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1. Ana-Isabel Aliaga-Buchenau, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, firstname.lastname@example.org
I am currently Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Previously, I have taught at the University of Southern Mississippi and Davidson College. My Ph.D. is from UNC Chapel Hill and I worked with literacy and reading in nineteenth-century narratives in my dissertation. Currently, I am starting a new project which compares German immigrant women who come to the United States and Mexico in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
"'A Time He Could Not Bear to Say Any More About': Presence and Absence of the Narrator in W. G. Sebald's The Emigrants"
In W. G. Sebald's The Emigrants the narrator presents a fictional autobiography in which four emigrants play major roles. However, the narrator's own story of emigration remains strangely absent form the whole. While the narrator chronicles in detail his life at the time of meeting with or his further research into the life of the emigrants he does not divulge his own story of emigration. This absence is mirrored by another large absence both in the frame story as well as the individual stories of the emigrants: the Holocaust is the shadow that hangs over each one of the lives the narrator encounters and it also has shaped his own life. However, none of the emigrants refer openly to the horrors of the Holocaust, and the narrator does not take up the subject in a direct manner either. Both the absence of the emigration story of the narrator and the absence of a discussion of the Holocaust parallel another absence: that of the voice of the narrator. In this paper, I examine the curious interplay of absence and presence of the narrator.
2. Maya Barzilai, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, email@example.com
Maya Barzilai is currently a graduate student in Comparative Literature at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, specializing in late 20th-century German and Israeli literature. The working title of her dissertation is "The Culture of Emigration: Photography, Memory, and Narrative in the Works of W.G. Sebald and Ronit Matalon".
"Photography and Traumatic Memory in W.G. Sebald's The Emigrants and Austerlitz"
Photography, as a medium that freezes the moment in what Roland Barthes calls "an intense immobility", plays a crucial role in W. G. Sebald's fictions of dislocation and loss. The black-and-white photographs intertwined in Sebald's narratives can be considered emblematic of the return of traumatic memory in the form of fragmentary visions and recollections that have not been integrated into present experience, and are therefore preserved in a lucid and exact manner despite the significant gaps in time. Invoking Freud's understanding the uncanny "return of the dead", as well as Barthes' adaptation of this notion in his Camera Lucida, I examine the complex employment of haunting "tokens of absence" in Sebald's renderings of his emigrants' fraught lives.
3. Karin Bauer, McGill University, Karin.Bauer@mcgill.ca
Karin Bauer is associate professor and Chair of the Department of German Studies at McGill University. Her book entitled Adorno's Nietzschean Narratives: Critiques of Ideology; Readings of Wagner was published in 1999 by SUNY Press. She has published articles on a variety of thinkers and writers, including Ingeborg Bachmann, Jürgen Habermas, Edgar Hilsenrath, Botho Strauß, Herta Müller, and Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche. Presently she is concluding a study on Förster-Nietzsche and is involved in a research project on the Baader-Meinhof myth in German literature, film, art, and popular culture.
"The Terrrible Connectedness of Histories and Identities in W.G. Sebalds Austerlitz"
This paper explores how literary figures of modern wanderers, such as Nietzsches "good European" and Benjamins flaneur serve as paradigmatic notions and cultural codes that inform, enrich, and contrast to our understanding of the trauma, limitations, and possibilities of the contemporary image of the European as exemplified by Sebalds Austerlitz. As a negative imprint of the lost ideal of the good European, the cosmopolitan, and the flaneur, Austerlitzs story is symptomatic for the emotional and intellectual void, the disruptions, and dislocations of postwar Europe. Crossing seemingly permeable borders between urban and rural spaces, countries, cultures, and identities, Austerlitz is a urban nomad and wandering Jew damaged by history and the very forces against which Nietzsche and Benjamin constructed their images of the modern and cosmopolitan European.
4. Jan Ceuppens, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jan Ceuppens, born 1964, studied German, Dutch and philosophy at the Catholic University of Leuven. Since 1987 he has taught German at the applied linguistics department of Vlekho/Hogeschool voor Wetenschap en Kunst in Brussels, training future translators and interpreters. He teaches courses in literature, proficiency, general and specialised translation. From 1995 to 2000, he participated in the Lacan research group "Cesuur" in Ghent. Since 1997 he has been a board member of the Belgian Germanist's Association (Belgischer Germanisten- und Deutschlehrerverband) as well as co-editor of its scientific periodical, Germanistische Mitteilungen. Principal research interests are the literature of modernism and the interplay between psychoanalysis, philosophy and literature. He is currently preparing a Ph. D. on W. G. Sebald's Die Ausgewanderten (working title "Erinnerung, Intertextualität und Identität bei W. G. Sebald"; Dr. Bart Philipsen, Leuven, supervisor).
"Nachgezeichnet, nacherzählt, nachgeschrieben": the Ethics of Representation in W.G. Sebald's The Emigrants
What this paper intends to focus on is the question of an adequate representation of biographies in Sebald's The Emigrants. In this novel, questions of representation inevitably call up ethical questions, all the more so, since The Emigrants so obviously refers to the destruction of European Jewry, without however addressing this issue directly - a consequence, it would seem, of a double bind: having to bear witness to something which defies recounting. It is therefore no surprise that some reviewers of The Emigrants have criticized the author's approach. As such ethical questions have gained prominence in the last decade or so, a central point of reference has consistently been the work of Emmanuel Lévinas, whose work should however be applied with great care to literary studies, judging from recent British and American publications (Newton, Eaglestone, Critchley, Robbins). Nevertheless, reading Lévinas' later work, with its emphasis on the tension between the "Saying" and the "Said", could turn out to be fruitful in this respect, since it takes into account the problem of finding an adequate language for the Other. What is at stake, then, is the unavoidable responsibility for an Other, who defies any discursive (or "ontological") categorisation. The complexity of Sebald's texts can be considered an attempt to do justice to this state of affairs - or rather: they more or less consciously comment upon the necessary injustice of any representation, incidently passing on this responsibility to the reader. Sebald's (or his narrator's) procedure is made explicit from the beginning of The Emigrants, when in the story of Dr. Henry Selwyn a paper clipping on the discovery of Swiss mountain guide Johannes Naegeli's body is inserted: the return of the dead as an event which is partially constructed by the narrator, and partially "befalls" him as an effect of narrating and writing. Similar paragraphs occur in the other stories which make up The Emigrants. In Paul Bereyter, after rejecting an earlier attempt to empathise (i.e. identify) with the deceased, a more sober and "objective" account is chosen, whereas in Ambros Adelwarth, the grand-uncle's travel journal is used as point of departure. The clearest evidence for the narrator's scrupulous approach of his "subject matter", however, can be found in Max Aurach/Ferber, where an obvious parallel is drawn between the artist's technique of drawing, erasing and adding new layers, and the writer's constant rewriting of the story his "model" has provided him with. This procedure, however, is further complicated by references to Nabokov's Speak, Memory, Kafka's Hunter Gracchus and Stendhals De l'amour and, through these, Sebald's own Vertigo, which also serves as a subtext for The Emigrants.
