About Margins and Contact Zones: 500 Years of Dutch-German Cultural Interaction

We are looking for participants in a seminar on Dutch-German cultural interaction at the next German Studies Association (GSA) Meeting in San Diego, California from September 29 to October 2, 2016. The seminar is being organized by Carl Niekerk (U of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) and Simon Richter (U of Pennsylvania). We hope to assemble a group of 12-15 scholars from North America, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, and the UK who are doing exciting new work on aspects of the long history of Dutch, Flemish and German cultural interaction.

The German Studies Association is one of the most active and vibrant scholarly organizations in our field. It has approximately 1500 members. The annual GSA conference is a highlight of the academic year for many professors of German literature, culture and history, and more relevant to our discipline now than the Modern Language Association meeting. The organization of the GSA meeting provides a variety of flexible formats for fostering new research and new models of interdisciplinarity, among them the seminar. Each seminar meets three times over the course of the conference usually during the first meeting period of the day (from 8-10 AM). Since all participants are motivated and contributing members of the seminar, this setting is ideal for productive, informed discussion and feedback.
Our seminar “About Margins and Contact Zones: 500 Years of Dutch-German Cultural Interaction” will bring together scholars working on the intersections of Dutch, Flemish, and German culture. The idea is that in the case of smaller cultural entities like the Netherlands and Flemish-speaking Belgium, a “national” approach misses an essential aspect of these cultures: their higher receptiveness to impulses coming from surrounding cultural traditions. Because of their assumed marginality, such cultures have a meaningful function as contact zones. In the case of the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany, we have three distinct but historically, geographically, and linguistically proximate cultures. Over the course of five centuries, discernible patterns of interaction, refraction, and projection have developed. There is a long and varied tradition of artistic, intellectual, and cultural interaction. Individual papers will offer case studies of these interactions and cumulatively contribute to new models for understanding their patterns.

Short papers of up to 3000 words, written in English or German, are due by July 29 so that they can be pre-circulated among the seminar participants. The paper should include and may emphasize reflection on the precise mode of cultural interaction represented by the texts or cultural phenomena in question. Our intention is to publish revised proceedings of the seminar as a volume on Netherlandic-German cultural relations.

The application deadline for enrollment in the seminar is January 28, 2016. You must use the online application site. Simon and I are responsible for selecting the membership of the seminar. In order to apply, you must become a member of the GSA. Regular membership is $70.00, payable by credit card or paypal. You can find out more about the GSA and the conference on the website: www.thegsa.org. Once you are a member, you can login and click on member services. From the choices on the left, click on the link for conference proposals. Then click on validate. This will take you to the program submission home page. You will see a link for applying to participate in a seminar. On the subsequent page, select our seminar and fill in the boxes for a 300 word statement of your interest in the seminar (in which you would briefly summarize the topic you plan to write on and a “minivita” of no more than 1000 characters.
If you have any questions about the process or anything else, please contact Carl (niekerk@illinois.edu) or Simon (srichter@sas.upenn.edu).