Call for Papers
- Dreams of Germany – Music and (Trans)national Imaginaries in the Modern Era (5-7 February 2015)
- Friedrich Max Müller and the Role of Philology in Victorian Thought (16-18 April 2015)
Dreams of Germany – Music and (Trans)national Imaginaries in the Modern Era
5-7 February 2015
Convenors: Andreas Gestrich (GHIL); Neil Gregor (Southampton); Tom Irvine (Southampton)
Venue: German Historical Institute London
Closing date: 30 April 2014
A little over a decade ago Celia Applegate and Pamela Potter’s groundbreaking collection of essays on ‘Music and German National Identity’ sought to map both the historical terrain on which the notion of Germans as ‘the people of music’ was constituted and an intellectual terrain on which that trope might be fruitfully historicised. Their emblematic introduction registered both the constructed nature of the central proposition – an idea called forth by writers, critics, pedagogues and philosophers, cemented in literary genres such as journals, catalogues, and critical editions, institutionalized in university departments, conservatoires and concert associations, and monumentalized in statues and commemorative culture – and, at the same time, its longevity, its power, and its capacity to transcend the specific politics of time and place. Animated by a critical spirit which drew not least on the then guiding inspiration of Benedict Anderson, it placed music at the centre of an ongoing process of imagining national community throughout the nineteenth and twentieth century. In doing so, it simultaneously recognised the real effects this invented tradition had on the wider culture of which it was part and cautioned against overemphasizing its historical importance in retrospect.
In the intervening decade, inspired not least by the questions Applegate and Potter raised, a significant volume of work has been undertaken which explores further the promise and the limits of thinking about musical cultures in Germany within that national frame. Significant new approaches have emerged within the discipline, which permit the exploration of those same questions from different perspectives. Our understanding of identity politics has moved further beyond the consideration of ideology as inscribed in literary or material culture, and more in the direction of exploring the emotional and the visceral qualities of German, as well as other, subjectivities, and seeks to understand better the imaginaries which lie anterior to discourse; our habits of thinking ‘nationally’ about the histories we seek to explore have been challenged by the turn towards transnational histories; at the same time, a considerable amount of work has been done on the many regional varieties of national thinking and feeling, emphasizing the existence of multiple, sometimes competing but often co-existing, cultural imaginaries.
In this conference, we seek to revisit the questions asked by Applegate and Potter, take stock of the scholarly literature as it now stands, and explore the problem space further in the light of approaches which have emerged in the meantime. In taking the modern era, broadly understood, as the time-frame we not only wish to acknowledge the modern qualities of national thinking and feeling, but also to explore the ways in which particularly modern economic, social and political frames – institutional exchanges, cultural diplomacy, tourism, international study visits, experiences of exile – have served to co-constitute national imaginaries from outside, and thus to insert an overtly transnational aspect to the account. In working with the rubric of ‘dreams’, meanwhile, we seek to acknowledge both the visceral qualities of a set of imaginaries that cannot be reduced to a corresponding set of politics, but work as often as not independently of them, and also the presence of a recognizably German set of histories for which the vocabulary of dreams – of fantasies, projections, recollections, nightmares – provides an equally recognizable metaphorical language.
We invite papers on all aspects of modern musical culture which would sit meaningfully inside the rubric ‘Dreams of Germany’, for example:
- How does class function in relation to musical Germanness? Is the dream of a musical Germany a dream of Bürgerlichkeit? How do national feeling and Bürgerlichkeit interact with and inform each other? To what extent do dreams of German music change when conceptions of Bürgerlichkeit do (for instance in 1918, 1933, 1945 and 1968?)
- How, similarly, might Germany as a musical construct be inflected by gender? Where are women in the ‘Land of music’?
- To what extent to declarations of musical Germanness exclude or embrace registers other than ‘art’ or ‘E-Musik’ (operetta, Tanzmusik, jazz diasporic and otherwise, Rock ‘n Roll and specifically German forms like the Neue Deutsche Welle and Techno/House?)
- How did young people (for example the Jugendmusikbewegung, the generation of the ‘Stunde Null’ and the ‘1968ers’) imagine German music?
- More broadly: How did the upheavals of 1918, 1933, 1945 and 1968 and their attendant aesthetic echoes (modernism, expressionism, avant-gardes) inflect ideas of German national identity in music?
- How did emigrants and other outsiders from Edward Dannreuther to Theodor W Adorno to (the Austrian) Falco (‘Rock me Amadeus’) imagine German music and musical culture?
- How did music play into conceptions/dreams of the German colonial mission How did music, and inscriptions of Germanness in discourses about music play in specifically German colonial and post-colonial contexts (SW Africa, China)?
- How did the idea of Germany as a musical nation play in non-colonial contexts such as Britain, Japan, Latin America, the United States and Israel/Palestine? Did, for instance, musical emigrants in the early twentieth century United States or dream ‘their’ Germany in music?