5. David Darby, University of Western Ontario, email@example.com
David Darby is associate professor of German and Comparative Literature at the University of Western Ontario. He is the author of Structures of Disintegration: Narrative Strategies in Elias Canetti's Die Blendung (1992) and has published various articles on modern German literature and on narrative theory. He is also the editor of Essays on Elias Canetti (2000). His current research addresses the connections between landscape, memory, and image in nineteenth- and twentieth-century literature.
"Landscape, Photography, Memory: W.G. Sebald's Imagination of History"
This paper considers the connections between landscape, image, and memory in Die Ringe des Saturn in relation to representative texts of realist and modernist German landscape writing. Taking works by Theodor Fontane and Walter Benjamin as its frame of reference, it considers how movement through landscape and the fixing of history in visual metaphors and actual images are essential to the deliberate (re)construction of personal and collective-historical memory. In addressing the relationship of the images in Sebald's text to the surrounding narrative, it examines their disruption of a self-consciously literary project and the suggestion in their auratic authenticity of an immediate connection to a knowable past. Sebald, like his realist and modernist predecessors, focuses in Die Ringe des Saturn primarily on the nineteenth century, its changing landscape, and the future it heralded. His melancholy, late twentieth-century landscape is inhabited by the shadows of lost and dislocated lives and is composed, like Saturn's rings or the scene faced by Benjamin's angel, of the rubble of worlds that are no more. Even as it dissolves and is lost to time and tide, however, its constituent stories are spun and woven anew. The nature, coherence, and effect of the resultant re-imagining of history are central concerns of this paper.
6. Scott Denham, Davidson College, firstname.lastname@example.org (symposium organizer, volume co-editor; homepage)
Scott Denham is associate professor of German at Davidson College. He studied at the University of Chicago (B.A.), at Marburg, the Freie Universität Berlin, and took his Ph.D. from Harvard in 1990. His interests lie mainly in German and Austrian cultural and literary history of the twentieth century, especially from the periods of the Weimar Republic and the Third Reich; he has written and lectured on German cultural studies, Ernst Jünger, Kafka, Friedrich Torberg, war literature, the Holocaust, modernism, interdisciplinarity, and German film. He is the author of Visions of War, a study of German fiction form the years surrounding the First World War, and co-editor of A User's Guide to German Cultural Studies.
He is the primary organizer of this Symposium "W.G. Sebald: Works and Influences," which is the Third Occasional Davidson Symposium on German Studies and the co-editor of the volume of essays based on papers given at the Sebald Symposium.
7. Gerald Fetz, University of Montana, email@example.com
Gerald Fetz is Dean of the University of Montana's Davidson Honors College and Professor of German Studies. He also currently serves as Secretary/Treasurer and member of the Executive Committee of the German Studies Association. Fetz has published extensively on 20th Century German-language literature and culture, most recently on MartinWalser, Thomas Bernhard, Literature after the Wende, and Lilian Faschinger. His most recent book, Martin Walser, appeared in Metzler Verlag (1997), and he is currently completing, as editor, a volume titled Thomas Bernhard: Retrospective Essays for Ariadne Press, and is working on a book on W.G. Sebald for Camden House.
"The Relationship Between Sebald's Non-fictional Essays and His Essayistic Fiction"
In my presentation I intend to look closely at the relationships between the two major types of Sebald's writings, his scholarly essays, on the one hand, and what I choose to refer to here as his essayistic fiction on the other. Most of the enthusiastic response to Sebald's work in the latter category has appeared relatively unaware (or uninterested?) in his work as an academic critic and prolific essayist that preceded and even accompanied it. My basic contention for this paper is that interest in and appreciation of the one category (fiction, represented by the works Vertigo, The Emigrants, The Rings of Saturn, and Austerlitz) should not overshadow or preclude interest in and appreciation of the other (essayistic non-fiction); in fact, attempts to view the one group as separate from or significantly unrelated to the other overlook their profound similarities. By discussing Sebald's intentions and approaches within both groups of works (as these are usually viewed by critics and commentators), I hope to demonstrate that reading them as pieces of a continuous whole leads to greater insights, understanding, and appreciation for the individual works as well as for the entire body of Sebald's publications. I will draw here especially from his essay collections Die Beschreibung des Unglücks. Zur österreichischen Literatur von Stifter bis Handke (1985) and Unheimliche Heimat. Essays zur österreichischen Literatur (1991), as well as the later collection Logis in einem Landhaus (1998), and from the four fictional works listed above, Vertigo (Schwindel. Gefühle), The Emigrants (Die Emigranten), The Rings of Saturn (Die Ringe des Saturn), and Austerlitz (same title in English).
8. Ruth Franklin, The New Republic, firstname.lastname@example.org
Ruth Franklin started at The New Republic as assistant managing editor in July 1999 and became associate literary editor in February 2001. A Baltimore native, she received a B.A. in English from Columbia University in 1995 and an M.A. in comparative literature from Harvard University in 1998. She has also studied at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland. Before joining The New Republic, she worked in The New York Times' Warsaw bureau and was a writer and editor for the Let's Go travel guide series. Her writing has also appeared in The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post Book World, and the London Review of Books. Her new essay on Sebald's After Nature in the Sept. 23rd issue of The New Republic is here. Her recent essay on Primo Levi in The New Republic is here.
