Past Events

<< back to current events


A work-in-progress talk:
Developing a Counter Narrative – Contemporary German literature between assimilation and recognition
By: Judith Lechner

Alev Tekinay - The Telescope

In 2010 Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel declared that the “Multikulti” experiment has failed. This provocative statement addressed to Germany’s large Muslim community stirred up a new controversy reviving the old stereotypes of the “un-assimilable foreigner;” a narrative particularly perpetuated by right-wing conservatives in Germany. This narrative shifts the responsibility for integration solely onto “the stranger;” it is his or her duty to “fit in.” However, as I will argue, mechanisms of recognition are of a dialectical nature and successful assimilation also depends on whether “The Other” is accepted by the hegemonic culture.
This talk explores the dynamics of recognition and how these dynamics are translated into literary texts dealing with issues of multiculturalism in everyday encounters, attempting to move away from evaluating statistics and providing a more personalized account of the forces of assimilation.
The center of the talk is a close reading of Turkish author Alev Tekinay’s short story The Telescope (1986). Tekinay’s short story provides a disillusioning insight into an intercultural marriage revealing a cultural ignorance and arrogance dominating intercultural encounters. This talk explores the mechanisms of assimilation as well as its literary depiction.
The center of analysis is focused on the aspect of naming and the cultural meaning of names. Here the cultural implication of names as well as the agency of those who hold the power to name will be explored. Key questions I am exploring are: In how far do names express a particular cultural belonging and make the characters legible? How does the naming process determine this legibility and thereby reveal the power of cultural recognition? How does the writer use this aspect to support her argument of the harmfulness of assimilation?

Click here to read the story the talk is about.

This talk will be held in English. Translations of the quotes will be provided.

3:30pm, Friendly 109


Professor Kenneth Calhoon will give a work-in-progress lecture titled "About-Face: Erich Auerbach and the Physiognomy of Character"

Click here to read the abstract.

4:00pm, Villard 312


Robert Mottram presents: "Summoning the Phantasmic: Vampirism in Novalis's 'Hymnen an die Nacht' and Nietzsche"

This presentation takes as its departure point the valences of the figure of the vampire in a stage direction in Part II of Goethe’s Faust, in Nietzsche’s corpus, and in Novalis’s Hymnen an die Nacht in order to uncover a text at work in the Hymnen that, in foregrounding the materiality of language, disrupts its narrativization of a Romantic religion. Part deconstructive reading of the Hymnen and part examination of the relationship of Novalis to Nietzsche, my exploration of textual materiality demonstrates how the Romantic ideal of an organic language that “originates like flowers” relies on the resurrection of dead matter: language as writing. This perversion constitutive of the rhetoric of organicism is literally punctuated in the Hymnen, in which a suggestive couplet pairs absolute fulfillment with absolute vacuity: “Zu suchen haben wir nichts mehr – / Das Herz ist satt – die Welt ist leer.” A syntactic puzzle, the dash separating and linking the two halves of the second verse functions according to Derrida’s “logic of the hymen,” in which a mechanism that feigns identity between two incommensurables pits corporality against textual machinery. My argument is that Novalis’s emphasis on both the body and the materiality of the text forms the poles of an inexorable tension that disrupts the more general narrative levels of the Hymnen in their explication of a Romantic religion. This allies him with Nietzsche, whose anti-Classical sensibility toward corporality (“Wir lernen den Ekel um!”) simultaneously forms the terms of critique waged on Novalis and the haunting by that same figure to which Nietzsche is relentlessly subjected.

3:30-5:00pm, Friendly 109


Film screening, lecture, discussion and community round table featuring German filmmaker Christian Petzold's 2012 film Barbara and guest speaker Professor Roger Cook from the University of Missouri, Columbia. Film screening to take place from 1 p.m. To 3 p.m., lecture to be held from 3 to 3:45 p.m. and Community Roundtable from 4 to 5 p.m. Open to the public. Refreshments provided.

1:00-5:00pm, Global Scholars Hall 117


Guest Lecture by Professor Cornelius Partsch, Western Washington University, Bellingham on Good-Bye Lenin!

6:00pm, McKenzie 240A


German author Martin Jankowski will read exerpts from his "Wenderoman" Rabet, a novel about life and events around the time of the German unification.

6:00pm, McKenzie 240A


Professor Dr. Frauke Berndt's workshop and reception.

3:30-5:30pm, Friendly 109


Professor Dr. Frauke Berndt, DAAD Guest Professor and Head of German Studies at Eberhardt Karls University of Tübingen will give a lecture titled "Beautiful Suffering: Friedrich Schiller and Contemporary German Photography"

5:00-6:30pm, Global Scholars Hall 117

Click here for more information


Peter Gontrum Lecture Series Presents:
Leslie Morris, Associate Professor of German at the University of Minnesota, will give a lecture titled "Reading German-Jewish Poetry, Tangentially"

3:30-5:30pm, Knight Library Browsing Room

Click here for more information


Davide Stimilli, associate professor of German and comparative literature at the University of Colorado at Boulder will give a lecture titled "The Size of Life: On Franz Kafka and Orson Welles"

4:00pm, Lawrence 115

Click here for more information


Davide Stimilli, associate professor of German and comparative literature at the University of Colorado at Boulder will give a lecture titled "The Moment of the Face: Rembrandt, Aby Warburg, and Orson Welles"

4:00pm, Knight Library Browsing Room

Click here for more information


Job Market Workshop

3:30-5:00pm, Friendly 109


Spring Commencement

University Graduation Celebration in Matthew Knight Arena - 9:30-11:00am

German and Scandinavian Department Ceremony in EMU Ballroom-3:00pm

Lodging Info

Note: Hotels are selling out quickly due to track and field events so book your rooms as early as possible!


