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Troubling Time(s): Questioning Prevailing Notions of Time in the Study of Literature and Culture

Castle of Rauischholzhausen

June 26-28, 2022

Hamlet’s lament that “the time is out of joint” is likely the most famous instance within the Western literary canon in which a moment of crisis, both personal and political, is linked to a sense of disrupted time. The pairing of troubling times with troubled time – i.e. ruptured, disjointed temporalities and historical breaks – certainly persists within contemporary experience and cultural expression. Even before the most recent overwhelming experiences of crisis have added urgency to this topic, the various challenges posed to our societies in the 21st century have led to the impression that “people seem to be losing their faith in their ability to shape the future” (Grossberg 2010: 62). However, far from solely leading to resignation and negativity, various productive (re)evaluations of time have appeared in critical thought from, for example, non-western, feminist, queer and affect-theoretical perspectives that question either conventional, hegemonic notions of time or reconceptualize the temporality and experience of crisis.


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Cultural Identities in a Global World: Rethinking Cultural Hybridity

Giessen University, GCSC (Online)

June 23-25, 2021

From the local to the global, cultural hybridity nowadays travels across the individual, political, religious, biological, cultural and virtual spaces in the historical contexts of nation-state, transnationalism and globalisation. Hence, hybridity can entangle new meanings and action-oriented concepts. This conference aims to reframe the discourse on hybridity by exploring this cultural artefact in theory and social practice and as a still useful analytical tool in the study of culture. 

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Rethinking Postcolonial Europe: Moving Identities, Changing Subjectivities

Giessen University, GCSC (Online)

February 10-12, 2021

Thinking ‘Europe’ as an idea, a geographical space, and a political force is inseparable from thinking about its history of imperialism, its postcolonial legacies, and its preoccupation with questions of in and outside, centre and periphery, the self and the other. Migration and the current so-called refugee crisis not only urge a changing perception of those power hierarchies that tend to divide the world between ‘the west’ and ‘the rest’ but also compel new discourses of national and cultural identity and belonging. The recent resurge of populism and racism connected to the rise of right-wing parties in several European states serves as an uneasy reminder of the continuing influence of hegemonic ideas of European exceptionalism and cultural superiority. At the same time, however, practices of resistance and emancipation in migrant/BPoC self-organisation and domains of art, literature, media, law, and politics reimagine Europe as an entangled space that was and is home for different people. 

The event is organised in cooperation with the Gesellschaft für anglophone postkoloniale Studien (GAPS) and the postgraduate forum Postcolonial Narrations.


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 Memories for the Future? Narrating Horizons of Hope in "Politics out of History"

Online Conference, GCSC (Online)

December 8, 2020 (10:00 –16:00 CET)

After being cancelled due to Covid-19 outbreak at the end of March this year, the organizers hereby announce that the conference Memories for the Future? Narrating Horizons of Hope in “Politics out of History” is scheduled to take place online on December 8th, 2020, from 10am to 4pm CET. Due to changes in schedule and novel conditions under which we all work, the conference will now be significantly downsized - from the original two days that included art installations, workshops, keynotes and traditional panels - to a single day event with three roundtables. 

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Renegotiating Minoritarian In_Visibilities

Giessen University, GCSC

November 12-14, 2019

Paradoxical political developments in the ‘Global North’ – in particular the commercial, capitalist and legal embrace of (for example) sexual, gender and racial minorities and the rise of far-right nationalism, with its attendant visible and violent classism, racism, xenophobia, homophobia, and sexism – ask for an urgent renegotiation of minoritarian politics of in_visibilities. Against this backdrop, the international and interdisciplinary conference Renegotiating Minoritarian In_Visibilities will investigate how minoritarian strategies in art and visual culture can undermine hegemonic regimes of representation and challenge the dominant patterns of visibility, assimilation and intelligibility. Considering close connections between academia, art critique/practice and activism, the societal relevance of the conference is grounded in its exploration of aesthetic strategies that counteract processes of discrimination and stereotyping due to gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, age and further categories of difference.


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Conference: Villains - Constructing Narratives of Evil

Giessen University, GCSC

February 6-8, 2019

Villains are not always simply agents of evil. They can represent the moral decay of a society. They can attract unexpected sympathy as misunderstood products of trauma. As symbols of revenge, they can produce a sense of justice or of closure. As harbingers of change and revolution, they can open us up to feelings of hope. This conference will have a focus on villains from historical, religious and cultural perspectives. Rather than as a subservient Other of the hero, we would like to conceptualize the villain as its own archetype.



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Conference: Conceptualizing Sacred Space/s: Perspectives from the Study of Culture

Giessen University, GCSC

May 23-25, 2018


This symposium promotes the concept of "sacred space(s)" as a point of entry for bringing together recent theoretical work on space and place with the study of culture and the study/anthropology of religion. Furthermore, the symposium explores the changing, and at times conflicting, imaginations of the "sacred" and their role in the making and unmaking of specific spatial configurations and features in past and present contexts. The goal of the symposium is twofold: first, it aims at fostering an interdisciplinary dialogue in the study of spatial(izing) formations of the "sacred" and its cultural dynamics. Second, by focusing on the multiple layers, inner frictions and dynamics of "sacred space(s)", it attempts to challenge an analytical vocabulary that is based on conventional dichotomies such as religious/secular, traditional/modern or sacred/profane.

Organized by the GCSC research group "Culture & Religion".


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Conference: Graphic Realities

Giessen University, GCSC

February 22-23, 2018

While comics have traditionally been associated with fictional, especially funny and/or fantastic stories, they have in recent decades become a major vehicle for nonfiction, as well. This development coincides with a time that has been described as ‘post-truth’, in which established news media face a crisis of confidence. The turn towards comics is a turn towards a medium, which inherently promotes simplification and exaggeration. Cartoon imagery thus immediately exhibits the subjectivity of the artist and her or his interpretation – but what could be considered a hindrance towards factual reporting has become an important resource. The overt display of subjectivity and medial limitations as a show of honesty has been described as an authentication strategy of graphic nonfiction. In contrast to formats based on camera-recorded images like photography and film nonfiction comics cannot lay claim to indexing premedial reality. Rather, individual graphic styles index their own creator who as witness becomes the main authenticator. Thus, comics shift the weight of authentication from medial prerequisites towards their authors and artists and thus the textual properties referencing them. One of the questions that will be discussed at the conference is thus the relation of inherent medial properties of comics as vehicle for nonfiction.

While among graphic nonfiction life writing in particular has received widespread scholarly attention, this conference will focus on recent approaches to comics as documentary, history, and journalism. As opposed to graphic memoirs in which authors reflect upon their own lives and experiences, these works focus on the lives and experiences of others. Thus, authors and artists need to do justice towards their subjects, as well as to their own experience and negotiate their own voices within their stories. This becomes especially relevant as a majority of graphic reportages centers around highly traumatizing crises and catastrophes, such as war, displacement, natural disasters, and oppression. The conference is intended to explore how authors and artists utilize the medium of comics for nonfiction and address these ‘graphic realities’.

Please visit the conference site for further information.