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Winter Term 2019/20

Find here the abstracts for the workshops of the winter term 2019/20.

IPP Workshop Series


"Reading Culture: Established and Emerging Approaches"


for BA, MA & PhD students


Cultural Studies | Mina Ibrahim | 19.11.2019 | 14-16 | Room B25, Phil 1


Ethnographic Perspectives on (Ir-)religiosity and violence in Egypt


This workshop will address the relationship between (ir-)religiosity and violence in the Middle East. While many academic and non-academic writings have extensively described how religious ideologies produce violence, we will attempt to reverse the equation. The purpose is to open up a conversation about how ethnographic narratives can shed light on everyday constructions of, shifts in and contestations over what constitutes religion and religious practice.


Based on people’s firsthand experiences and stories, the workshop will primarily seek to address individuals’ (ir-)religiosity in the contexts of current (latent) violence. While keeping an eye on similar historical upheavals, we will be concerned with the promising 2011 uprisings and their violent breakdown in 2013 and 2014. In this regard, we will investigate the top-down imposed schools of theology or religiosity that are sponsored and protected by killing machines. We will address how and why massacres committed not only by state actors but also by non-state groups produce different everyday relationships and interactions with the devout and other (non-)believers. We will discuss the means by which people choose, negotiate and abandon (ir-)religious subjectivities, sensibilities, and attitudes amid everyday encounters of violence.



Literary Studies | Dennis Friedrichsen | 26.11.2019 | 14-16 | Room B340, Phil I


Applying Theories of Worldbuilding to Fantasy and Science Fiction Literature


In this workshop, participants will be introduced to the basic theoretical principles concerning worldbuilding and the philosophy of possible worlds in fantasy and science-fiction literature. Although most genres to varying degrees make use of worldbuilding, its role is significantly different in fantasy and science fiction, making it an interesting object of study. In many cases, worldbuilding in these genres is its own entity and readers engage with the world as much as with characters. We will discuss degrees of invention, completeness and consistency, and reflect on what functions these have. Through extensive use of examples, the workshop will illustrate how certain fantasy and science fiction novels build their worlds and what role these play.


In consequence, this workshop could be interesting for students of every level (BA, MA or PhD) who are interested in science fiction, narratology, literary genres, etc.



Literary Studies | Marija Spirkovska | 03.12.2019 | 14-16 | Room B25, Phil 1


How to Read Ulysses and Other Complex Texts


The workshop will aim to provide participants with the basic equipment for accessing lengthy, dense, and demanding literary texts in a way that dispels some of the myths that surround them. The most present example will be James Joyce’s epic Ulysses. Nearly a hundred years since its publication in 1922, this work still ignites equal parts frustration and fascination among the general public and scholars alike. The density of its references and allusions, the variety of literary styles, and generations of readers who have picked it up and put it quickly down in defeat, have earned it the status of a heavyweight of 20th-century literature and also a reputation of impenetrability.


The basic tools to access such complex texts will spring from intertextuality, novelistic form, and editing history. In particular, we will land on notions such as the role of auxiliary texts –for instance, annotations- in the reading and interpretation of seemingly impenetrable texts, as well as the influence of editorial decisions on interpretations of a novel. Taking Ulysses as a case study, we will briefly discuss its genesis, the relationships with Homer’s Odyssey, and the schemata that Joyce provided to help readers grasp the fundaments of the novel’s structure. Readings of various excerpts will be performed in groups, and the ensuing discussion will revolve around whether textual aids are truly helpful and indeed indispensable for grasping a novel’s multiple significations, or the reading experience alone is sufficient to afford value and meaning.    



Literary Studies | Marie-Christine Boucher | 17.12.2019 | 14-16 | Room B25, Phil 1



An Introduction to Computational Literary Criticism


“[W]hat we really need is a little pact with the devil: we know how to read texts, now let’s learn how not to read them”.

Franco Moretti, Conjectures on World Literature, 2000


This workshop will aim to make the participants familiar with the basic concepts, methods and techniques used in the field of computational criticism. The first part of the workshop will introduce several common methods, such as most frequent word analysis, collocation, stylometry, digital mapping, and network analysis. They will be briefly discussed, in order to address the potential of computer-assisted literary criticism. This will be followed by an overview of some of the critiques of the ‘distant reading’ paradigm, which was most notably popularized by Franco Moretti’s controversial statements, and of the use of quantitative data for literary analysis in general. The participants will then be encouraged to take a stance on the topic with the help of a small corpus of research texts. In a closing discussion, they will have the opportunity to reflect on the ways in which their own research projects could potentially benefit from one, or more, of the discussed tools and methods.


