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Winter Term 2022/23

Find here the abstracts for the workshops of the Winter Term 2022/23.

IPP Workshop Series

for BA, MA & PhD students




The IPP Workshop Series offers IPP members the opportunity to lead a workshop on current concepts and methods in the Study of culture. The aim of the series is to create an interactive discussion group for doctoral candidates and students. The topics can range from general introductions to various "schools" of literary and cultural theory to concepts, methods and topics of literary and cultural theory. The sessions are open for BA, MA and PhD students.

All the sessions will be in the Konferenzraum 001 of the GCSC-GGK Building (Otto-Behaghel-Str. 12) from 14.00 to 16.00.





Cultural Studies | Dzifa Peters | 22.11.2022 | 14-16 | MFR


Introduction to Postcolonial Societies

 Prominent in the field of culture and literary studies, postcolonial studies refer to the discourse initiated by colonised countries bringing their independence about, as well as the continuous discourses that have emerged in postcolonial societies. Here, the 'post' in postcolonial, or post-colonial, does not necessarily imply an 'after' in the chronological sense but indicates an ongoing study of the anti-colonial.

Hence, postcolonialism is associated with taking a turn from imperialism, eurocentrism, and colonial rule, while entailing forces of decolonisation. In the course of time, various theories and ideas have been developed, while not remaining free from critical debate of oppositional approaches negotiating the localisation of theory and complexities of a progressing globalisation. Such notions can be found in the postcolony (Mbembe, 2001), neo-colonialism (Nkrumah, 1965) and discourses within decolonial theory (El Tayeb, 2020), which criticise "the normalisation of the abnormalities of the colonial system" in postcolonial societies (Ngugi, 2017).

The aim of the workshop is to provide a concise overview and juxtaposition of postcolonial and decolonial studies and to offer a differentiation between various lines of thought. The session unpacks the characteristics of postcolonial societies, by means of introducing postcolonialism as a global challenge. The workshop helps students understand the socio-cultural effects of postcoloniality as a whole and provides useful tools for further cultural analysis. The teaching plan presents current developments in postcolonial and decolonial studies (Loomba, 1998, Young, 2016), and examines what it means to look at different cultural objects in contemporary postcolonial societies.

Works Cited:

Loomba, Ania. Colonialism/Postcolonialism. London, New York: Routledge, 1998.
Mbembe, Achille. On The Postcolony. Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press, 2001.
Nkrumah, Kwame. Neo-Colonialism: The Last Stage of Imperialism. London: Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1965.
Young, Robert J. C. Postcolonialsim. An Historical Introduction (15th Anniversary Edition). Chichester: John Wiley & Sons, 2016.




Literary Studies | Aleksandra Sadowska | 29.11.2022 | 14-16 | MFR


"The time is out of joint": An Introduction to Hauntology

In his pivotal book, Spectres of Marx (1993), Jacques Derrida has written that "[i]f it—learning to live—remains to be done, it can happen only between life and death. Neither in life nor in death alone. [...] So it would be necessary to learn spirits. [...]" (2006: xvii). In the course of this workshop, we will follow the advice of the father of hauntology and find out what deeper meanings and truths can be learned from the ghosts and hauntings as depicted in selected literary texts.

During the first part of the workshop, we will look briefly at the origins of hauntology, its most prominent advocates (e.g. Jacques Derrida, Mark Fisher, Nicolas Abraham and Maria Torok), and the tools it offers for literary analysis. Next, the participants will be invited to use the acquired knowledge to analyze a few selected extracts from literature (such as Ali Smith's Hotel World). This part aims to familiarize the participants with possible readings of hauntological elements on the individual, social and political levels.

This workshop is of interest to all students who would like to expand their understanding of hauntological elements encountered in literature or look for inspiration regarding their research papers. Participants will be provided with a handbook containing the most important information and suggestions for further reading.

"The time is out of joint": Hamlet, Act I, Scene V.

Works Cited:

Derrida, Jacques. Specters of Marx: the State of the Debt, the Work of Mourning and the New International. Translated from the French by Peggy Kamuf; with an Introduction by Bernd Magnus and Stephen Cullenberg. Routledge, 2006.




Cultural Studies | Farouk El Maarouf | 06.12.2022 | 14-16 | MFR


Muslima Theology: a Critical Analysis of Feminism in the Arab World

Women around the world struggled, and still do in varying degrees, against various forms of oppression and discrimination. Thanks to feminist efforts, Western women have been challenging pervasive cultural norms and are enjoying increasing equity and equality. However, feminism, in its Western fashion, faced multiple disputes and objections since the 1950s in Morocco, whereby grassroots opposed all things Western (especially if they were French). As such, Arab and Muslim scholars revisited what is to be a feminist in societies where the religion "Islam", post-colonialism, and patriarchy loom large.