Department of German and Scandinavian Spring Celebration.

3:00-5:00pm, Knight Library Browsing Room

Click here for more information


Nicholas Reynolds Presents: "Sense and Creative Labor in Rilke's Prose."
This colloquium will present the introduction of Nicholas' dissertation, which is a run-through of the philosophers and theorists that he has used in formulating his reading of Rilke's prose works.

3:30-5:30pm, Friendly 109


Come listen to Peter Fogtdal's talk, titled "How to be Spiritual Without Being a Nuisance."

5:30-6:30pm, Willamette 110

Click here for more information


Join the department in celebrating Interim Department Head Dorothee Ostmeier's new book “Gender, Sex, Liebe in poetischen Dialogen des frühen zwanzigsten Jahrhunderts."

3:30-5:00pm, Grad Lounge, Susan Campbell Hall

Click here for more information


Eva Hoffman presents:
Animality in Hofmannsthal's "Reitergeschichte." This colloquium focuses on the question of animality in Hofmannsthal's "Reitergeschichte" in the context of Merleau-Ponty and Derrida.


3:30-5:30pm, Friendly 109


"What is a Thing? -- Key Responses in Modern German Literature and Thought"
Presented by the Department of German and Scandinavian

“We look everywhere for the Absolute (das Unbedingte), and find only things (Dinge).”
-Novalis, Blütenstaub (1798)

Guest Lectures by:

Jonathan Monroe, Cornell University
David Appelbaum, State University of New York at New Paltz
Rochelle Tobias, John Hopkins University
Tove Holmes, McGill University
Timothy Gilmore, University of California at Santa Barbara
Erica Weitzmann, University of California at Berkeley

Click here for more information.
Click here to view the pamphlet.

12:00-6:00pm, Knight Browsing Room, Knight Library


Judith Lechner presents "Putting Recognition to the Test: Maxim Biller's Manipulation of Perception in Wie Cramer anständig wurde"

“Well…we could just simply pretend we are not Jewish anymore,” suggests Max to Ali, while the two young friends are on their way to Poland to find their deported parents and relatives. Max is certain that they can simply change their own cultural identity, however, when the two encounter a SS soldier on a mission, this option is only available for one of the boys.
As I will show, Biller’s short story provides an insight in the process of identity ascription and its dialogical process. In the story “agency” and “recognition” are presented as arbitrary and limited. It shows how the power of identity ascription often lies outside of our range of influence, leaving us helplessly at the mercy of someone else’s judgment that under extreme circumstances could decide between life and death.
Biller’s story showcases such an extreme situation and confronts us with the question of how our decision making process is tied to our superficial perception and how a seductive narrator can even manipulate the most experienced reader.

Click here to read Biller's Land der Väter und Verräter

3:30pm, FR 109


Jacob Barto presents "Hearing History: The Real Role of Music in Hesse's Glasperlenspiel"

more info

7:00pm, Lawrence Hall 177, Free Admission


Robert Mottram presents "The Fractured Seascape: Dionysian Mimesis in Novalis and J.M.W. Turner"

more info

3:30-5:30pm, Friendly 109


Sabine Gölz from the University of Iowa visits to present:
"Stars, Bear, and the Apocalypse: Poetics of (De)Gendering Language"

2:00pm, Coquille, Metolius, River Rooms in the Erb Memorial Union (EMU)


Dorothee Ostmeier presents: "The Grimms' Concept of Nature as Healing Fiction"

12:00pm, PLC 159


"Rosenzweig's Hölderlin"

This presentation will feature work from Josiah Simon's dissertation, "Franz Rosenzweig's Hegel and the State: Biography, History and Tragedy."  The talk will address the role that Friedrich Hölderlin plays in Rosenzweig's account of Hegel's intellectual development and look more closely at Hölderlin's poem "An die Deutschen" (To the Germans) and two selections from that poem that Rosenzweig uses as the epigraphs for his book. If interested, please make use of the preparatory materials below:

Hegel und der Staat
An die Duetschen

3:30pm-5:30pm, Friendly 109

OCTOBER 24-26, 2013

52nd Annual Conference of The Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy (SPEP)
Co-sponsored by the Department of German and Scandinavian
Eugene Hilton Hotel
details | website

OCTOBER 24, 2013

The Golem: How He Came Into the World (1920) re-tells the Jewish legend of a magical clay man. A 16th century Jewish rabbi is driven to extreme measures by an emperor’s edict to evict all Jews from their ghetto. The rabbi turns to black magic and builds a huge clay man to protect his people from the emperor’s oppression, which comes to life through the device of a secret word given to the rabbi by the demon Astaroth. The barrel-chested clay man, portrayed by the film’s director Paul Wegener, follows the orders of the rabbi to eventually intimidate and ultimately save the emperor who revokes his edict. But before the magic that animates the clay man can be sent back to the dark forces from which it came, the golem is misused and runs rampant, terrorizing the people he was intended to protect.

4:00pm, Collier House Rm 103
Accompanied by live music from composer/pianist Beth Ariel Karp.