CfP: Graduate Student Conference “Dissent, Disagreement, and Difference” (deadline: 4/7/23)

Dissent, Disagreement, and Difference

Understanding Conflict within German Studies

Graduate Conference

Georgetown University – October 21, 2023

The war in Ukraine has engendered responses from the German-speaking world—both in the cultural sphere and in the form of unprecedented policy shifts; for instance, Germany’s decision to create an emergency fund for the remaining Holocaust survivors living in war-torn Ukraine demonstrates the relevance of such a topic in the contemporary world. This contemporary example serves as a reminder that conflicts resonate far beyond national borders and that responses thereto can take a variety of forms. And yet, the term “conflict” denotes far more than just military action, encompassing smaller scale disagreements between individuals, discord within the self, or ideological debate, for example. Moreover, although generally viewed as negative, conflict can also positively impact society by encouraging people to consider alternative ideas and reassess the reasons behind conflict—something which, in the long term, can create better strategies for conflict prevention and transformation.

Discussing the theme of conflict within a literary context may evoke the work of authors such as Heinrich Böll, who captured soldiers’ perspectives on military conflict. Yet, the relevance of conflict for studies of literature extends far beyond military action. The term “conflict” also encompasses discord within the self—as is famously played out in Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s Faust, and ideological debate, which can be staged through allegory in the likes of Thomas Mann’s Mario und der Zauberer. Literature might also be used to map disagreements between individuals as in Heinrich von Kleist’s Michael Kohlhaas, for example, or to discuss environmental conflicts, such as Flugasche by Monika Maron.

The 2023 GUGD Graduate Conference will not only focus on literary perspectives, rather it will explore responses to conflict across temporal and disciplinary lines, in relation to (but not too strictly) a globalized and transnational German-speaking world. Through studying conflict one can better understand the past, make sense of trends observed in the present, and conceptualize the future. We ask questions such as:

  • In what ways can the cultural sphere be seen to respond to and memorialize conflicts, and how does this differ over time and media?
  • What themes in responses to conflict can be observed across the German-speaking world?
  • To what extent is cultural and individual identity informed by conflict? And how does this conflict inform the relationship between communities?
  • How can we explore environmental conflicts and conflicts over environmental degradation in relation to the German-speaking world?
  • How can discussions surrounding conflict be integrated into the German-language classroom?
  • How  is conflict pedagogically conceptualized and applied in the German classroom, in order to promote the development of global citizenship?

We welcome papers and posters that address this topic from the perspective of literary and cultural studies, film and media studies, or linguistics/SLA. Contributions that focus on marginalized communities are particularly encouraged.

Please submit a 250-word abstract to Maria Speggiorin ( by April 7, 2023, including your preference for either a panel or poster presentation format.