As many Arab countries faced the challenges of colonialism and its aftermath, it had been difficult to draw attention to feminism, which first appeared in its Marxist-Leninist guise, while Morocco and other Arab countries rejected all Western-born political movements and ideologies, and adopted the politics of Arabization in tandem with a return to the historical and cultural roots. After years of trial and error, the work and activism of Arab feminists and thinkers such as Amina Wadud, Asma Barlas, and Fatima Mernissi, among others, introduced a novel intellectual and sub-feminist branch they named "Muslima Theology", which pushed women's emancipation and liberation to new heights and received unprecedented attention.

In this workshop, I would like to bring to attention the main feminist branches of "Secular, Islamist, and Muslim feminisms" that have existed in Morocco since the 1950s. I will focus on how they shaped feminist ideology, its development, and its impacts on society, women's rights, and gender dynamics. The workshop is an attempt to come to grips with the epistemological and historical development of feminist thought in Morocco. Moreover, it takes a cue from the "third-way" of Muslima Theology which challenges the Maqasid Sharia (mainstream male exegesis and hermeneutic traditions) and brings together postcolonial history, a reinterpretation of the Hadith, women's rights, and Arab cultures.

The workshop will start with a general introduction of the state of affairs, politics, and geopolitical tensions in the Arab world during the 1950s till the early 2000s using Morocco (the Maghreb) as an example while drawing attention to other Arab countries, too. Next, I will discuss some approaches that feminists took to advocate for equality and demand their rights and in what way their efforts were productive or faced challenges: in their failure to reach people, they understood what battlefront they are engaging with and what they must use to draw attention to their cause. With that, Muslima theology comes into being, both as an intellectual and activist method, and paves the way to a rather stable foreground that made people, for the first time, listen and understand what they had to say. Both secular feminism and Muslim feminism played an important role in shaping the face of gender dynamics and women's rights in the Arab world today. Though the road is still long and fraught with difficulties, the misfire between feminist ideologies allowed for a discussion to exist, persist, and develop. The last half hour will be reserved for questions and discussion.



Research | Marie-Christine Boucher | 13.12.2022 | 14-16 | MFR


Introduction to Zotero: Collect, Organize and Cite Sources

There are many advantages to automating your reference management process with tools such as Zotero, Citavi or Endnote, not least including being quicker and more consistent than a manual process. Let technology do the work for you, while you concentrate on the content of your writing! Though these advantages apply to any similar tool, this workshop introduces Zotero, a free and open-source reference management software.

In this hands-on workshop, we will explore three major functions of reference management software:

  • collecting sources (automatic and manual importing, editing)
  • organizing information (creating collections, using tags)
  • citing references (creating and exporting bibliographies, with and without the Zotero plugin).

Towards the end of the workshop, we will go over some suggestions for a more advanced use of Zotero in an academic writing workflow.

Please bring your laptop with Zotero already installed* and, if applicable, some references you would like to organize (be it a list on a spreadsheet or a document file, a collection of PDF articles, or a pile of books).

Important Note: Please install the Zotero standalone software, browser connector and word processor plugin before the workshop. Download and info on the Zotero website: 




Literary Studies | David E. Susa | Cancelled


Introduction to Book History (Cancelled)

 The concept of 'Book History' or 'History of Books' can be understood in two different yet related ways. It is, first, the history of the object we know as a book (codex) and, in general, the history of the different ways in which humans have stored texts (cf. Howsam 2015). Second, it is the discipline that studies said history, a relatively recent academic development that is expanding. The workshop tackles both aspects by giving the attendees a general overview of both the history of books as cultural artefacts that have changed and developed for centuries, and as a field of study located in the interception of literary and cultural studies, anthropology, law, and many other disciplines.

The objective of this workshop is to introduce attendees to the main topics and issues of the disciplinary study of books as objects, as well as to give them general tools to think critically about the material life of the sources they use in their own work. Although digitalization allows us to consume texts that are customizable by the user, disrupting our previous conceptions of a book, the history of how they were originally produced, distributed and consumed is essential to acquire a more complex and complete understanding of their meaning and existence.

This workshop would be divided into three parts. In the first, the lecturer will focus on the history of the book as an object. This general overview does not aspire to be comprehensive, but to provide landmarks that will help to locate different works within their historical context. The second section will deal with the History of Books as a discipline: its origins, its more distinguished proponents and its current issues and perspectives. Finally, the participants will read and comment on some historical texts about books to gain a more nuanced perspective when studying texts from the past.


Works Cited:
Howsam, Leslie. (2015). "The study of book history". In The Cambridge Companion to the History of the Book. Edited by Leslie Howsam. Cambridge University Press.