"Sebald and the Amateur"
Though Sebald was himself an academic, there is surprisingly little in the way of critical Sebald studies. He has, however, been unusually well represented in journalism: lengthy and serious pieces have appeared in The New York Review of Books, The New Yorker, and The New Republic. My paper will argue that the reasons underlying Sebald's warm endorsement from book reviewers are located within his work itself: in the anti-academic, or amateur, approach to study and contemplation that his books encourage. Particularly in The Rings of Saturn and Austerlitz, Sebald repeatedly portrays the pursuit of knowledge as a fundamentally individual activity grounded in a personal yearning for knowledge. By setting these models before us, Sebald's books encourage us to approach them in a similar way. And his creation of an essentially new genre means that all readers come to his work free of preconceptions. When reading Sebald, we are all amateurs.
9. Sara Friedrichsmeyer, University of Cincinnati, email@example.com
Sara Friedrichsmeyer is Professor of German and Head of the Department of German Studies at the University of Cincinnati. Author of The Androgyne in Early German Romanticism and the coedited volumes The Enlightenment and its Legacy and The Imperialist Imagination: German Colonialism and Its Legacy, she is also a past editor of The Women in German Yearbook. With a research and teaching focus on Romanticism and 20thCentury literature and culture, she has published on writers such as Friedrich Schlegel, Novalis, Caroline Schlegel Schelling, Achim von Arnim, Annette von Droste Hülshoff, Paula Modersohn Becker, Käthe Kollwitz, Christa Wolf, and Christoph Hein, as well as on a variety of professional issues.
Sebalds Elective and Other Affinities
In this paper I intend to draw on several of the many links Sebald establishes throughout his imaginative literature to writers of the past--some more deliberate than others--especially as they relate to his preoccupation with causality and the vagaries of chance. Focusing on Austerlitz, and with reference to his earlier works (primarily Die Ausgewanderten and Die Ringe des Saturn), I hope to show that his writing, although tightly imbedded within a literary tradition, is at the same time a radical challenge to Western rationalism. After demonstrating the uniqueness of his vision, I will speculate on its ramifications for German literature after 1945, specifically for literature of the Holocaust.
10. Peter Fritzsche, University of Illinois, firstname.lastname@example.org (keynote speaker; homepage; c.v.)
Professor Fritzsche specializes in modern German and European history and is a former Guggenheim and Humboldt Fellow, Professor Fritzsche's current research focuses on comparative questions of memory and identity and vernacular uses of the past in modern Europe. He is completing a book on Nostalgia and Modernity. His publications include Rehearsals for Fascism: Populism and Political Mobilization in Weimar Germany (1990); A Nation of Fliers: German Aviation and the Popular Imagination (1992); Reading Berlin 1900 (1996); Germans into Nazis (1998). With Charles C. Stewart, he edited Imagining the Twentieth Century (1997) and most recently, with Alon Confino, The Work of Memory: New Driections in the Study of German Sociaty and Culture (2002). Peter Fritzsche received his doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1986.
"Sebald's Twentieth-Century Histories."
A discussion of Sebald's view of history (in a more generic sense) and of twentieth-century history (in a more particular sense) and on the traffic between the two, looking particularly at the role of the desire for nostalgia, natural history, and the Holocaust.
11. Anne Fuchs, University College Dublin, Afuchs@eircom.net (homepage)
Anne Fuchs is Senior Lecturer in German at University College Dublin. She has published articles and papers on modern German and German-Jewish literature and travel writing. Currently, she is also leader of the research programme "Memory Wars; Cultural Memory in Post-war Germany" at the Humanities Institute of Ireland. She is author of Dramaturgie des Narrentums. Das Komische in der Prosa Robert Walsers (Munich: Fink, 1993) and A Space of Anxiety. Dislocation and Abjection in Modern German-Jewish Literature (Amsterdam etc.: Rodopi, 1999). She has edited (with Theo Harden), Reisen im Diskurs: Modelle der literarischen Fremderfahrung von den Pilgerberichten bis zur Postmoderne (Heidelberg: Carl Winter, 1995); (with Florian Krobb) Ghetto Writing. Traditional and Eastern Jewry in German-Jewish Literature from Hilsenrath to Heine (Columbia: Camden House, 1999). Furthermore, she is co-editor (with Edric Caldicott) of Cultural Memory. Essays on European Literature and History (Oxford, Bern etc.: Peter Lang, Fall 2002, forthcoming).
"'Schmerzensspuren der Geschichte': The Landscape of Memory in W.G. Sebald"
W. G. Sebald's work is uniquely concerned with the complex cross-stitching between memory and forgetting, trauma and narrative, trauma and the body. His writing is an example of what Marianne Hirsch has aptly called "postmemory," i.e. the indirect and fragmentary memory of the second and third generation whose main connection to the object is via creative processes and imaginative investment. With its high degree of intertextuality and self-reflexivity, Sebald's writing is, however, also an expression of the fundamental paradigm shift from communicative to the culturally encoded memory of the Holocaust. The death of the generation that shares first-hand experience of the era has led to a process of "officialization," that is the historicization and institutionalization of memory work through archives, museums, memorials or works of art. Undoubtedly, this transition towards a "pedagogy of remembering" poses new challenges for a poetics of remembering which attempts to tap into those alternative modes of cultural transmission that communicate through the unsaid, the sous-entendu, innuendo and silence. It is against the background of current debates on Cultural Memory that I wish to explore the problematic of naming and witnessing which underpins Sebald's poetics. Combining a largely phenomenological analysis of the question of alterity with a psychoanalytic perspective on trauma, the paper examines how Sebald attempts to reconfigure an ethical relationship between self and other by focusing on those minutiae of historical experience that are normally at the periphery of our perception. The protagonist of Austerlitz, for example, develops the notion of "Schmerzensspuren, die sich in unzähligen feinen Linien durch die Geschichte ziehen." These highly affective, even traumatic traces mark, as I wish to show, both the protagonists' mental maps as well as the physical environment, in particular buildings and landscapes. Sebald, like Levinas, understands the trace as a "summoning of myself by the other," as a non-utilitarian responsibility towards that other. By tracing these "Schmerzensspuren der Geschichte," the narrator and protagonist embark on a labyrinthine journey that maps out a topography of absence and reflects the indexicality of historical experience. Like Benjamin before him, Sebald advocates a poetics of remembering that disrupts the continuity of historical tradition.
