As the title suggests, the first conference of the German Institutional Partnership (GIP) between the German Seminar of Freiburg’s Albert-Ludwigs-Universität, Centre of German Studies of Jawaharlal Nehru University, Department of Germanic and Romance Studies of University of Delhi and Department of German of Mumbai University set itself a broad target of exploring and expanding the horizons of Literary and Cultural Studies. It took place from 17 to 19 September 2018.
The papers presented made full use of the wide spectrum available to the participants and the lively discussions that followed were a tangible sign of the interest that the participants had brought with them. It was heartening to see the lack of any form of exclusion or exclusivity of the so-called binaries of German Studies in Germany and German Studies Abroad. The choice of themes covered in the conference reflected the diversity of research interests of the presenters. Apart from the main areas of Literary and Cultural Studies, the themes also included a history of the emergence of this discipline in India and an initiative to train University teachers in the didactics of foreign language teaching. The exploration of literary works from the perspective of the Ganesha Complex, as an expansion of the Oedipus Complex, offered new inputs for engaging with the discipline. One documentary explored the afterlife of a literary work: in this case a Grimm’s fairy tale show. Another presentation showed how contact with other languages and cultural contexts enriches language. A number of papers highlighted literary exchange, and the fact that German Studies is in constant involvement with the socio-political developments, such as the influx of ‘refugees’.
The conference not only offered a platform to experienced and well-established scholars but also to those relatively new to German Studies. Other indicators of its commitment to being inclusive were invitations to Centres and Departments of German Studies that might be termed as young entrants. Even the youngest entrants to German Studies, the students, showed remarkable interest in the 3-day proceedings and did not shy away from enquiring. Their enthusiastic participation was very encouraging for the presenters.
A workshop conducted at the University of Delhi after the conference was a further indication of the interest such academic exchanges generate. This amalgamation of ideas has provided enough focal points for a number of future conferences. Conferences such as this one don’t just expand the boundaries of German Studies … they explode the boundaries.
Report by Namita Khare, PhD Scholar, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi