik’ noch vor dem 21. Jahrhundert - Christian Sinn, Pädagogische Hochschule St. Gallen

Moderator: Anna Pfeifer, Binghamton University

10:30–12:00 — Bad News from Nature

Nature Strikes Back- Fate and Statistics in Max Frisch's Homo Faber - Eckhard Kuhn-Osius, Hunter College, CUNY

An Ökothriller of the Other Kind: Nature’s Revenge in the GDR SF of Aktion Erde - Thomas P. David, University of Minnesota

Innovative Invasions: Parasitic logic in Upstream Color, Jordskott and The Girl with all the Gifts - Simone Klapper, Galway

Moderator: Mona Eikel-Pohen, Syracuse University

12:00–12:30 Lunch

12:30-2:00 Workshop: Teaching Nature in the Anthropocene

For questions, registrations and more information, please contact Harald Zils, Department of German and Russian, Binghamton University.