12. Lilian Furst, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, fax: (919) 962-5166 (keynote speaker; homepage; c.v.)
Lilian R. Furst is Marcel Bataillon Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of North Carolina at Chapel HIll. After taking a Ph.D. in German at Cambridge she taught in Belfast and then in Manchester, where she knew Sebald by sight. Since coming to the USA in 1971 she has held postitions at the Universities of Oregon and Texas, and visiting appointments at Harvard, Stanford, Dartmouth, William and Mary, and Case Western Reserve. She has received Guggenheim, ACLS, NEH, National Humanities Center and Stanford Humanities Center fellowships. Most of her work has been in nineteenth-century European literature (romanticism, realism, naturalism, irony). She has also published in literature and medicine and a dual-voice autobiography (incorporating her father's manuscript), Home is Somewhere Else. She is including a section on Sebald in her current project on the portrayal in fiction of "escapees" from Central Europe in the 1930s.
"Realism, Photography, and Degrees of Uncertainty"
My paper examines the effect of the photographs intercalated in Sebald's writings, drawing on "Max Aurach," the last of the four stories in Die Ausgewanderten as my example. Photography, devised in the mid-nineteenth century, has been closely associated with realism. Photographs were tradionally taken as a reliabel record of reality, and hence as a warrany of authenticity. Some of the photographs in "Max Aurach" are readily recognizable in this way by anyone familiar with Manchester. But Sebald undercuts the realistic force of the photographs by having Aurach point out that the alleged photograph of the book burning is faked. How does this revelation, iteself presented in an unreliable chain of oral transmission, affect the credibility of teh other photographs? They function in a complex, ambivalent manner. They subvert the hyperrealism created by the profusion of precise details in Sebald's narratives by provoking degrees of uncertainty. They thereby mimic the processes of memory, objectifying the immanent disturbing penumbra and inducing in readers Schwindelgefühle.
13. Katja Garloff, Reed College, Katja.Garloff@reed.edu (department page)
I am an Assistant Professor of German and Humanities at Reed College in Portland, Oregon, where I teach courses on German Jewish culture, 20th-century German literature, German film, and critical theory. I have published articles on Robert Walser, Peter Weiss, Jean Améry, Theodor W. Adorno, Hubert Fichte, and others. I have also recently completed a book manuscript, entitled Words from Abroad: Trauma and Displacement in Postwar German Jewish Writers. Currently I am at work on a new project, tentatively entitled Tropes of Love in German Jewish Literature 1770-1930.
"Story and History in W.G. Sebald's Austerlitz"
In this paper I analyze the ways in which Sebald's great last novel entwines private story and public history. The paper builds on a recently completed article, in which I compare Sebald's commemoration of German Jewish emigrants in Die Ausgewanderten to the use of the emigrant as a privileged figure of witness in recent trauma theory. Like Shoshana Felman and Giorgio Agamben, Sebald invokes the experience of emigration to explain how in testimony the possibility of transmission emerges out of the impossibility of speech. In Austerlitz, the disrupted dialog between a German Jewish emigrant and a non-Jewish narrator similarly opens up a new access to history, even if it cannot to fill in the gaps in memory.
14. Stefan Gunther, USDA Graduate School & University of Maryland, Stefan_Gunther@grad.usda.gov (department page; personal page)
Stefan Gunther is a Program Manager in the Continuing Education Division of the USDA Graduate School. He completed a Ph.D. on Holocaust Literature at Brandeis University (2000) and also holds a Certificate from UCLA in Online Teaching (2000). Recently, he has been spearheading Evening Programs' effort to provide online courses. He is also a contributor to the just-published Reference Guide to Holocaust Literature (St. James Press); two relevant entries are on The Emigrants and W.G. Sebald, respectively.
The Emigrants embodies one of the constitutive conditions of writing about the Holocaust today: it engages the Holocaust not as it is experienced by its primary victims, but as it is perceived from a geographical distance or after the fact. Thus, it provides one type of answer to the question, "What shall we allow ourselves to build on the scourged soil of the killing grounds?" (Frederick Busch) I would like to argue that this book is emblematic of a shift from "[a]n obsessive focus on the unspeakable and unrepresentable, as it was compellingly articulated by Elie Wiesel or George Steiner ... and as it informs the ethical philosophy of Jean-François Lyotard" (Andreas Huyssen), towards a cautious expression of the need for uttering words that are appropriate, respectful,
and, at the same time, mindful of the complex workings of memory and the process of remembering. The Holocaust forms the still point of the worlds depicted in The Emigrants, an event that can barely sustain direct mention, but informs the present, indelibly and without the potential solace of sublimation or Freudian working-through. To have made manifest that silent heart of the book, and to have demonstrated the circumstances of a present that is pregnant with the past, is one of The Emigrants' merits. Here, invocation of the Holocaust is consistently in the employ attempting to "make sense of a century so brutally ruptured by horror at its center" (Larry Wolf).
15. Christian Hunt, St. John's College, Oxford, email@example.com
A graduate of Davidson College (2000) and Rhodes Scholar, Christian Hunt recently completed an M.Phil in English Literature at St. John's College, Oxford; his thesis explored connections between the rhetoric of music in German Idealist philosophy, early Viennese musicology, and early literary modernism. He is currently working on Thomas Bernhard, Walter Benjamin, and Sebald at Oxford University.
Christian Hunt will serve as respondent and moderator following the keynote lectures Friday evening and moderator for the roundtable discussions Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning.
16. Ben Hutchinson, Queens College, Oxford, firstname.lastname@example.org (my seminar group)
Currently preparing a doctoral thesis on process in the poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke, Ben Hutchinson is at The Queen's College, Oxford, having studied at the Universities of Bristol and Vienna. He has a particular passion for twentieth century poetry, but is interested in general in the way language enacts meaning, whether in a lyric or narrative context.
