(Trans)literation: Exploring Borders and Boundaries through Literature and Film
Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages, Vanderbilt University
March 18-19, 2011
Keynote speaker: Barbara Wahlster, author and journalist
Visiting Professor in the Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages, Vanderbilt University
Ancient Rome pushes north. The Great Vowel Shift alters European languages. The borders of the Holy Roman Empire melt into the past and the modern nation-state comes forward. Alsace changes hands. The reinstatement of the Oder-Neiße Line creates a new group of exiles. The Habsburg Empire rises and falls, Austria is annexed, Switzerland preserves its neutrality.
The history of the German-speaking world – and its neighbors – is also one inextricably bound to the question of borders and their definitions. These borders create, divide, or redraw political unity and individual identity; they affirm or reject linguistic, ethnic, cultural, and religious diversity within geographical and political boundaries. They function to define and separate, delineate and contain, to exclude and include.
German Studies as a discipline exists because of borders, yet the very phenomenon of borders lends itself to questions of transversing these borders. Political events of a national scale occur on an international stage: Amid controversy, Germany accepts 50 Iranian asylum seekers. Arizona passes a law requiring police to check on illegal status; France bans headscarves. Switzerland votes on whether third-generation immigrants can become citizens.
Everywhere the modern thinker turns, borders and boundaries both become visible and offer the challenge of being transcended. These boundaries occur on international, national, communal, and individual scales, and provide the opportunity for reflection on what it means to think, live, and write between boundaries.
Topics could include, but are not limited to:
borders / boundaries: gender / race / nation
departure / arrival
communities / individuals
gender / race / class
nostalgia / humor / satire
flight / exile
language / translation / writing
memory / (re)writing history
autobiography / fiction
multi-cultural, bi-cultural, hybrid
defining the other
Possible authors/directors for consideration include, but are not limited to:
Emine Sevgi Özdamar
W. G. Sebald
We welcome submissions from all disciplines. Please send a 300-word abstract (in .doc or .pdf format), along with your name, university affiliation, and contact information, to email@example.com by November 1, 2010.
Department of Germanic & Slavic Languages
VU Station B #351567
2301 Vanderbilt Place
Nashville, TN 37235-1567 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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