Session I: Cultural Studies/Media Studies
Performing Bodies: Approaches to (Inter)medial Cultures
The symposium is framed by an opening session devoted to exploring contemporary cultural constructions of identity, and how these identities are constructed within the framework of art and technology. The first two panelists will focus on the body in performance, discussing the ways in which essentialist views of a given, natural identity are challenged in film and opera through multifaceted presentations which stress how bodies come into being as they are enacted and perceived in relation to cultural norms. The last two panelists will then examine the culturally specific ways in which the media stage bodies at different times in history, and analyze the symbolic power that media exercise over flesh and skin.
Terri Gordon (Barnard College) will discuss "Performing Gender: Power, Politics, Perversity and Pathos in 20th Century Film"; Lloyd Whitesell (McGill University) will discuss "Opera and a Queer Aesthetic"; Angela Krewani (Marburg University) will discuss "Unstable Images in Digital Film Production"; and Karin Wenz (University of Maastricht) will discuss "Virtual Bodies in Digital Games and Digital Art - Narciss vs. Echoe?".
Session II: Classics
Constructing Identities in the Roman Empire
The symposium now turns back two thousand years to the establishment of the immense Roman Empire, which forced its inhabitants, most of whom were used to living in much smaller structures, to define their places in an expansive, multitudinous, and culturally diversified world. Making sense of this world required a common cultural heritage that was ideologically stable and traditional, yet also flexible. This was a challenge for the Greek-speaking eastern half of the empire, where Hellenic identity was bound up with claims of ownership over a great 'classical' past. The conquering Romans, too, were confronted with identity formation as they were attracted by the culture of the colonized East and sought to combine Greek artistry with Roman authority.
Joy Connolly (Stanford University) will discuss "Hellenism as Classicism: The Uses and Abuses of the Past in the Second Sophistic and in the Discipline"; Helmut Krasser (Giessen University) will discuss "Shifting Identities. Knowledge and the Construction of Social Roles in the Roman Empire"; and Susan Alcock (University of Michigan) will discuss "Building Sites and Border Crossings in the Eastern Roman Empire."
Session III: Social History
Constructing Frontiers in the Late Medieval and Modern World
The symposium now moves forward in time to consider - in sharp contrast to the Roman Empire - how state builders from the late Middle Ages onwards have invented and constructed precise physical and cultural boundaries in an effort to demarcate individuals, towns, states, and colonies, to create a 'self' in opposition to the 'other', often in order to obtain total mastery and control within delimited space. In Europe the process was particularly encouraged by confessional nation-building. Yet, as in the Roman Empire, the drive to enlarge dominion increased contacts and facilitated syncretism that rendered cultural boundaries permeable. Boundaries encouraged trespassing.
Victoria Morse (Carleton College) will speak on "The Construction and Description of Boundaries in Northern Italy in the Later Middle Ages"; Gabriele Haug-Moritz (University of Graz) will discuss "The Holy Roman Empire, the Schmalkald League, and the Idea of Confessional Nation-Building"; Ulrike Gleixner (TU Berlin) will discuss "Gender, Religion and Power: Establishing Dichotomies in Early Modern Culture - a Transcultural Perspective"; and Ian Fletcher (Georgia State University) will discuss "Empire, Nation, Diaspora: Shifting Frontiers of Rule and Recognition before 1914".
Session IV: Modern Literature
From World Literature to Global Literature: Narrating Cultural Identities
The symposium concludes by exploring the evolution of the concept of "world literature", which was first articulated by Goethe as a way of fostering international communication, into the contemporary concept of "global literature" which calls for the structural organization of various literatures into a world system with new forms, styles and genres that express a global literary imagination. At stake are such questions as: What constitutes global literature? Who names what is global? What is the relationship between the local and the global in global literature? And how do we reconfigure national literatures, or narrate cultural identities in this new imperative to address the global in literature? The four panelists search for answers by examining a diverse set of literary case studies.
Franz-Josef Deiters (University of Tübingen) will discuss "Poetry as a Medium of Cultural Identity: the Problem of a Comparative Description of Culture in Johann Gottfried Herder"; Susan Koshy (University of California, Santa Barbara) will discuss "New Millennium Multiculturalism: Zadie Smith's White Teeth and the Globalization of Ethnicity"; Carola Hilmes (University of Frankfurt am Main) will discuss "Author's Identity in Doubt: Uwe Johnson's Autobiographical Writings"; and Mireille Rosello (Northwestern University) will discuss "Performative Encounters: Literary Representations of French-Maghrebi Transnationalities".