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Surveying / Language: Tracing Views on Landscapes and Nature, Media and Archaeology, Archivism and Archaism

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Organizer: Michael Paninski

Co-Organizer: Nils Plath

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What a panorama. What an immeasurable echo-region, here before our eyes. Intoxicating, the furrowed landscape.

                  (Marcel Beyer – ‘Flying Foxes’)

How does language examine its surroundings? In what way does language explore and record a landscape, let alone a historical one? How to register the region, to trace its paths and making maps? How does literature, poetry, language in general establishes and encloses its own field?
When landscapes become language–spaces: For Thomas Kling, language, in particular the poetic language, is not just an instrument to perceive the reality it is embedded in. The poem perceives its own perception. Rather than being a mere tool for designating a position, one could also say, it keeps the priority of the recording over the recorded. The poem does not reveal the observer’s location so much as it presents itself as a means of observation at work. The poetical dimension of language therefore opens up a space to investigate and trace its methods of tracing – a tracing of bygone times and past places. Far from merely highlighting a problem of self-referentiality, the poet, as Thomas Kling would have it, works as “a language archaeologist,” who digs through the sediments of time and space that come together in the German term for history – Geschichte. One could call his attempts in language a particular way of ‚surveying,‘ just as one can find it in the works of Marcel Beyer and Ester Kinski for instance. 

Our proposed seminar sets out to explore and interrogate the question of how literature and poetry, language in general, makes its way through the historical terrain that comes up and is put into words in them. Who rules over the landscape and its (his)story? Where are the lines drawn? And how does language (poetic, philosophic) react to the claims of sovereignty expressed in other languages (legal, political)? What is weighed and measured in the poets’ words, which, according to Aimé Cesaire, become the place and medium of the capacity to disrupt the ways we perceive, know, and understand the world.

We invite abstracts that address elements of space, landscape, sceneries, appropriation, occupation, migration, transformation, or metamorphosis, with a specific emphasis on the political/historical dimensions of the literary composition. We are interested in issues of representation in literature, media, visual and auditory art, and film from a range of interdisciplinary perspectives, including philosophy, history, comparative literature, film studies, performance studies, postcolonial and critical race theories, feminist and queer studies, and disability studies.

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