"'In einer Kiste ineinander verschachtelten Eierkartons': narrative status and its implications in W.G.Sebald."
My paper will examine the nature of Sebald's narrative structures, exploring how he constructs identity and meaning through an elusive narratorial presence. Proceeding from a first-person perspective, the narrator becomes both reader and writer, collector and creator, building layers of narrative on top of one another, "immer das eine im andern verschachtelt, gerade so wie die labyrinthischen Gewölbe"; the processes of narration and research are artfully juxtaposed, so that the reader undertakes the writer's journies with him. The blurring of genre distinctions also departs from this structure: metatextual allusions, both photographic and literary, question the relationship between the lived life and the written work, to the extent that the process of narration becomes itself a way of conceiving life.
17. Mark Ilsemann, Princeton University, email@example.com (dept homepage)
Born in Hamburg, Germany. Studied German language and literature, philosophy, and comparative literature at Hamburg University, the Free University of Berlin, Johns Hopkins University, and Princeton University. M.A. in Germanic languages and literatures from Princeton University in Jan. 2000. Currently working on a dissertation at Princeton entitled "A Wilderness of Meaning," which deals with melancholy, spatial metaphors, and philosophy of space in the post-Kantian period.
In my paper, which focuses on Sebald's novel Austerlitz, I examine the role that descriptions of places - especially architectural sites - play in the narrative, and how these descriptions are related to Sebald's fundamental beliefs about memory, remembrance, and narration. I attempt a rhetorical analysis of these minute and often labyrinthine descriptive passages, in which he approaches the somber locales of historical and personal traumata, to show that Sebald's narrative style ingeniously imitates the twisted logic of a melancholic, traumatized mind. The question I am first and foremost trying to answer is whether the sites in question serve as allegories - perhaps of mental phenomena - or whether their horror emerges precisely from their material reality, which makes them a lasting storage medium for haunting memories.
18. Russell Kilbourn, McMaster University, firstname.lastname@example.org
Russell Kilbourn completed his Ph.D. dissertation on negation and alterity in Kafka, Beckett, and Nabokov in 1999, in Comparative Literature at the University of Toronto. After three years as an Assistant Professor in the English Department at Toronto, in September 2002 he will be at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, as an Assistant Professor in the English Department, teaching cultural studies. Russell has published on Kafka, Nabokov, and Beckett (forthcoming), as well as on Wagner, Polish director Krystof Kieslowski and the film 'The Matrix.' Currently he is working on a book project based on his dissertation, for publication with Louisiana State UP, as part of a series on American Theory and Culture. He is also pursuing research on identity and unrepresentability in contemporary popular culture (foregrounding cinema) vis-a-vis the Western European literary-philosophical canon. In general Russell is interested in bridging the gap between cultural studies and more traditional scholarship, and his recent work on Sebald is a primary extension of this goal.
"Kafka, Nabokov? Sebald: Intertextuality and Redemption in Vertigo and The Emigrants"
A New York Times online review singled out for censure one feature of The Emigrants: "?the man with the butterfly net, a Nabokovian figure, who keeps appearing and disappearing. I found him blatantly symbolic and literary" (Jefferson 3). This rather unreflective response nevertheless raises interesting questions about just what such a blatantly 'Nabokovian figure' is doing in the novel, and why it appears when it does. Further, assuming that this figure is blatantly symbolic, what might it 'symbolize,' given its literal provenance not in one of Vladimir Nabokov's novels but rather in Speak, Memory (1967), where his autobiographical self (whose photo is reproduced in Emigrants) assumes this role? Curiously, perhaps, the same review fails to accuse Vertigo of the analogous sin of blatant literariness, in its even heavier reliance upon the central motif of Franz Kafka's narrative fragment "The Hunter Gracchus" (1917).
It is no mystery that Kafka and Nabokov are two of Sebald's primary literary antecedents. What is less clear is, first, how these diverse intertextual elements signify within each novel, and, second, what relation, if any, they bear to each other. This paper will analyze, on the one hand, the Gracchus story (as well as specific Diary entries) as a parable of the crossing of the aleatory with 'fate,' in an ironically temporized Jewish Messianism. Here Messiah and subject of experience are identified in the figure of the Hunter, in the 'typical' Kafkan conflation of extremes of self and Other in the protagonist. On the other hand, I will treat the butterfly/moth motif in Speak, Memory (and perhaps Bend Sinister ) as a kind of allegory for a christological paradigm of salvation turned inside out in a 'typical' Nabokovian metafictional aporia - a paradox only concealed by what many critics prefer to read as Nabokov's metaphorical staging of the possibility of redemption. The quasi-allegorical Nabokovian "butterfly man" represents in The Emigrants the always-imminent promise, if not the immanent reality, of redemption; a metonymy of if not a metaphor for an ever-deferred salvific principle that is nevertheless paradoxically 'present' in this seemingly heavy-handed intertextual homage. Kafka's Hunter Gracchus, in Vertigo, functions more obliquely as an intertextual avatar for the Kafkan subject, forever doomed not to death as such but to a living 'death' of endless waiting, an eternity spent ceaselessly travelling over the world's seas after a second 'accident' sent his ship off course (the first accident being the fall from the cliff that inaugurated the journey to the land of the dead now gone awry). Neither properly alive nor properly dead, now permanently erroneous, the Hunter figure appears in several forms across Sebald's first novel, providing not a thematic or formal focus but rather a sort of vertiginously ironic 'justification' for Sebald's quasi-autobiographical narrator's circuitous wanderings through a space which is variously one of history, memory and imagination. In either case, Sebald, like Kafka, resists the Nabokovian resort to a metafictional 'solution.'