This workshop, therefore, is not only interesting to those who want to apply these methods on their own research projects but for all students who are trying to expand their knowledge about research methodologies and quantitative analysis.



Cultural Studies | Ahmet Görgen | 14.01.2020 | 14-16 | Room B25, Phil 1


Applying Gramscian Analysis to Social Movements in the Digital Public Sphere


This workshop will present the potential of social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, to mobilize social groups, especially those comprised of young people, through emerging cultures of broad participation. Over the past ten years, public spheres have been dramatically expanded by participatory web-based technologies. This course will focus on various arguments for and against this central claim by examining historical and present-day understandings of the public sphere, employing Antonio Gramsci’s conception of the public sphere and civil society. His theoretical conceptions will be explored through notions such as hegemony and counter-hegemony, passive revolution, the historical bloc, the war of positions and the war of maneuver. Therefore, the course will give the attendants the theoretical bases to apply Gramsci’s work to their own research interests.


The course will investigate the mobilizing potential of the internet, by examining the political participation of citizens. In theory, the internet contributes to public knowledge via social media platforms that allow for political participation, such as the organization of protests and social movements. Moreover, the workshop will employ specific cases related to the effects of social media on youth mobilization of protests and social movements (e.g., Gezi Protests in Turkey, Arab Spring) for practical application of Gramsci’s concepts.



Cultural Studies | Theresa Krampe | 21.01.2020 | 14-16 | Computer Lab B5, Phil 1


Introduction to Video Game Studies


This workshop introduces the interdisciplinary study of digital games with a particular focus on video game narratology. In order to facilitate ‘first contact’ with the subject and to contextualise video games within the field of (New) Media, we will first attempt a video game ontology in the form of a semi-structured brainstorming, drawing on subjective impressions, playing experiences, and knowledge of other media. We then relate the results of the brainstorming to central concepts, theories, and concerns in games studies, such as interactivity, simulation, nonlinear narrative, player-avatar embodiment, and game mechanics. Finally, an exemplary model for the analysis of videogames is introduced.


 In the second part of the seminar, we apply the tools thus acquired to the analysis of a video game. First, we will play a short scene from a narrative game together. This Let’s Play session then serves as the starting point for a close reading of the game. The workshop closes with a reflection on affordances and limitations of the methodologies explored as well as a critical consideration of the role of games in contemporary culture.


No previous knowledge of game studies is required for participating in the workshop. Students and researchers of all levels are welcome to attend. All readings are optional.


Recommended Readings:

Frasca, Gonzalo (2003). “Simulation versus Narrative: Introduction to Ludology.” The Video Game Theory Reader, edited by Mark J. P. Wolf and Bernard Perron. Routledge. 221-36.


Mayra, Frans. “Introduction.” An Introduction to Game Studies. Sage: 2018. 1-12.


Schröter, Felix, and Jan-Noël Thon (2014). “Video Game Characters. Theory and Analysis.” Diegesis 3.1: 40–77. article/view/151


Thon, Jan Noel. (2009). "Computer Games, Fictional Worlds, and Transmedial Storytelling: A Narratological Perspective.” Proceedings of the Philosophy of Computer Games Conference 2009, edited by John R. Sageng. University of Oslo. 1-6.



Literary Studies | Liza Bauer | 28.01.2020 | 14-16 | Room B25, Phil 1


An Introduction to Cultural Literary Animal Studies


This workshop is an introduction to the field of cultural literary animal studies (CLAS). Permeating nearly all academic disciplines, the ‘animal turn’ has caused researchers to focus attention on other-than-human life. In the face of biodiversity loss, environmental crises, and the scarcity of resources, animal studies scholars try to re-think human-animal relations and coexistence. Since the 1990s, the Humanities increasingly seek to re-conceptualize animals as active participants in all sorts of cultural productions (cf. McHugh 490). Exploring their contribution to this development, literary animal studies today are concerned with re-conceptualizing not only storytelling modes but also their methods of analysis. In order to attentively study the stories emerging from human-animal entanglements, animals and their textual representations are discussed “as agents who are not just humanlike subjects or thinglike objects, but actors of a different order” (Marvin and McHugh 5). Along these lines, recent literary animal studies projects as outlined by McHugh (2009, 2011), Borgards (2016), and Herman (2018) explore the ways these multi-species stories both shape and are shaped by material creaturely life.


