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Re-Imagining the Discipline: German Studies, the Humanities, and the University

Friday, September 13, 2019

A.D. White house

A Conference of the Institute for German Cultural Studies (IGCS)
Friday, September 13, and Saturday, September 14, 2019

The conference will examine the disciplinary and institutional contexts that make up Anglo-American German Studies in our day. The field has since the 1970s developed a unique profile as an umbrella term for interdisciplinary endeavors that have driven critical conversations informed by the German intellectual tradition, helping frame momentous trends that in the last decades have reshaped humanities studies and the institution of the university in North America. This historical trajectory makes German Studies an optimal lens for appraising the state of the humanities in the current landscape of higher-education, as they meet the challenges and seize the opportunities created by profound changes in the structure and funding of the university; the technological and institutional developments that have reshaped the ways we teach and conduct research; the diversification and stratification of our student population; and the shrinking support for public education displayed by politicians and the public at large.

Friday, September 13

9:00 • Welcome Address
Patrizia McBride, Cornell University
Paul Fleming, Cornell University 

9:30 • German Studies, The Humanities, The University 
B. Venkat Mani, University of Wisconsin, German Studies, Hyperlinked!: The Rewarding Futurities of a Transnational Discipline 
Leslie Morris, University of Minnesota Twin Cities, Unsettling German Jewish Studies 

11:30 • Roundtable 1 • German Studies: Disciplinary and Institutional Snapshots 
Vance Byrd (Grinnell College), Ervin Malakai, (University of British Columbia), Mathew Miller (Colgate University), Franziska Schweiger (Hamilton College), Karina von Tippelskirch (Syracuse University) 

2:30 • Keynote Address: The Humanities of Testimony, Revisited 
Sara Guyer, Director, Center for the Humanities, University of Wisconsin-Madison; President, Consortium of Humanities Centers & Institutes 

5:00 • Roundtable 2 • German Studies as a Multiple Discipline 
Veronika Fuechtner (Dartmouth College), John Hamilton (Harvard University), Priscilla Layne (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill), Elisabeth Strowick (New York University), David Wellbery (University of Chicago) 

Saturday, September 14

9:30 Challenges and Opportunities for Undergraduate and Graduate Programs 
Helmut Müller-Sievers, University of Colorado, Boulder, Diversifying the German PhD. Experiences from Boulder 
Lydia B. Tang, Modern Language Association, Against Smallness: How Successful German Programs Reimagine the Humanities 

11:30 • Roundtable 3 • German Studies: Taking Stock of Graduate and Undergraduate Programs and Curricula
Friederike Eigler (Georgetown University), Matt Erlin (Washington University, St. Louis), Jake Fraser (Reed College), Andreas Gailus (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor), Ulrich Plass (Wesleyan University), Oliver Simons (Columbia University) 

2:00 • Scholarship, Publishing Venues, and the Future of Higher Education: The Case of German Studies 
Catriona MacLeod, University of Chicago, Two-Way Streets: Disciplinary and Interdisciplinary Scholarship in German Studies 
Carl Niekerk, University of Illinois, The Unconditional University, the Practices of German Studies, and the Future of the Humanities 

4:00 • Roundtable Discussion 4: Research, Publishing, Professionalization 
Diane Brown (Cornell University), Sonja Fritzsche (Michigan State University), Carl Gelderloos (Binghamton University), Benjamin Robinson, (Indiana University, Bloomington), Kizer Walker (Cornell University), Kirk Wetters (Yale University) 

Funding for the conference was provided by the Institute for German Cultural Studies (IGCS); the Federal Republic of Germany through the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD); the Max Kade Foundation; Cornell Society for the Humanities; CNY Humanities Corridor; Cornell Institute for European Studies; Cornell Department of German Studies.

For information, please contact Patrizia C. McBride ( or Paul Fleming (

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