Beginning from Sebald's own Kafka scholarship, this paper will chart Sebald's use of these explicit and well-documented Nabokovian and Kafkan elements in order to compare the earlier novels on the basis of their establishment of an attitude toward the problematic conjunction in fictional narrative of the theme of redemption and the aleatory principle - an attitude which can only now be called 'Sebaldian,' at once comprehensive and consistent, and yet manifesting itself in significantly different ways in the two novels, due to the radical differences in the 'source' texts by Nabokov and Kafka. At issue is the fictional - and, ultimately, literal - status of death: the 'reality principle' that even the most glibly 'postmodernist' narrative fails to subvert, and by subverting negate. Hence the perhaps ironic abiding of redemption as a literary theme and formal fulcrum. Officially, one might say, redemption has been long since revalued in the gradual shift to a so-called secular late modernity. To think the revaluing of redemption as a 'redeeming' of redemption is a pleonasm, but a functional one. In the Nietzschean revaluation of redemption, a positively revalued death intervenes to 'redeem' a life negatively revalued in the idealist-Romantic tradition. Death acts in the service of life to save a life revalued in terms of death - 'death' as interruption, rupture, discontinuity. Sebald's novels in their different ways extend Kafka's and Nabokov's separate critiques of the persistence of a naively conceived redemptive power (a conception generally affirmed in the work of generations of Nabokov and Kafka scholars alike). This paper will explore the manner in which Sebald goes beyond the ironically metafictional Nabokovian solution, as well as the more radical because interminably open-ended non-solution adumbrated in Kafka, by offering a deeply ethical fictional response to the untenable but persistent messianic and christological paradigms in a contemporary literary-cultural context. Works Cited: Jefferson, Margo. "Writing in the Shadows." Books. The New York Times On the Web. 18 March 2001. Kafka, Franz. The Complete Stories (1883-1924). Ed. Nahum N. Glatzer. New York:
Schocken, 1971. ----. The Diaries (1910-1923). Ed. Max Brod. New York: Schocken, 1976. Nabokov, Vladimir. Bend Sinister. New York: Vintage, 1990 (1947). ----. Speak, Memory. New York: Vintage, 1989 (1967). Sebald, W.G. The Emigrants. Trans. Michael Hulse. New York: New Directions, 1996 (1992). ---. Vertigo. Trans. Michael Hulse. New York: New Directions, 1999 (1990).
19. Martin Klebes, Northwestern University, email@example.com
Martin Klebes studied Philosophy and Comparative Literature at the University of Tübingen, the University of Washington, and Northwestern University, where he is an Adjunct Lecturer, presently completing his dissertation "Remembering Failure: Philosophy and the Form of the Novel."
In his early critical work, Sebald offers pathographies of authors such as Carl Sternheim and Alfred Döblin, arguing that mental conditions--caused by particular socio-political and/or more personal biographical circumstances in the lives of these authors--manifest themselves on the textual surface. Sebald's own later literary work, on the other hand, must be considered a skeptical rejoinder to claims of this sort. Here the inclusion of exernalized archival material points not to deep structures of personality, but rather challenges the very idea that texts "store" such latent content at all. Neither Sebald's subjects, nor Sebald as author, are therefore open to the kind of pathographic reading that he himself had suggested should be a major concern of literary criticism.
20. Patrick Lennon, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, firstname.lastname@example.org
Having graduated magna cum laude from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Free University of Brussels) in 1999, I have currently completed my first year as a doctoral student at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel - my thesis is on "Referentiality in the Fiction of W. G. Sebald." My research interests include referentiality, word and image studies, intermedial works, contemporary European literature. Besides the doctorate, which I am as yet pursuing as a freelance student, I am further engaged as a teacher of English, a translator and a reviewer. I wil be presentating a paper at "Image and Imagery: Frames, Borders and Limits," to be held at Brock University in St Catharines, Ontario, in October 2002; the paper, entitled "Towards a Confusion of Word and Image in W. G. Sebald," centres on the interrelatedness of text and image in his work. In November 2002 I will present a paper at the B.A.A.H.E. (Belgian Association of Anglicists in Higher Education) international conference: 'Beyond' (Brussels, Université Libre de Bruxelles) and in December 2002 my article "The Real and the Duplicate: John Banville's Frames Trilogy" will appear in in Belgian Essays on Language and Literature.
"The Referential in W. G. Sebald's The Rings of Saturn"
The proposed paper is on the subject of non/referentiality in the creative works of W. G. Sebald. The paper centres on the contrast between the referential (real, provable, verifiable) on the one hand, and on the non-referential (non-verifiable) on the other. Central to the question of fiction as a genre (and thereby also to the question of fictionality, or invention in fiction), the matter of non/referentiality is also relevant to photography (the referential genre 'par excellence'), as well as other written and/or pictorial genres (auto/biography, painting, etc.). The validity of 'non/referentiality' as a critical tool will thereby be explored in Sebald's fiction.
21. Jonathan Long, University of Durham, email@example.com (homepage)
Jonathan J Long
Lecturer in German and Head of Department, University of Durham, UK. Book The Novels of Thoams Bernhard', and other publications on Bernhard, Wolfgang Hildesheimer, Dieter Kühn, Bernhard Schlink, Binjamin Wilkomirski, Heinrich Böll, Wyndham Lewis, and Sebald. Currently working on a book-length study of writers and photography in twentieth-century Germany.
"W.G. Sebald: Memory and the Archive"
Despite the structural and stylistic uniformity of Sebald's major works - Die Ausgewanderten, Die Ringe des Saturn, and Austerlitz - the texts present the reader with very different structures of knowledge. The narrative embedding in Die Ausgewanderten is dictated by the narrator's project of reconstructing the lives of four emigrants whose life-stories can only be passed down through the recollections of the characters themselves and third persons who knew them, or by means of diaries, notebooks, and photograph albums. The text is thus concerned with the forms of personal and familial memory, and with the means by which memory is transmitted from one generation to the next. Die Ringe des Saturn, on the other hand, uses the framing narrative as a way of exploring knowledge that is archival rather then mnemic. Archives typically heap together widely diverse data, materials, and bodies of knowledge, and impose upon them a homogeneity that is a product of their very existence within the archive. Sebald's text undertakes precisely this kind of regrouping, uniting meditations on topics as diverse as the biological and commercial history of the silkworm, the diaries of Roger Casement, and the coastal geography of Suffolk in order to find new patterns of significance in this ostensibly disparate material. Austerlitz, finally, can be seen as an attempted synthesis of memory and the archive, as archival knowledge and personal/cultural memory are understood as interdependent, each both the cause and symptom of the other.