The session will open with a discussion of some famous animal characters in literature and film. Following introductory input on the emergence of this burgeoning discipline and its central representatives, the core practice of how to do an “animal reading” as outlined by Borgards (2016) will be explained. Subsequently, several textual examples will be formally analyzed in terms of animal agency, narration, and focalization, so that the participants will gain insight into the practice of CLAS.


As an introduction, this workshop is open to students and researchers of all levels, especially those who are interested in understanding how to approach this complex matter with adequate tools and current perspectives.


Quoted Works:

Borgards, Roland. Tiere: Kulturwissenschaftliches Handbuch, J.B. Metzler Verlag, 2016.


Herman, David. Narratology beyond the human: Storytelling and animal life, Oxford University Press, 2018.


Marvin, Garry, and Susan McHugh. Routledge Handbook of Human-Animal Studies. First edition, Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2014. Routledge international handbooks.


McHugh, Susan. “Literary Animal Agents.” PMLA, vol. 124, no. 2, 2009, pp. 487–95.


McHugh, Susan. Animal Stories: Narrating Across Species Lines, University of Minnesota Press, 2011. Posthumanities.



Cultural Studies | Melanie Kreitler | 04.02.2020 | 14-16 | Room B25, Phil 1


Reading, Understanding and Analyzing Hollywood


“There is nothing in the world more powerful than a good story.” Tyrion Lannister, Game of Thrones (8.6) Hollywood has come to be known as the dream factory for a reason: it offers audiences a multitude of stories, in which we readily partake. Entering a cinema, everyone has a different background, a different way of understanding and relating to what is happening on the screen. Yet, when exiting the cinema hall, everybody could follow along and participate in the same experience. Why is that? How is Hollywood able to offer such powerful narratives? During the time of classical Hollywood cinema, a set of conventions was established for the audiovisual style of narrative on the big screen. While there have been significant changes in the fields of production and consumption of film since then, what remains is a conventional style that most contemporary productions still employ to narrate and stage ‘good stories’ that ensure the similar viewing experiences for all cinemagoers. From the significance of camera angles and lighting to mise-en-scène and cuts, this workshop addresses the technical and stylistic devices that Hollywood-style films employ. This practical session takes apart film’s conventional style of storytelling and offers the tools for understanding why Hollywood’s stories have remained so powerful over time.


The workshop is designed as a practical course in film analysis, which is open for all who are interested in this topic regardless of their academic level and will proceed in two phases. The first is dedicated to the language of film: filming techniques and stylistic devices will be introduced to the participants of the workshop. Using a number of different examples, the workshop aims to establish a firm understanding of the choices directors make in filming a movie in order to elicit certain responses in the audience and facilitate understanding of the plot. The second phase is for the participants to test their new knowledge in film analysis. Depending on the number of attendees, about three movie samples will be analyzed in small groups. The samples will highlight different aspects of film and editing.



Cultural Studies | Sijie Wang | 11.02.2020 | 14-16 | Room B25, Phil 1


Representing Mobility in Early Modern English Literature


This seminar intends to examine the narrative representations of the traveler figure in early-modern English fiction as well as their various cultural meanings. The presence or absence of mobility on physical, social and psychological levels, in individual lives as well as in collective communities, has attracted the attention of literary, cultural and socio-political researchers. In seventeenth- and eighteenth-century England, the modes of travelling range from religious pilgrimages to imperial quests, thus connecting mobility studies with theological, literary and postcolonial questions. Delving into the historical period when brutal battles triggered by religious conflicts coincide with the expansion of European empires and the development of the novel genre, this seminar invites its participants to seek tentative answers to three guiding questions as they read two excerpts from Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe: What forms of mobility have been represented? How are they represented? What are their cultural implications?


Based on their close reading, the participants are encouraged to explore the intricate interactions between the act of travelling, its influence on society and the genre of the English novel. Combining introductory lecturing with group discussions and group presentations, this seminar aims to broaden the participants’ knowledge about early modern English literature and to improve their skills for textual analysis. Therefore, it is open for students of every level and researchers alike.