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Winter Term 2020/21

Find here the abstracts for the workshops of the Winter Term 2020/21.

IPP Workshop Series


Reading Culture: Established and Emerging Approaches

for BA, MA & PhD students

The sessions of the IPP Workshop Series are open for BA, MA and PhD students. The participants do not require any previous knowledge to take part.


The workshops will be accessible five minutes before 14:00 through the following link:



Cultural Studies | Stefano Rozzoni | 10.11.2020 | 14-16 | Online via Webex

Arcadia in the Anthropocene: An Introduction to the Concept of Pastoral

“Pastoralism is a species of cultural equipment that western thought has for more than two millennia been unable to do without”

Lawrence Buell, The Environmental Imagination


This workshop aims to offer a general overview of the concept of ‘pastoral’, its meaning(s), and its ethical implications with a particular focus on the way in which it relates to issues of human/nonhuman relationship, in alignment with the environmental discourses prompted by the Anthropocene.


More specifically, during the workshop, some of the core features of the pastoral aesthetic deriving from Ancient Greek and Latin literature will be discussed as still-dominant trends in the present-day world: attention will be paid to the many references to the pastoral in contemporary culture, including literature, media, advertisement and videogames. Attention will be also dedicated to how the idea of pastoral has contributed – and still contributes – to influence the perception and the conceptualization of the natural world in the Western thought.


This session also wishes to highlight some of the most significant interpretative approaches to this subject in the field of literary criticism, in order to enhance a more pluralistic and critical perspective on it. In this regard, the concept of pastoral will be discussed as a useful navigational tool to reflect on possible models of ethical relationality between the human and the environment, in response to the current ecological crisis.


Suggested Bibliography (not required):

Gifford, Terry. 1999. Pastoral. London: Routledge.

Ruff, Allan R. 2015. Arcadian Visions: Pastoral Influences on Poetry, Painting and the Design of Landscape. Oxford: Windgather Press.

Garrard, Greg. 2004. “Pastoral”. In Ecocriticism. London: Routledge. pp. 37-65.



Literary Studies | Clara Verri | 17.11.2019 | 14-16 | Online via Webex

Introduction to ‘Forms of Life’ in the Analysis of Literary Texts


This workshop aims to introduce the notion of ‘forms of life’ and its functions in literary texts. The philosophical concept of forms of life indicates “attitudes and habitualized modes of conduct with a normative character” (Jaeggi, 2018: 41) and they are particularly interesting in literary studies for their critique and reflection on the cultural and social contexts they address. Forms of life in literature can express changes, transformations, crises and believes of a specific character and his/her world. For this workshop, I intend to illustrate the original ontological, philosophical meaning of Lebensformen (Wittgenstein) and move to the literary and cultural sphere. The methodological framework of this workshop applies discourse analysis and close-reading of literary texts.


Quoted bibliography:

Jaeggi, Rahel. (2018). Critique of Forms of Life. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.




Literary Studies | Sijie Wang | 24.11.2019 | 14-16 | Online via Webex

Reforms and Representations of the Prisons in England


By analysing the representations of incarceration in fictional as well as non-fictional texts, this workshop intends to examine English prison reforms on both architectural and administrative levels during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.


The reformation of penal institutions from an unsystematically regulated place of temporary accommodation to a structurally supervised place of solitary confinement is extensively represented in novels, political pamphlets as well as personal letters, attracting scholarly attention in various research areas but remaining largely unknown among the general public.


After a brief summary of penal practices in England from public executions to disciplinary surveillance, this workshop invites the participants to apply these concepts to a comparative analysis of three short excerpts, taken respectively from Daniel Defoe’s fictional autobiography Moll Flanders (1722), John Howard’s political work The State of the Prisons in England and Wales (1777) and Oscar Wilde’s epistolary text De Profundis (1905). Through a juxtaposition of literary, political and private writings, this workshop offers an interdisciplinary introduction to prison history and prison literature, thus blurring the boundaries between content, form and context. Combining introductory lecturing with group discussions, group presentations and inter-group exchanges, this session aims to broaden the participants’ knowledge about the history of incarceration and encourage their critical reflections on how the prison is reformed, represented and perhaps even misused by our society at large.




Literary Studies | Victoria Boldina | 01.12.2020 | 14-16 | Online via Webex

Critical Issues in Translation Studies: The Translator’s Biography


This workshop gives a short overview of critical issues in translation studies and stresses the importance the translator in the context of translational and cultural studies. Furthermore, the session aims at introducing a possible modelistic approach to examining the issues of the translator’s biography and shows examples of where and how to apply this method. In the practical part of the workshop, the participants will be able to discover connections between biographical facts and the messages the translator put on the pages of a translation.

Cultural Studies | Ewelina Pepiak | 03.12.2020 | 14-16 | Online via Webex

‘Ain’t I a woman?’: Mapping Race and Gender Scholarship

Although seminal works on race, gender and representations appeared mostly in the 1990s (Shohat, 1991; Dyer, 1997), critical race and gender scholarship emerged at least a decade earlier and continues to inspire debates within cultural studies today. This workshop aims at presenting and mapping the leading works in critical whiteness studies and black feminism. We will look at extracts from classical works, such as White Privilege (Macintosh, 1989) and Bell Hooks’ Black Looks (1993) in order to determine key terms, concepts and methodological devices used in critical race and gender theories.


In the practical part of the workshop, we will analyse fragments of recent contributions to decolonial feminism (Emejulu, 2019; Verges, 2019). We will look at several examples of recent gendered and racialised images and reflect on ways of analysing them. The overall aim is to understand how classical and recent theories can help researchers study gendered and racialised representations beyond both identity politics and neoliberal post-racialism.




