Hermes symposium 2010

Travelling Concepts, Metaphors, and Narratives:

Literary and Cultural Studies in an Age of Interdisciplinary Research


International Graduate Centre for the Study of Culture, Justus-Liebig-University, Giessen

Schloss Rauischholzhausen, University of Giessen (Germany)



Sunday, 13 June

17.00      Shuttle leaves Giessen main station

17.45      Arrival at Rauischholzhausen Castle

18.30      Reception & dinner


Monday, 14 June (Rauischholzhausen Castle)

from 7:30 Breakfast

9.00        Welcome

9.15          Keynote: Travelling Concepts, Metaphors and Narratives. On the Complexity, Risks and Chances of Conceptual Transfers (Wolfgang Hallet & Ansgar Nünning)

10.00      Discussion

10.30      Coffee break

11.00        Session 1: Aesthetic Stability and Literary Unreliability (chair: Karen M. Simonsen)

1. Poul Bjergegaard (Aarhus): “Authority, Knowledge, Fiction, and the Question of Aesthetic Stability”

2. Robert Vogt (GCSC): “What is True After All? The Concept of Narrative Unreliability in Literary Studies and Film Studies”

12.30      Lunch

14.00      Session 2: Space and Time as Travelling Concepts (chair: Jan Baetens)

3. Astrid Bryder Steffensen (Aarhus): “Space as Intermedium: A Transhistorical Perspective on the Concept of Space”

4. Jessica R. Boll (Wisconsin-Madison): “A Tale of Two Cities: The Image of Urban Space in Early Modern Spain and the Ottoman Empire”

5. Nina Lange (GCSC): “Time as Travelling Concept”

16.00      Coffee break

16.30       Session 3: Monstrous Metaphors and Mobility (chair: Ansgar Nünning)

6. Tanja Poulsen (Aarhus): “The Monster as Metaphor”

7. Lisa Villarreal (Stanford): “Dead Man Walking: Bram Stoker’s Dracula and the Monstrous Form of Nineteenth-Century Mobility”

18.00      End of sessions

18.30      Dinner

20.00      Screening of Hans Christian Schmid’s Lichter

Tuesday, 15 June (Rauischholzhausen Castle)

from 7:30 Breakfast

9.00        Session 4: Narratological Concepts (chair: tba)

8. Jonas Ivo Meyer (GCSC): “Export and Reimport: The ‘Travels’ of Narratological Concepts”

9. Greice Schneider (Leuven): “The Dynamics of Boredom in the Narrative         Tissue”

10.30      Coffee break

11.00        Session 5: Hearing Voices & Speaking Silence: Travelling Senses (chair: Ellen Sapega)

10. Thomas Bjørnsten Kristensen (Aarhus): “Intermedial Silences and Pervasive Noises“

11. Steven Surdiacourt (Leuven): “Can You Hear Me Drawing? ‘Voice’ and the Graphic Novel”

12.30      Lunch

14.00      Session 6: Concepts of Self and Identity (chair: Sibylle Baumbach )

12. Georgia Panteli (UCL): “Travelling Archetype”

13. Netta Nakari (Finnish Grad School): “‘Writing about the Self Through Time and Discipline”

14. Karolina May-Chu (Wisconsin-Madison): “Identity at the Border: Imagining the East in Hans Christian Schmid’s Film Lichter

16.00      Coffee break

16.30      Session 7: Morality, Historiography and Literature (chair: Pirjo Lyytikäinen)

15. Nuno Gomes Ferreira (Lisbon): “Narrative as Moral Commitment: from Theory of History to Literature”

16. Lynn Wolff (Wisconsin-Madison): “Historiography and Literary Discourse: The Diachronic Journey of a Co-Dependence”

18.00      End of sessions

18.30      Dinner

Wednesday, 16 June – Symposium Day (Humboldt-Guesthouse, JLU)

from 7:30 Breakfast

9.00        Shuttle-bus leaves Rauischholzhausen

10.00      Symposium starts (Alexander von Humboldt Guesthouse, JLU)

10.30        B. Venkat Mani (Wisconsin-Madison): “Travelling Books: World Literatures and Bibliomigrancy”

11.30        Herbert Grabes (JLU): “Emergence as Travelling Concept”

12.30        Lunch

14.00        Anneleen Masschelein (Leuven): Conceptualization and Heterogeneity: The Uncanny Encounter of Humanities, Robotics and the Return of Animism

15.00        Peter Haslinger (Herder Institute/JLU): “Shifting spaces – Hanging Concepts of Territory in Historiography and Critical Geography”

16.00      Guided tour Giessen (Vera Stadelmann)

18.00      Shuttle to Rauischholzhausen Castle

19.00      Dinner

Thursday, 17 June (Rauischholzhausen Castle)

from 7:30 Breakfast

9.00          Session 8: Concepts of Liberalism and Experientiality (chair: César Dominguez)

17. Frederick Van Dam (Leuven): “The Concept of Liberalism in Victorian Studies: Anthony Trollope and the Casualties of Aesthetic Ideology”

