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THE THREAT AND ALLURE OF THE MAGICAL in Literature, Language, Philosophy, History and the Arts


13-15 March 2009
“The Threat and Allure of the Magical in Literature, Language, Philosophy, History and the Arts”

17th Annual Interdisciplinary German Studies Conference at the University of California, Berkeley March 13-15, 2009

Dating back to the 9th Century Old High German Merseburg Incantations (die Merseburger Zaubersprüche) and their influence on the fairy-tale world of the Brothers Grimm, references to the magical boil forth from a wide range of cultural forms, from Mozart’s The Magic Flute (Die Zauberflöte) in music to Werner Herzog’s Invincible in film. In silent film, modern literature and the arts, magic both heralded and haunted an artistic revolution in which the avant-garde and the occult recurrently intersected. In critical theory, ideology is often described in terms of a spell. Accordingly, this conference presents an opportunity to explore these cultural encounters with the magical and further inquire why this space of radical alterity carries such an allure and/or threat.

Thus, we invite scholars from all disciplines to submit paper proposals in German or English on the questions of the magical and its role in the German-speaking world. Possible topics include but are not limited to:

The magical in art, film, music, pop-culture and history
The occult and the avant-garde
Nazism and the occult
The magical in the language of critical thought
The mesmerizing, magical aspects of ideology
The magical in courtly culture, Renaissance and the Early Modern
Linguistic alchemy
The magical in philosophy (for example, the Veil of Maya in the works of Schopenhauer and Nietzsche)
Magical Realism
Astrology and Alchemy in literature
Magic in fairy tales and folklore
The weird, strange and the other
The living dead/creatures of myth and magic in film and literature
The language of incantations and spells

Please send an abstract of not more than 250 words with a separate cover sheet indicating the proposed title, author’s name, affiliation, and email address to:

Ashwin Manthripragada/Emina Musanovic/Dagmar Theison
Department of German,
University of California, Berkeley
Berkeley, CA 94720-3243


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