Cultural Studies | Maaike Hommes | 08.12.2020 | 14-16 | Online via Webex


Introducing Body Talk and Affect Theory


The body feels and shivers. The body feels before it may be aware.


This workshop introduces a topic that may resist theoretical reflection, and is, at the same time, highly theoretically mediated: the notorious question of how to talk of the body. To sum up different approaches to the body, Bruno Latour speaks of ‘body talk’, with which he refers to the various ways in which our own materiality is accounted for. This shall be problematized alongside an introduction of affect theory, which places emphasis on the ways in which preconscious experiences have a shared, social and historical dimension. This growing attention to the multiple ways in which bodily experience is culturally constructed as well as biologically registered is often called the ‘affective turn’.


This workshop will not only introduce affect theory as an elusive field, but also situate the various ways in which affect is exposed through analysis. It aims to give a broad theoretical overview of the many entanglements between different schools of post-structuralist theory that can be seen to have contributed to the affective turn. Special attention is given to the politically motivated concerns within intersectional feminism, queer, crip and disability theory and critiques of neoliberalism, as well as ontologically formulated problems within posthuman thought and new materialism. While these terms may seem hard to navigate, this workshop aims to bring them together as different theoretical engagements with the materiality of the body, creating a first basis for a better theoretical understanding of the situatedness of what can be said is affect theory.


Suggested Bibliography (not required):

Massumi, Brian. “The Autonomy of Affect.” Cultural Critique, vol. 31, Telos Press, Oct. 1995.

Seigworth Gregory J., Melissa Gregg, “An Inventory of Shimmers”, The Affect Theory Reader. Gregg, Melissa, and Gregory J. Seigworth (eds.), Duke University Press, 2010.

Literary Studies | David E. Susa | 26.01.2021 | 14-16 | Online via Webex


‘A Million Possible Things’: Introduction to Magic Realism


This workshop introduces the polysemic and debated concept of Magic Realism. From its original formulation by the German art critics Franz Roh in 1925, this denomination became one of the most important categories for describing a heterogenic set of artistic works from the mid- to late-twentieth century. This session will reconstruct the origins, history and importance Magic Realism, as well as the debates surrounding its usefulness as a scholarly concept. Literature will be the privileged art form of the workshop and special emphasis will be placed on Latin-Americans authors, whose contribution to this style of writing and its understanding is undeniable.


The session will start with a general introduction, explaining the trajectory of the driving concept, followed by an overview of its features, which will be contrasted with other simultaneous/similar artistic movements. Later, the attendees will receive text samples to read and discuss. The fragments will be then contextualized by the instructor, and finally, the session will close with a brief overview of the contemporary approaches to Magic Realism, including, for instance, unnatural narratology.


Suggested Bibliography (not required):

Roh, Franz (1995/1925). “Magic Realism: Post-Expressionism”. In Parkinson Zamora, Lois and Faris, Wendy B. (Eds). Magical Realism: Theory, History, Community. Durham (USA): Duke University Press.

Carpentier, Alejo (1995/1949). "On the Marvelous Real in America". In Parkinson Zamora, Lois and Faris, Wendy B. (Eds). Magical Realism: Theory, History, Community. Durham (USA): Duke University Press.


Cultural Studies | Liza Bauer | 09.02.2021 | 14-16 | Online via Webex


Practicing Human-Animal Studies during the COVID-19 Pandemic


In a recent EU webinar hosted by the campaigning group ‘Compassion in World Farming’, primatologist Jane Goodall designated the COVID-19 pandemic as a direct outcome of humankind’s disrespect for the environment and nonhuman animals. Alongside with this notorious voice in human-animal studies, scholars in the field have been examining how human-animal relations are being theorized and practiced in more and less peaceful ways, thereby attending to the multiple entanglements of more-than-human life with human societies.


An outcome of such entanglements, COVID-19 faces these scholars with a controversial situation: Having evolved from a zoonosis (an infectious disease being transmitted from nonhuman to human animals), the global crisis calls for an increased distance between humans and nonhumans, whereas lockdowns and social distancing all over the world simultaneously bring people closer to their nonhuman companions with whom they share their homes.


This workshop seeks to provide an overview on the various ways in which the COVID-19 pandemic affects human-animal relations. In order to do so, the emergence of the virus as a zoonosis, the explosion of fake news and critical memes of the dominant narrative ‘nature is healing, we are the virus,’ and social media content on intense human-animal contact will be examined and analysed from a critical animal studies perspective. While engaging with these current and practical examples, participants will be made familiar with Giorgio Agamben’s ‘anthropological machine’ (2004) and Donna Haraway’s conception of ‘natureculture’ (2003), two central ideas in human-animal studies which frame nature/culture and human/animal binaries as socio-political constructs. The aim of the workshop is thus to provide participants with a hands-on experience of how bringing the nonhuman to the fore in cultural analyses can provide fruitful insights into socio-cultural phenomena.


Suggested Bibliography (not required):

Agamben, Giorgio. The Open: Man and Animal. transl. Kevin Attell, Dt. Erstausg., 1. Aufl. zum 40jährigen Bestehen der Ed. Suhrkamp, 4. Aufl., Stanford University Press, 2004.

Goodall, Jane. “If We Don’t Do Things Differently, We’re Finished.” Compassion in World Farming. Webinar 02 June 2020.

Haraway, Donna Jeanne. The Companion Species Manifesto: Dogs, People, and Significant Otherness, Prickly Paradigm; University Presses Marketing, 2003. Paradigm 8.