18. Christina Mohr (GCSC): “The Feeling of What It’s Like – Experientiality as a Travelling Concept”

10.30      Coffee break

11.00        Session 9: Intersectionality (chair: Beatrice Michaelis)

19. Duarte Drumond Braga (Lisbon): “Fernando Pessoa’s Orientalism and the ‘mystic East’ of Theosophical Literature”

20. Thibaut Raboin (UCL): “LGBT Asylum Seekers in French and British Public Spheres: Studying the Emergence of a ‘Social Problem’”

12.30      Lunch

14.00      Master Classes (parallel sessions)

1. “Travelling Concepts as a Model for the Study of Culture” (Birgit Neumann)

2. “Travelling Concepts of Authorship in Literature, Culture, and the Digital Humanities” (Ingo Berensmeyer)

In-between (16.00-16.30): coffee break

14.00      Hermes-Consortium: Business Meeting

18.30      Dinner

Friday, 18 June (Rauischholzhausen Castle)

from 7:30 Breakfast

9.00        Session 10: Lost in Translation? (chair: Sibylle Baumbach)

21. Tuomas Juntunen (Finnish Grad School): “Manifestations of the Tragic in Juha Seppälä’s Fiction“

22. Djurdja Trajkovic (Wisconsin-Madison): “Lost in Translation: Cartonera Publishers in Latin America”

11.00       Coffee break

11.30        Final discussion

12.30      Bus leaves for Heidelberg

15.00      Arrival & check-in

16.00      Heidelberg & Heidelberg University guided tour (Vera Stadelmann)

19.30        Final conference dinner, Kulturbrauerei Heidelberg

Saturday, 19 June (Heidelberg)

Individual departure of participants



Call for Papers


In the current age of interdisciplinary research, a common, shared language is indispensable to enable discussion and exchange across different disciplines and to support the dialogue and collaboration between scholars from different (national) cultures of knowledge. Concepts such as ‘performance’, ‘narration’, ‘space’, ‘media’, ‘communication’, ‘identity’, ‘body’, ‘intertextuality’, and ‘knowledge’ (Mieke Bal 2002), succeed in establishing a transdisciplinary contact zone and thus provide the foundation for such a common language. Like metaphors and narratives, they shape and structure the ways in which we discuss literature and culture, engage in interdisciplinary research, and order our experiences and knowledge of the world.

Rather than being univocal or firmly established, however, the meaning and operational value of concepts, metaphors, and narratives are subject to variation and expansion as they are continuously re-embedded and re-defined in different cultural and literary contexts: ‘Travelling’ back and forth between disciplines, historical periods, and (national) cultures of knowledge and research, answering the demands of the time, and adhering to paradigms dominant in a specific field of research, the cultural ‘baggage’ of concepts, metaphors, and narratives is continuously checked and contested and might be expanded or modified as new meanings are added or old ones become lost. Especially nowadays, in an age of interdisciplinary and increasingly transnational research, concepts, metaphors, and narratives are ‘on the move’, travelling across different cultural contexts, gaining access to new fields of investigation while promoting their continuous re-negotiation and re-adaptation.

The Hermes symposium 2010 invites participants to trace the journeys of concepts, metaphors, and narratives across different boundaries in the fields of literary and cultural studies and further explore the challenges, impediments, and transformations that occur during their literary and cultural transition(s). What actually happens when concepts, metaphors, and narratives travel across disciplinary, historical, and national boundaries? How do these ‘travellers’ change, what do they leave behind or gain on their way to new territories? What role does literature play in these journeys, especially in the establishment of newly adapted concepts, metaphors, and narratives? And, finally, are there any hazards, dangers, or even limits to the travelling of concepts?

Participants are invited to address the topic of the conference by identifying key concepts, metaphors, and narratives which are at the core of their own research. Papers should explore the travelling of one (or more) specific concept, metaphor, or narrative in a (historical) case-study, investigating its (e.g. heuristic) function(s) and tracing its journey across different disciplines, cultures of research, and historical periods.

Aspects to be discussed might include, but are not restricted to, the analysis of

  • cultural and literary preconditions facilitating the ‘import’ and ‘export’ of concepts, metaphors, and narratives (e.g. cultural or historical changes, developments within specific research cultures);
  • agents, events, or other factors initiating and promoting these journeys by supporting the dialogue between different disciplines (e.g. the impact of ‘cultural turns’, globalisation of research cultures);
  • interactions and exchanges of concepts, metaphors, and narratives, which are ‘on the move’ (e.g. investigating the relation between concepts of ‘media’ and ‘knowledge’, ‘performance’ and ‘identity’, across several eras, disciplines, cultures of research);
  • different stages of transformation concepts undergo as they migrate between different disciplines, national cultures and historical periods (e.g. the cultural or semantic ‘baggage’ that is left behind or gained on the concepts’ journeys; the development of specific concepts during their travels);
  • the sustainability of traditional concepts, metaphors, and narratives and the emergence of new ones (which concepts persist over time and which are altered, even reinvented in the course of their journeys, and why?);
  • different ways taken in the translation, adaptation, and travelling of concepts, metaphors, and narratives;
  • potential limits and hazards to the travelling of concepts, metaphors, and narratives;
  • the functions of travelling concepts - or concepts with more than one disciplinary or historical definition - in relation to the analysis of concrete texts or artefacts.



Abstracts of approximately 250 words should be submitted to Sibylle Baumbach ( ) and Ansgar Nünning ( ) by 01 March 2010 .