Cultural Studies | Somaye Rezaei | 31.01.2023 | 14-16 | MFR


An Introduction to Critical Humor Studies

 What is funny?
What is (political, dark, German, ethnic...) humor?
How does humor contribute to dissent?

In order to answer such questions, scholars have theorized the concept and functions of humor over the centuries. Humor is discussed in philosophy, psychology, sociology, literary and cultural studies, and, more recently, it has been established as a field of linguistics. In the first part of this workshop, after a brief discussion of the traditional theories on humor, we will proceed to examine humor as a cultural practice. Different disciplines have approached humor on the basis of its features (ambiguity, exaggeration, understatement, etc. as in literary studies or linguistics), functions (to amuse, to criticize, to establish superiority, etc. as in psychology), or subjects (ethnicity, gender, politics, etc. as in cultural and gender studies) (Nilsen & Nilsen, 2-3). The emergent field of critical humor studies specifically deals with 'subjects' of humor and analytically approaches discourse(s) on/of such subjects to study the ways in which power is enacted, reproduced and resisted through humor.


In the second part of the workshop, we will work in pairs or small groups on examples of jokes, sketches, etc. from contemporary American late-night shows. By considering the features and functions of humor, we will explore the ways in which humor negotiates and addresses subjects such as racial prejudice (e.g. police brutality), gender inequality (e.g. abortion ban) or class discrimination (e.g. homelessness) in the United States. Through the lenses of critical humor studies, the participants are invited to reflect on humor as a (counter)discursive measure for (re)negotiation and deconstruction of power relations in social and cultural contexts.


Recommended reading:

Morreall, John. "No Laughing Matter: The Traditional Rejection of Humor and Traditional Theories of Humor." Comic Relief: A Comprehensive Philosophy of Humor, 2009, pp 1-24.


Works Cited:
Nilsen, Don LF, and Alleen Pace Nilsen. The Language of Humor: An Introduction. Cambridge University Press, 2018.



Cultural Studies | Iryna Tarku | 07.02.2023 | 14-16 | MFR


Between the 'Impossibility of Narration' and the 'Banality of Evil': Approaching Trauma and Resilience in Literary and Cultural Studies

The current state of pandemics, wars, and climate change proves that through centuries societies have not become "immune to trauma" (Basseler 2019). Simultaneously, writers and researchers have been trying to narrativise and comprehend the influence of historical violence on individuals and groups. While approaching the analysis of testimonies and fiction written by trauma survivors, literary scholars face the ambiguous perception of trauma between the "impossibility of narration" (Assmann 1999) and the "banality of evil" (Arendt 2011). However, the writing process itself might be perceived as a means of bringing the fragmented pieces back together (e. g., van der Kolk and Fisler 1995) and developing a coherent narrative. Moreover, recent studies (e. g., Cyrulnik 2009, O'Brien 2017, Basseler 2019) highlight a paradigm shift towards the emerging concept of resilience – the ability to "bounce back" after experiencing trauma. In both local and transcultural contexts, traumatic events might foster meaning-making, empathy and solidarity because "history, like trauma, is never simply one's own, [...] history is precisely the way we are implicated in each other's traumas" (Caruth 1996, 24). Therefore, scholars investigate available individual and collective resources of resilience and how this positive coping behaviour can be cultivated.

In the first part of our workshop, we will sketch current theoretical approaches in the field of memory studies. In the second, we will use examples from contemporary Ukrainian literature about war in Donbas published since 2014 as case studies.


Works Cited:
Arendt, Hannah. (2011). Eichmann in Jerusalem: Ein Bericht von der Banalität des Bösen. München: Piper.
Assmann, Aleida. (1999). Erinnerungsräume. Formen und Wandlungen des kulturellen Gedächtnisses. München: Beck.
Basseler, Michael. (2019). "Stories of Dangerous Life in the Post-Trauma Age: Toward a Cultural Narratology of Resilience." In Narrative in Culture. Berlin and Boston: de Gruyter.
Caruth, Cathy. (1996). Unclaimed Experience: Trauma, Narrative and History. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
Cyrulnik, Boris. (2009). Resilience: How Your Inner Strength Can Set You Free From the Past. London: Tarcher/Penguin.
O'Brien, Susie. (2017). "Resilience Stories: Narratives of Adaptation, Refusal and Compromise." In Resilience: A Journal of the Environmental Humanities, Vol. 4, No. 2–3, pp. 43–65.
van der Kolk, Bessel and Fisler, Rita. (1995). "Dissociation and the fragmentary nature of traumatic memories: overview and exploratory study", in: Journal of Traumatic Stress 8(4): pp. 505–25.