22. Mark McCulloh, Davidson College, firstname.lastname@example.org (Symposium co-organizer; volume co-editor)
Mark R. McCulloh is Professor of German at Davidson College. He began teaching in 1982 and served as Chair of the Department of German & Russian and as Director of the Self-Instructional Languages Program for much of the decade of the 1990s. His fields of interest are the 19th and 20th centuries, travel literature, and the relations of literature and science. He recently completed a monograph on W. G. Sebald for the University of South Carolina Press. Details on that book are here.
Sebald's highly referential writing includes at least three categories of allusion: explicit references, references that are unattributed but widely known (at least to literary scholars), and references that seem willfully obscure. Sebald's references often lead readers down new and intriguing paths to the works of authors they might not have previously encountered, or might not otherwise have come to know intimately. In the reviews that greeted Sebald's prose over the last twelve years, numerous literary influences have been noted in response to his style and "referentiality," from the obvious, such as Kafka, to the less generally well-known, such as Adalbert Stifter. Some British and American critics have even detected Melville and Henry James in Sebald's prose. My paper acknowledges certain significant influences but concentrates rather on the notion of literary affinities and parallels between Sebald's work and that of European writers such as Claudio Magris and especially the "factional" autobiographer Gregor von Rezzori.
23. Michael Niehaus, Universität Essen and Universität Bochum, MchNiehaus@aol.com
Michael Niehaus, born in 1959, studied philosophy, German literature and history in Freiburg (Germany); Ph. D. at the university of Essen (Germany) in modern German literature (1993) with a work concerning monological prose forms in the 20. century; habilitation at the university of Essen (2001) with an inquiry on the history and the theory of interrogation; at present at the Ruhr-Universiät-Bochum (Germany).
"Haltlosigkeit. Zum Status der Institutionellen bei W.G. Sebald"
Der geplante Beitrag möchte sich mit den Erscheinungsformen der offensichtlichen Institutionsferne' in Sebalds Texten beschäftigen und deren poetologische Bedeutung ausloten. Den Figuren von Sebald bieten Institutionen keinen Halt. Und der Ich-Erzähler kann sich dieser Figuren nur deshalb annehmen, weil er sich selbst in einem Jenseits des Institutionellen ansiedelt und letztlich den Status einer haltlosen Schriftsteller-Existenz zuschreibt. Von hier aus soll die räumliche Implikation des Begriffs der Institution als einer Einrichtung in den Blick genommen werden: Während keine der Sebaldschen Figuren in einen häuslichen Milieu aufgehoben ist, werden die mehr oder weniger öffentlichen und jedenfalls milieulosen' Einrichtungen wie Museen, Gedenkstätten, Bibliotheken, Sanatorien, Hotels oder Bahnhöfe zu ambivalenten Orten sowohl des Schreckens wie der Faszination.
"Without support. The role of the institutional in the work of W.G. Sebald"
The planned contribution will be occupied with the different forms of the obvious distance to institutions in the texts of W.G. Sebald and their poetological dimension. The figures of Sebald are described as not being supportable by institutions. And the first-person narrator can only be at war with these figures, because he is also situated beyond the institutional order and because he implicitly ascribes himself an unsupported author-existence. From here a view shall be taken on the spatial implications of the conception of institution as establishment or public building. Since none of the figures in Sebald's texts lives in a comfortable relation with his surrounding, public buildings like museums, memorials, libraries, sanatoriums, hotels or railway stations become more or less ambivalent places of horror and fascination.
24. Brad Prager, University of Missouri-Columbia, email@example.com (dept homepage; personal homepage)
Brad Prager is currently an Assistant Professor of German at the University of Missouri, Columbia. He is at work on his book on aesthetic experience in German Romanticism and has published a variety of essays on Film, Art and Literature in Journals such as New German Critique, Seminar, Art History among others.
My essay, with the working title "Sebald's Kafka," examines Sebald's subtle and unique readings of Kafka. By the time Sebald wrote his key literary works he had already written extensively on authors who had troubled relationships to their own Judaism, such as Carl Sternheim and Alfred Döblin. With his keen eye for historical detail and his background in literary studies, Sebald subsequently came to see Kafka both as a Jew, and as a paradigmatically rootless and melancholy writer, who felt nowhere at home. My essay explores the constellation of rootlessness, Judaism and homosexual desire that Sebald chose to underscore in his uses of Kafka, both in his scholarly essay, "Das unendeckte Land: Zur Motivstruktur in Kafkas Schloss," and in his quasi-fictional works, Vertigo and Austerlitz.
25. Christina Szentivanyi, Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf, firstname.lastname@example.org
"Sebald and Texts of Trauma and Testimony"
"Die Ausgewanderten begann mit einem Anruf, den ich von meiner Mutter erhielt, mit der Nachricht, daß mein Schullehrer in Sonthofen Selbstmord begangen hatte. Das war nicht lange nach Amérys Selbstmord, und mit Améry hatte ich mich lange beschäftigt. [...] Ich begann wage zu begreifen, was dies alles bedeutete", said W.G. Sebald to Carole Angier (Loquai 1997). Although the questions of trauma and testimony figure prominently in W.G. Sebald's fictional work, printed interviews suggest evasiveness and a subtle reluctance to comment explicitly or extensively on his knowledge and sources. His scholarly writings dealing with Jean Améry and Primo Levi - especially his contribution to the volume Über Jean Améry (1990) edited by Irene Heidelberger-Leonard - offer insight concerning his longstanding analysis of both subjects and the related scholarly discourse. Sebald considers writing and becoming a witness as a question of survival for both Améry and Levi, but also as a burden since it forced them to distort what they knew to be true: They were carriers of an impossible history where testimony can only occur through a visibility of an absence of witnesses. Sebald developed a strategy of fictional testimony and narrating trauma through his work on the testimonial writing of Améry and Levi. Reading "Paul Bereyter. Manche Nebelflecken löst kein Auge auf", the second story of Die Ausgewanderten, this paper will attempt to show how Sebald implements this strategy in fictional texts.