- To what extent are signal developments in postwar German culture such as the Darmstadt School and the Historical Performance movement re-statements and/or challenges to German national feeling in music?
- To what extent were cultural politics post-1989 inflected by ideas of a specifically German national musical identity (multiculturalism, Leitkultur debate etc)
For further details or queries please contact Neil Gregor or Tom Irvine at dreamsofgermany(ghi)gmail.com
Closing Deadline for Proposals: 30th April 2014.
Call for papers (PDF file)
Friedrich Max Müller and the Role of Philology in Victorian Thought
Date: 16-18 April 2015
Convenors: John R. Davis (Kingston University), Angus Nicholls (Queen Mary University of London)
Venue: German Historical Institute London
Closing date: 31 March 2014
Friedrich Max Müller (1823-1900) was one of the most well known academics in Victorian Britain. His popular writings enjoyed a wide readership and acclaim. His public lectures were sell-out events. He was a prominent figure in the popularisation of evolutionary thinking before Darwin. His theories regarding the origins and development of language served to create a public fascination with the past, with legend and with myth. His public role in the contexts of imperialism and British understanding of the cultures of the Indian subcontinent brought him notoriety. Good-looking, witty and gifted, Max Müller was, for many outside academe, the embodiment of the German Professor and a forerunner of today’s media-savvy academic.
Max Müller’s scholarship is often seen as an important contribution to Victorian knowledge. When studied today, Max Müller’s works offer remarkable insights into the preoccupations and parameters of Victorian intellectual life. His translation of ancient Sanskrit scripts was inherently ground-breaking and monumental. His work was absorbed not just by academics but also by an influential cross-section of the Victorian elite. His findings helped raise the profile of so-called ‘Oriental’ cultures in Britain, as well as inspiring interest in philology, a discipline that enjoyed a peculiar popularity and strategic position in Victorian Britain. Max Müller’s contribution to the development of philology intellectually and through personal intervention was significant. Yet his influence can only be understood through an interdisciplinary lens. Philology intersected with theology and with the academic study of religion, key areas of sensitive importance in Victorian Britain. It also overlapped with literary scholarship, philosophy, anthropology, and evolutionary thinking in the natural sciences. The first President of the English Goethe Society, Max Müller actively fostered interdisciplinary discourse. Seen broadly, his scholarship made an important contribution to the dissemination of German-style historicism in Victorian intellectual life.
Historically, Max Müller’s personal life is highly significant. Through his father, the Romantic poet Wilhelm Müller, and through his studies Max Müller was on personal terms with the leading German intellectuals of the time. Identified by the Prussian Ambassador, Bunsen, as an important catalyst of intellectual exchange, Max Müller came to occupy a position of significance in Anglo-German cultural relations and Victorian life in general, even if his position as a German-born Professor at Oxford carried with it challenges of integration and cultural acceptance. He corresponded widely with prominent and important figures, including Charles Darwin and William Gladstone, and became a favourite guest of Queen Victoria. He was related by marriage to both J.A. Froude and Charles Kingsley. His scholarship and public engagement in imperial matters extended his impact abroad. His high profile campaigning for better understanding of Indian culture in Europe has left its mark: Goethe Institutes in India today are known as “Max Müller Bhavan.”
Despite being credited with significance in many fields of Victorian intellectual and public life, Max Müller’s life and work have not been subjected to sufficient scholarly attention. The relatively recent biography by Lourens P. van den Bosch (Friedrich Max Müller: A Life Devoted to the Humanities, 2002) has provided an excellent overview that should now enable more detailed evaluations of Max Müller’s contributions to many facets of intellectual life. By necessity, such evaluations must be biographical, historical and interdisciplinary. The proposed conference will therefore bring together academics from a range of disciplines. It seeks to recapture, and evaluate comprehensively and rigorously, Friedrich Max Müller’s significance personally, intellectually, and publically.
Contributions are sought relating to the following provision panel themes:
- Introduction: biography; political and intellectual context; research questions;
- Philology: Max Müller’s position within philology; Max Müller and philology as a discipline in Britain in the nineteenth century;
- Religion: Max Müller’s religious position; his influence upon Victorian religious discourse and his founding of religious studies as an academic discipline in the United Kingdom;
- Evolution: Max Müller and nineteenth-century thinking on evolution; Max Müller and Darwin;
- Anthropology: Max Müller’s influence upon nineteenth-century anthropology;
- Myths: Max Müller’s influence on the theory of myth;
- Translation and Sanskrit studies: Max Müller and the craft of the translator; Max Müller’s impact on Sanskrit research in Britain and internationally;
- Imperialism; Max Müller’s engagement with British imperialism and imperial policy; Max Müller and the history of British imperialism in India; Max Müller in relation to current debates about imperialism, intercultural relations and interreligious dialogue.
DISSEMINATION: The conference proceedings will be considered for publication in a special issue of the journal of the English Goethe Society (Publications of the English Goethe Society).
Abstracts of 500 words should be sent to either of the conference convenors by 31 March 2014.
Call for papers (PDF file)