The Inevitability of Identity?
13th Annual Graduate Student Conference of the German and Dutch Graduate Student Association at the University of Wisconsin-Madison
March 4-5, 2011
Keynote Speaker: Kader Konuk, Associate Professor, Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
Call for Papers
Questions of identity have been a focus of scholarly analysis for some time now. As different political, cultural, or social concerns come in and out of focus, our understanding of identity and our assessment of its importance change. Although the study of identity continues to be crucial in many disciplines, it has increasingly also become the object of criticism. Some argue that it is too narrow and particularistic and has diverted our attention from more pressing political concerns, others claim that it is too broad or essentialist and thus insufficient. Furthermore, the postmodern critique of grand narratives and essentialist notions may suggest that identities no longer matter. However, the dismissal of identity entirely means that we are discarding a useful, and even necessary, analytical category. Not only do essentializing categories still exist, but they also have real implications and consequences for cultural and linguistic matters, and for political and social formations.
Rather than dismissing identity altogether, it may be time to question and re-define what we mean when we speak of identity and to reclaim it as a valuable concept. If we decide to do so, how can we situate identity within the larger context of transnationalism and mobility? What are the multiple intersections and contradictions that form identities and that cast them into multiple and simultaneous social, cultural, and political processes? As we engage in discourses of representation, sexuality, gender, race, nationality, ethnicity, age, disability, language, etc., a number of questions arise. Is it indeed possible to claim that we live in a post-identitarian world if notions of identity and difference continue to inform the actions of individuals or groups? Can we do away with identity if the physical markers that are inscribed onto bodies are used to construct identities? How do we speak of exclusion and discrimination, of power and superiority, of inclusion and openness, and of empowerment and equality, if we choose not to situate the discussion within a framework of identity?
In our work as scholars of linguistics, literature, cultural studies, second language acquisition, philosophy, history – as scholars in the humanities in general – must we indeed in some way come to terms with identity as an analytical category? What are our preliminary conclusions in thinking about identity? What are the alternatives? What are the questions that we should consider?
We invite critical reflections on the relevance of identity studies in general as well as contributions that ask questions of identity that relate to German and/or Dutch, broadly defined. Explorations can include, but are not limited to the following:
Theoretical Discussions of Identity
identity as a philosophical and/or political concept; theories of identity in linguistics, cultural studies, literary studies, second language studies, gender studies, queer studies, disability studies, age studies, posthuman studies, etc.; the impact of various “turns” (linguistic turn, spatial turn, mobility turn, etc.) on our understanding of identity formation and identity politics, premodern, modern and postmodern conceptions of self and other, identity and representation, identity construction and performativity theory, rhetorics of identity
Questions of Identity in Literature and Cultural Studies
national literatures and dissenting voices, negotiations of identity through minority literature, reading against the canon and alternative narratives, theater and performance studies, literatures of migration, identity politics, border studies, collective identities and their role in diaspora politics, nationalism and national identities, issues of non-recognition and violence, oppression, minority politics
Identity in Second Language Acquisition
balancing student identities in the foreign language classroom, learner diversity and multicultural learning environments, foreign language teacher identity, Communities of Practice, sojourner identities/identities in study abroad contexts, the acquisition and use of second language pragmatics
Identity and Linguistics
language policy and language use in multicultural societies; language contact; conversation analysis; ethnolects, sociolects, or dialects as markers of inclusion and exclusion; national languages and minority languages; negotiation of linguistic identity in bilingual/multilingual communities; multilingualism; language and the construction of migrant identities; social factors of language maintenance and shift
Please submit abstracts (300 words maximum) to email@example.com by no later than January 5, 2011 (extended deadline!).
We welcome submissions from a broad range of disciplines. The primary language of the conference will be English, however papers in German or Dutch are also welcome. Submissions should not bear the author’s name. Please include the following information as a separate attachment: name, title of paper, department and university affiliation, address, phone number and e-mail address.
We expect to send notifications of acceptance by early January 2011. The conference organizers will assist in securing accommodations for conference participants, and there will also be the option of staying with UW-Madison graduate students. Further details will be provided at the time of acceptance.
Please contact any of the committee members with potential questions or concerns:
Friederike Fichtner firstname.lastname@example.org
Joel Kaipainen email@example.com
Karolina May-Chu firstname.lastname@example.org
Charlie Webster email@example.com
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