A one-day conference at the Department of German, University College London, 29th June 2015
In the late nineteenth century, German departments opened across the United Kingdom. But these were not simply the export of an emergent ‘Germanistik’ to the British Isles, for the ways in which literature was read (and language was taught) here had to also be reconciled with specifically British, and even institutionally specific, practices. Indeed, “around 1900” saw the establishment of a new subject, but one which has never really been autonomous: Auslandsgermanistik. Around the same time, the English Goethe Society was founded (1886). While this in part merely followed the Goethe Gesellschaft that had been set up in Germany the year before, the English version also understood itself as mediating German culture for an English public – and not only an academic one. Our symposium aims to analyze these spaces in which German, its language and its culture were “studied” and disseminated in the UK at the turn of the nineteenth century. We shall thereby explore Anglo-Cultural relations in this period primarily with respect to scholarly institutions, and so we are interested in how such German departments and societies “abroad” in the UK contributed both to domestic ideas of scholarship or the University more broadly, as well to the reception of German culture in British society at large. This also leads us to the question of how the historical idiosyncrasies of the relationship between British and German “German Studies” have influenced the ways in which our discipline is (still) practiced today.
Topics may include, but are not restricted to, the following questions:
– What were the influences of the German university system on UK institutions more generally around 1900?
– What were the cultural, social, political reasons for establishing German within universities? What were the target groups of students?
– What were the areas of German Studies that English ‘Auslandsgermanistik’ primarily focused on? What were popular areas of research / topics for theses?
– From a gender perspective, what was the role of women in teaching, studying, research and/dissemination?
– How does the (historically conditioned) relationship between ‘Inlands’- and ‘Auslandsgermanistik’ compare with similar tensions in, say, French studies or English Studies after post-colonialism and an acceptance of other Englishes?
A publication of the contributions in a conference volume is planned.
The conference is organized by Séan Williams (University of Bern) and Dagmar Paulus (UCL). Please send a short proposal (appr. 300 words) for a 20-minute presentation to Dagmar Paulus (firstname.lastname@example.org) by 19th January 2015.