News & Events

2015 German Studies Conference, Feb 28 – Mar 1

Confronting Obstacles in Language, Media, Politics and Culture
Interdisciplinary German Studies Conference
February 28th – March 1st, 2015
Location: DWINELLE 370

Guest Speaker: Clemens Ruthner
Special Guest Speaker: Claire Kramsch

Barriers are an intrinsic element of society, and the ability to negotiate them forms the basis for progress, conflict or stagnation. But barriers are more than politics, nationality or ideology. In contrast to borders which establish a fixed partition between two or more objects, the barrier exists in a state of multiplicity and flux: the negotiation of a single barrier simply reveals the existence of further barriers to come. The purpose of this conference is to reevaluate the barrier in its plurality, identify new and historical points of contention and question the traditional view that obstacles exist to be overcome.



Friday, February 27th,

18:00 (Dwinelle 370)
Two shorts by Harun Farocki: Arbeiter verlassen die Fabrik (1995) and I Thought I Was Seeing Convicts (2000)

Saturday, February 28th,

9:00 – 9:10
Opening Remarks
Jon Cho-Polizzi

9:10 – 10:00
Theories of Barriers
“Identity and Space in Emine Sevgi Özdamar’s “Der Hof im Spiegel” by Julia Koxholt

Julia earned her B.A. in English/American Studies and German Studies at the Christian-Albrechts-University in Kiel, and her M.A. in the Germanic Studies program at the University of Illinois at Chicago She is currently enrolled in the PhD program in Germanic Studies at UIC.

“The functioning of borders: Mikhail Bakhtin and Homi Bhabha” by Irina Gugushina

Irina received her B.A. in Linguistics and Translation at the Ural State University in Yekaterinburg, Russia. She is a graduate student in Comparative Literature at the State University of New York, Binghamton.

10 min break

10:20 – 11:40
Migration, Integration and Transnation

“Sea Journeys to Fortress Europe: Voicing Barriers in Multilingual Texts by José F.A. Oliver and Caroline Bergvall” by Aine McMurtry

Áine received her doctorate from Queen’s College in Oxford and has taught at the Universities of Oxford, Durham and St. Andrews. She is a tenured lecturer in German at King’s College London.

Structural Unfreedoms in Kleine Freiheit” by Amanda Hatch

Amanda received her B.A. in German Studies, Anthropology and Classics at the University of Cincinnati, where she is currently enrolled in the MA program in the Department of German Studies.

Genre-crossers, self-translators and transnational barrier pioneers” by Agate Joanna Lagiewka

Agate is a Doctoral Research Fellow with the Wirth Institute for Austrian and Central European Studies at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada and holds a degree in German Studies, English Studies and Cultural Studies with the University of Vienna and the University of Barcelona.

11:40 – 13:00

Lunch (provided)

13:00 -14:00
Circulation Across Borders

Barriers as Catalysts: The Reception of Stefan Zweig in China” by Arnhilt Johanna Hoefle

Arnhilt is an Erwin Schrödinger Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley. She received her doctorate in Comparative Literature from the University of London after studying in both Vienna and Beijing.

“Migration and Integration of Muslims in German Problem-oriented Children’s Literature (from 5 to 12 years)” by Radwa Imam

Radwa is a lecturer at Ain Shams University in Cairo, where she received her doctorate in German Studies with an additional emphasis on Arabic and Spanish Studies. She is a member of the research group Trafo 4 which researches topics of interculturalism in the German-Arabic context.

20 min break

14:20 – 15:20
Boundaries of the Body

Die Ungleichheit des Leibes. Intersektionale Diskursgeflechte in den Romanen der deutschsprachigen Neuen Weltliteratur by Stephanie Lavorano

Stephanie is a doctoral candidate at the Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen. She received her M.A. from the Eberhard-Karls-Universität Tübingen in New German Literature, Rhetoric and Philosophy.

“On Pain of Humanity: The Unavoidable Confluence of Body & Self” by Kasina Entzi

Kasina is a doctoral candidate at Indiana University in Bloomington, where she also received her M.A. She completed her B.A. at the University of Denver.

10 min break

15:30 – 17:00

Guest Speaker: Clemens Ruthner

Dinner and Wine Reception


Sunday, March 1st

9:30 – 10:30
Space and Confinement

“In Darkness: The Bunker as Barrier in Narrative and Architecture” by Naomi Vaughan

Naomi is a doctoral candidate in the Department of German Studies at the University of Michigan. She received her B.A. in Germanics and English at the University of Washington and her M.A. from the University of Chicago.

Alley-grave: Language as an inside boundary of the ghetto in Der Schrei, den niemand hört! by Else Feldmann”

by Christina Färber

Christina is a doctoral candidate at the Peter-Szondi-Institut at FU Berlin. She studied comparative literature and German literature at Ludwig-Maximlians-Universität München.

20 min break

10:50 – 11:50
Institutions and Access

Up in the Air: Contamination and Decidability in The Trial” by Sarah Harris

Sarah is a PhD student in German at the University of California, Berkeley. She received her M.A. in German Literature from NYU and her B.A. in Linguistics from Dartmouth College.

Beyond Canonical Barriers: Harun Farocki’s Theory of a New Image Type” by Martin Blumenthal-Barby

Martin is Assistant Professor of German and Film Studies at Rice University. He received his doctorate from Yale University in 2008.

11:50 – 13:00
Lunch Break

13:00 – 14:00
Movement and Stagnation

“Regarding multiculturalism as a barrier” by Lukas Labuda

Lukas is a doctoral candidate at the University of Ss. Cyril and Methodius in Trnava, Slovakia, where he also received his M.A. and B.A. in history and philosophy.

“Static and Dynamic Representations of Language Barriers in Middle High German Epics” by Christopher Hench

Christopher Hench is a PhD student in German Literature and Culture at the University of California, Berkeley. He received his M.A. in German and Scandinavian Studies from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and his B.A. in German and Economics from Middlebury College.

20 min break

14:20 – 15:50
Special Guest Speaker: Claire Kramsch

Closing Remarks

Alicia Roy and Cara Tovey



This conference was made possible by generous donations from the following departments, programs, institutes and organizations:

German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD)

Doreen B. Townsend Center for Humanities

Goethe Institute: San Francisco

Institute of European Studies

Department of History

Department of Linguistics

Department of English

Program in Folklore

Department of Spanish & Portuguese

Department of German