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Workshop events 2011-12

WARWICK WORKSHOP FOR INTERSDISCIPLINARY GERMAN STUDIES

2011-12

All papers at 5.10 pm in H202, Humanities Building (unless stated otherwise)

All welcome!

TERM 1

1 November (week 5):

Mia Lee (Department of History, Warwick):

'Art and Politics in West Germany: The Cultural Origins of 1968'

This talk will focus on Munich and the art group Spur. By beginning a story of 1968 in Bavaria in the mid-1950s, it becomes possible to revisit the notion of West Germany’s ‘zero hour’ and elaborate on the key local conditions that fostered extraparliamentary protest in West Germany. This case study illustrates how postwar avant-garde groups acted as a bridge to interwar and early-20th century art and political movements, and, in the process, recovered an avant-garde political mission for the arts. Spur’s eponymous journal further showcases the importance of Munich during this historical juncture. The city’s Catholic heritage and conservative approach to the arts were key issues informing Spur’s confrontational orientation.

Image and poster from the presentation.

22 November (week 8):

Katharina Karcher (PhD student in the German Department)

‘Frauen erhebt euch, und die Welt erlebt euch!’: Female participation in the armed struggle in West Germany in the 1970s - from the 'Red Army Faction' to the 'Red Zora'

The talk provides an overview of my research on female participation in the armed struggle in West Germany in the 1970s, and presents first findings of the qualitative study. My research project focuses on women’s active involvement in four militant leftist groups: The Red Army Faction, the Movement of June 2, the Revolutionary Cells, and the Red Zora. While there were significant ideological, organisational and strategic differences between these groups, all evince a remarkably high proportion of female members. Drawing on a variety of sources such as press coverage, court files, statements by former group members and interviews, my dissertation offers a gender sensitive analysis of women’s roles in these organisations and in concrete manifestations of political violence.

Poster from the presentation

29 November (week 9):

James Hodkinson (Department of German Studies, Warwick):

'Representations of Islam in Cultural and Political Discourses of the Long Nineteenth Century: Cosmopolitan Idealism or Essentialist Nationalism?'

Only in the last two decades have the dynamics and scope of Germany’s contribution to ‘Orientalist’ culture been given full and complex treatment. From out of these broader concerns the interest in the specifically Islamic in German culture has grown. Conventionally, thought of as an interest of the Enlightenment, which fell out of vogue when nineteenth-century German Orientalists, be they philologists, linguists or literary writers, became more captivated by the notion of Germany’s place within a Pan-Aryan family of cultures and languages embracing the Indian sub continent, Islam appeared to vanish from German thought.

Whilst writing about Islam did fade from most high literary discourse after the 1830-s, it merely migrated into other areas. Pilgrimages, military deployments, political postings, research trips and the growth of popular tourism took German speakers to Islamic lands and generated a wide range of travel writing. This was paralleled by the growth, post 1860, of the discipline of university Islamistik (Islamic Studies). How, though was Islam presented? The notion of Germans as non-colonial, as world-citizens, whose nationality was characterised by their transnational outlook, exists in tension with a very different paradigm, evident both in politics and scholarship, which sought to distil the essential differences that ostensibly defined cultures. This paper locates Germanic constructions of Islam within a field of tension between idealist cosmopolitanism and more essentialist constructions, which served German national-cultural interests at aesthetic, intellectual and political levels.

TERM 3

Thursday 17 May (week 4), 5-7 pm, Ramphal R1.13

PUBLIC LECTURE

(hosted by the Departments of German Studies, Italian and History)

Geoff Eley (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor)

'Fascism, Everydayness, and the Spectacle: The Staging of History under the Third Reich'

This lecture interrogates the perception of fascism’s public self-representation as pre-dominantly a certain kind of visually imposing spectacle, whether in the artfully stage-managed newsreel and photographic record of the time, in the countless cinematic and documentary representations since, or in recent scholarly treatments of the “aesthetics of power,” from Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph des Willens [1935] to Peter Reichel’s Der schöne Schein des Dritten Reiches [1991] or Simonetta Falasca-Zamponi’s Fascist Spectacle [1997]. Walter Benjamin’s aestheticization thesis – “the logical result of fascism is the introduction of aesthetics into political life” – has become our default way of understanding how fascism in Hitler’s Germany sought to visualize itself. Certainly many photographs from this era bear out this view of a fascist aesthetic of ardent presence where beautiful spectacle fills in the spaces of social alienation.

But how far must we continue to think within these same terms? Is there a necessary connection between the photography of presence and fascism as a political structure? What happens if we shift the perspective elsewhere by developing a different lens to consider other aspects of fascism or another kind of fascism? How might we rethink the spectacular photographic presences in Germany? How might an understanding of the way absences, the unseen as well as the seen, serve fascism permit us to ask what is absent from Nazi photography? How might this comparison enable us to complicate the Benjamin-derived trope of aestheticization?

2-3 June, IAS Seminar Room, Millburn House

INTERDISCIPLINARY WORKSHOP

(hosted by the Departments of History, Sociology and German Studies)

Conceptions of Jewishness – Beyond Essentialised Identities

Click here for the PROGRAMME

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