Christina M.E. Szentivanyi has been contributing to a documentary project of biographies of female scholars and scientists who were forced to emigrate from Germany between 1933-45 at the Heinrich-Heine-Universität. She has recently completed an essay on translation in Yoko Tawadas Überseezungen. The working title of her dissertation is "Erinnerungsarbeit bei W.G. Sebald: Trauma, Geschichte, Bricolage" (Prof. Dr. Reinhold Görling, Düsseldorf, supervisor).
26. Gordon Turner, University of East Anglia Norwich, email@example.com
On graduation in 1964 I took up a position teaching French and German on the Applied Language Studies degree at Ealing Polytechnic. In May 1970 I was interviewed on the same day as Max Sebald, subsequently arriving on the same day in October, to take up an appointment in the German Department of the
School of Modern Languages and European Studies at the University of East Anglia. Over the years, sometimes in tandem with Max, I taught courses in Contemporary German Studies and Landeskunde, subsequently also in Applied Linguistics, with responsibility since 1990 for the undergraduate Translating and Interpreting programme. I retired from full-time teaching in 2001 and work as a free-lance translator.
Gordon Turner recently accepted the Independent Foreign Literature Prize on behalf of Max Sebald's widow, Ute. That speech is here.
Gordon Turner will help moderate and contribute to the Gala of dramatised readings from Max Sebald's works on Saturday evening, part which will be "Sebald in His Own Words" from Turner's archive of Sebald audio and video recordings.
27. Susanne Vees-Gulani, University of Michigan, firstname.lastname@example.org (homepage)
Susanne Vees-Gulani completed her "Staatsexamen" in German and American Studies at Heidelberg University (Germany) in 1995 and received her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2001 with a dissertation entitled "Memory and Destruction: A Psychiatric Approach to Understanding Literary Depictions of Air Raids in World War II." She is currently a lecturer in the German Department at the University of Michigan. Her research interests include World War II literature, the interaction between literature and science/medicine, and cultural studies. She has presented and published in the areas of chaos theory in literature, literature surrounding the mass bombings in WW II, analog and digital circuit theory in Thomas Pynchon, and writers reflecting on the German reunification.
"Exploring the Shadows: W. G. Sebald's Luftkrieg und Literatur"
In Luftkrieg und Literatur, W. G. Sebald argues that due to the establishment of a taboo the large area bombings in World War II have been inadequately represented in German literature despite their far-reaching effects on the culture as a whole. However, in his analysis Sebald underestimates both the complexity of the social and psychological situation authors face when addressing the topic, and his own role in his critical investigation. Born in 1944, he belonged to a generation that did not experience the war directly, but nevertheless had to live under its constant shadow - an underlying theme in several of Sebald's works. Searching for adequate literary representations of the bombings is thus not only an aesthetic endeavor, but also an attempt to live out and understand events that the author never witnessed directly. Yet, as the bombings lie well outside normal human experience, literature can only offer partial glimpses and insight into them, thus dooming Sebald's quest to disappointment.
28. Wilfried Wilms, Union College, email@example.com
Wilfried Wilms, PhD (Indiana University 2000) wrote his dissertation on G.E. Lessings political thinking, employing Carl Schmitt, Odo Marquard, Jürgen Habermas as cornerstones of the anaylsis. He has been Assistant Professor of German at Union College (NY) since 2000 and has recently published two articles on Lessing, (in Deutsche Vierteljahrsschrift für Literaturwissenschaft und Geistegschichte and in Monatshefte). He is currently working on a book on Lessings political thought and is also working on monograph on bombing and war, including a translation of H.E. Nossacks Der Untergang.
I wish to examine Sebalds repression hypothesis (in Luftkrieg und Literatur) as it relates to the recent debate on historical trauma (La Capra, Caruth, Santner, a.o.). I am mostly interested in how Sebald employs "taboo": as the inability or unwillingness to mourn the bombing war? Is it a taboo on German self-pity? Or can we consider, according to Caruths interpretation of the "historical" effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the bombing raids to be historical events beyond any normal graspable scheme, that is, events of traumatic character that, paradoxically, we cannot have access to and thus cannot become "narrative memory" (Pierre Janet)? What precisely, then, does Sebald criticize regarding Germanys post-war writers: a collapse of witnessing, or active forgetting? We might anticipate that Sebalds hypothesis moves beyond the psychological realm into the political, alluding to the taboo on criticizing the Allies because of the hideous crimes committed by the Germans themselves yet, his study never approaches this terrain.
29. John Zilcosky, University of Toronto, firstname.lastname@example.org (dept homepage; personal homepage)
John Zilcosky (Ph.D., Comparative Literature, Univ. of Pennsylvania) is Assistant Professor of German and Associate Member of the Centre for Comparative Literature at the University of Toronto. His first book, Kafka's Travels: Exoticism, Colonialism, and the Traffic of Writing (New York: St. Martin's/Palgrave), is forthcoming in December 2002. He has published essays on travel writing, colonialism, and literary theory, as well as on Arthur Schopenhauer, Botho Strauss, and Paul Auster. He is now beginning a new project entitled Exotic Modernity, which re-examines German modernism -- Freud, Mann, Hofmannsthal, Musil, Broch -- through the lens of popular travel culture.
"Sebalds Travels, or the Impossibility of Being Lost"
Susan Sontag has correctly identified W.G. Sebald as a travel writer: journeys, she claims, form the heart of all Sebalds narratives. But more than this, textual travel is Sebalds generative force. He follows in the footsteps of other travel writers, most notably Stendhals in Milan and Kafkas in Riva, but also others mentioned only on the fringes of his texts. It is the goal of this paper to delineate precisely how Sebald fits into his own richly evoked tradition of travel writing. Specifically, I will examine Sebalds entire oeuvre and its place in the ancient discourse surrounding the travelers essential fear/desire: of losing his/her way in a foreign world. Sebald, I maintain, undermines this master travel narrative by questioning the basic assumption that it is possible ever to really lose ones way. Sebald unmasks getting lost as a fantasy: something we hope for while traveling but can no longer achieve in an unheimliche world assiduously traversed by tourists and travel writers. Lostness, for Sebald, is no more.
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