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Ergebnisanzeige "GSA 2014: Swiss Studies Seminar: Peter von Matt"
RessourcentypCall for Papers
TitelGSA 2014: Swiss Studies Seminar: Peter von Matt
BeschreibungCall for Participants in Swiss Studies Seminar (Sept. 18-21, 2014, Kansas City, MO; annual conference of the German Studies Association)

Das Kalb vor der Gotthardpost:
Swiss Culture, History, and Politics in the Work of Peter von Matt

Sponsored by the Swiss Studies Interdisciplinary Network

1. Description of Seminar's Intellectual Goals

In 2012, Peter von Matt capped a long and impressive career as Switzerland's preeminent literary critic by winning the Schweizer Buchpreis for his collection of essays, Das Kalb vor der Gotthardpost, the only non-belletristic work ever to have received the prize. Like his earlier collection Die tintenblauen Eidgenossen, Das Kalb vor der Gotthardpost strikingly displays the most noteworthy element of von Matt's criticism: a virtuosic ability to move back and forth between literature, history, and politics, so that the reader feels he has caught a glimpse into unexplored nooks of the Swiss soul. Sometimes von Matt accomplishes this through close analyses of particular authors; at other times, he ranges more broadly, following specific themes or historical trends as they appear in a range of literary works. Invariably, however, the reader of von Matt's essays walks away with a richer understanding of Swiss identity and its broader place within European and Western culture.

The purpose of this seminar is to use these two volumes of Peter von Matt's essays--especially the more recent, prize-winning Das Kalb vor der Gotthardpost, but also Die tintenblauen Eidgenossen--as an interdisciplinary window onto the intersections between Swiss history, politics, and literature. We are interested both in exploring his own thought and in using his work as a jumping-off point for considering the issues with which he deals. Alongside the books' examinations of major Swiss authors or particular works, two themes in particular reverberate throughout the essays: Switzerland's encounter with the broader trends of European modernity, as it has experienced phenomena such as industrialization, liberalization, or globalization; and an attempt to discern the meaning and value of Swiss nationalism and patriotism.

The seminar thus presents an opportunity both to assess the work of Peter von Matt and also to honor his example through an examination--in the interdisciplinary spirit of his own work--of the themes he has discussed so insightfully.

We have some hopes of partnering with the Swiss consulate in order to bring Professor von Matt to Kansas City in order to participate in the seminar himself, but at this point those plans are not definitive. Should Professor von Matt attend, the seminar would be conducted in German.

2. Seminar Structure and Procedures

All participants will be expected to have read Das Kalb vor der Gotthardpost in advance of the seminar. They will also be encouraged (though not required) to have read Die tintenblauen Eidgenossen. The three days of the seminar will be structured thematically along lines hinted at in the preceding description of the seminar's goals:
(1) Day One: Focus on Switzerland's experience of and confrontation with European
modernity, including phenomena such as industrialization, liberalization, and
(2) Day Two: Focus on Swiss nationalism and patriotism, their meaning, content, and
(3) Day Three: Focus on particular authors or works examined in von Matt's essays

Participants will have written and submitted short 2000-2500 essays on one of these topics. These essays will be distributed in advance and will form the basis of each day's discussion. Because the essays will have been distributed in advance, we will not have formal paper presentations during the seminar itself; rather, the conveners will use the day's essays to structure and moderate each morning's conversation.

The conveners will be responsible for collecting essays ahead of the conference and distributing them to participants, and they will share the duties of moderating each day's discussion. On the basis of their reading of the day's essays, they will formulate a short set of discussion questions to focus the morning's conversation. These can be distributed to participants (who will have already had the papers) shortly in advance of the conference--a week should suffice--and will then serve to structure the daily conversations.

The conveners hope that the revised essays might form the basis for an edited collection engaging von Matt's work.

Proposed Size of Seminar

* 16-20 participants
* possible inclusion of 6-10 additional silent auditors

Those interested in applying should visit the GSA website ( and enroll electronically under "membership services>conference proposals." The deadline for seminar applications is January 30. Questions can be directed to Peter Meilaender at
Quelle der BeschreibungInformation des Anbieters
VeranstaltungsortKansas City
Ediert von  H-Germanistik
Ein Angebot vonGermanistik im Netz
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