The German Studies Association is one of the most active and vibrant scholarly organizations in our field. It has approximately 1500 members. The annual GSA conference is a highlight of the academic year for many professors of German literature, culture and history, and more relevant to our discipline now than the Modern Language Association meeting. The organization of the GSA meeting provides a variety of flexible formats for fostering new research and new models of interdisciplinarity, among them the seminar. Each seminar meets three times over the course of the conference usually during the first meeting period of the day (from 8-10 AM). Since all participants are motivated and contributing members of the seminar, this setting is ideal for productive, informed discussion and feedback.
Our seminar “About Margins and Contact Zones: 500 Years of Dutch-German Cultural Interaction” will bring together scholars working on the intersections of Dutch, Flemish, and German culture. The idea is that in the case of smaller cultural entities like the Netherlands and Flemish-speaking Belgium, a “national” approach misses an essential aspect of these cultures: their higher receptiveness to impulses coming from surrounding cultural traditions. Because of their assumed marginality, such cultures have a meaningful function as contact zones. In the case of the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany, we have three distinct but historically, geographically, and linguistically proximate cultures. Over the course of five centuries, discernible patterns of interaction, refraction, and projection have developed. There is a long and varied tradition of artistic, intellectual, and cultural interaction. Individual papers will offer case studies of these interactions and cumulatively contribute to new models for understanding their patterns.
Short papers of up to 3000 words, written in English or German, are due by July 29 so that they can be pre-circulated among the seminar participants. The paper should include and may emphasize reflection on the precise mode of cultural interaction represented by the texts or cultural phenomena in question. Our intention is to publish revised proceedings of the seminar as a volume on Netherlandic-German cultural relations.