1- 3 December 2004
Literary Value and Canon Formation
in the German Tradition after Postmodernism
CONFERENCE AT THE INSTITUTE OF GERMANIC STUDIES, UNIVERSITY OF LONDON
Professor Nicholas Saul (Durham) and Dr Ricarda Schmidt (Manchester)
Wilhelm Raabe, major German novelist between Goethe and Fontane? Hermann
Hesse, heavyweight of the Weimar Republic? On the reading list: Sealsfield,
May and Sacher-Masoch - but not Stifter, Storm or Meyer? Özdamar and Sabine
Dietmer or Ingrid Noll instead of Morgner or Bachmann?
Today, despite the best efforts of literary theoreticians from Müller-Seidel
to Heydebrand, we seem less sure than ever what a good book is, whether
there are good books, which form essential reading for scholars and students
- or even whether literature should be an object of study. Of course, German
Studies has moved in response to shifts in the media landscape and to the
pluralism and relativism of postmodern value systems. But can today's
comfortable relativism really serve as its own intellectual foundation? And
have the moves to form different literary - or non-literary - canons really
We invite contributions on issues in the theory and practice of literary
value and canon formation in the German tradition. Case studies on
particular writers or texts would be especially welcome. Topics to be
covered might fall under the following general rubrics:
1. What is literary value? If, following post-structuralism, the
identity of both subjects and objects is an ontological and cognitive
illusion, should we dispense with the notion of literary value altogether?
2. The advantages and disadvantages of specific paradigms of evaluation
3. The theory and practice of post-structuralist literary evaluation.
Has 'the pleasure of the text' turned into 'symbolic capital'?
4. Literary canonicity today
5. The place of literary study in today's Germanistik
Keynote speakers include Manfred Engel, Renate von Heydebrand, Sara Lennox,
Frank Möbus, Walter Müller-Seidel, Roger Paulin, David Wellbery.
Exposés of not more than 300 words (in English or German) should be sent by
31 October 2003 to: Professor Nicholas Saul <[log in to unmask]> ,
Department of German, School of Modern European Languages, University of
Durham, Elvet Riverside, New Elvet, GB-Durham DH1 3JT, or Dr Ricarda Schmidt
<[log in to unmask]> , Department of German Studies, Arts Building,
University of Manchester, Oxford Road, GB-Manchester M13 9PL.
INSTITUTE OF GERMANIC STUDIES
University of London School of Advanced Study
29 Russell Square, London WC1B 5DP
Tel: +44 (0)20- 7862 8965/6
Fax: +44 (0)20- 7862 8970
E-mail: [log in to unmask]