CfP: Aftermath: German and Austrian cultural responses to the end of the First World War (1918-1933)

The international workshop ‘Aftermath: German and Austrian cultural responses to the end of the First World War’ will be held at King’s College London on 13-15 September 2018.

The end of World War I marked the beginning of a period of political turbulence and social upheaval in both Germany and Austria. Contrary to popular belief, the conflict did not end overnight with the signing of the Armistice on 11th November 1918; instead, a lengthy series of peace negotiations took place, concluding with the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923. These negotiations and treaties resulted in considerable losses for both Germany and Austria: national boundaries were redrawn and colonial territories removed, reparations were imposed, and Germany and her allies were compelled to accept full blame for the conflict. In their early years, the Weimar Republic and the First Austrian Republic were buffeted by revolts and uprisings from both right and left, as different political groups sought to assert their competing visions of post-war society.

In spite of these turbulent events, the years after World War I saw the development of a flourishing cultural scene. As major centres of European modernism, Germany and Austria became associated with writers, musicians, artists and filmmakers who engaged in radical formal experimentation and rejected conventional values and aesthetic norms. Yet the post-war period also saw the resurgence and reinvention of more traditional modes of representation through movements such as Neue Sachlichkeit [new objectivity] and the ‘return to order’. Recent scholarship has highlighted the falsity of the traditional dichotomy of the ‘progressive’ and the ‘anti-modern’, showing how the co-existence of plural and seemingly contradictory cultural practices reflected specifically modern anxieties about language, culture and politics. However, questions still remain about the impact of war and defeat on post-war cultural production: in what ways did ‘the double wound of war and defeat fester beneath the […] surface’ [Anton Kaes] of interwar culture? And to what extent did the need to come to terms with experiences of loss and defeat result in what Jay Winter terms the ‘recasting of traditional language’ in an ‘attempt to find collective solace’ after 1918?

The approaching centenary of 1918 offers a timely opportunity to assess the impact of the end of World War I on German and Austrian cultural production in the interwar period. This interdisciplinary workshop aims to shed light on ways in which German and Austrian literature, art, music and film were shaped – both directly and indirectly – by experiences of wartime defeat and political unrest in the period up to 1933. How did cultural practitioners respond to the various peace settlements of 1918-1923, and how did they engage with the associated political turmoil and social upheaval? What role did culture play in envisioning and shaping a new, post-war society? And in what ways did the legacy of the war continue to influence the cultural production of the interwar years?

Scholarship on this area has often tended to concentrate on certain left-wing intellectuals and pacifists, regarding the experience of military defeat and the consequences of the peace treaties of 1918-23 as a taboo subject for all but a few individuals. The workshop seeks to broaden this focus by exposing the rich variety of cultural responses to the end of the war and considering their significance for our understanding of the cultural climate in which the Weimar Republic and the First Austrian Republic came into existence. Its comparative, interdisciplinary scope will enable similarities and differences to be traced across various forms of cultural practice, allowing light to be shed on the shifting relationships between politics and aesthetics in this period.

We invite proposals for papers of 20 minutes in length. Possible topics include, but are not limited to, cultural engagement with the following:

– Peace and (ongoing) conflict
– Experiences of defeat, questions of war guilt and individual/collective responsibility;
– Revolutionary politics and revolution(s);
– Territorial losses and the reshaping of national identity;
– Internationalism and the foundation of a new global order;
– The return of war veterans and their adaptation to civilian life;
– Women’s responses to the end of the war and their emergence as political subjects;
– Commemoration, memory and memorialisation;
– Modern vs. ‘anti-modern’ aesthetic practices;
– Visions of a post-war society.

Please send a 300-word abstract and a brief biographical note to Catherine Smale ( by 31 January 2018.

The workshop will include a guided tour of the exhibition ‘Aftermath: Art in the wake of WW1’ at Tate Britain, as well as a screening of G. W. Pabst’s film Westfront 1918 – Vier von der Infanterie (1930) held in collaboration with the German Screen Studies Network. Keynote talks will be given by Ingrid Sharp (Leeds) and James Van Dyke (Missouri). Conversations are underway for the publication of selected papers in a journal special issue in 2019.

CfP: Sites of Interchange: Modernism, Politics, and Culture in Britain and Germany, 1919-1951

CFP Submission Deadline: 15 November 2017

The Courtauld Institute of Art, conference to be held: 2-3 November 2018

Early twentieth-century Germany was a site of extremes, in which art and architectural production were entangled in the swiftly changing political and social landscape. Radical utopias and pragmatic solutions for art and life were proposed, creating a crossroads of unparalleled burgeoning cultural outpouring in the midst of extreme politics. Britain in the same period could be characterized as comparatively stable, a nation often wedded to established traditions in the face of economic, political and social developments. Yet throughout the period, there remained a lively interchange between the two countries. This conference proposes to look anew at the complicated and entangled cultural relationship between Britain and Germany in the first decades of the twentieth century.

With the end of the First World War, Britain was in the position of victor – yet it was Germany which was given the opportunity to forge a new society and a progressive republic, in which culture was to play a central role. The foundation of the Bauhaus in 1919 became perhaps the most influential articulation of this new optimism – distinctly German, it was nonetheless born from both British Arts and Crafts ideas and a desire to answer British nineteenth-century industrial dominance, as displayed at the Great Exhibition of 1851. During the 1920s and ‘30s, British figures from both ends of the political spectrum were drawn to Germany for inspiration. Many from the British art world were fascinated by Germany’s Weimar Republic, with its breaking down of social, cultural and artistic barriers. In the following decade, many in Britain were intrigued by the new National Socialist regime. With the arrival of émigrés fleeing Hitler in the years after 1933, Britain was exposed to a cross-section of German culture, in particular modernism. Britons and international artists – not limited to those holding German passports, but including those who had worked there – formed new groups and collaborations. By 1939 the countries were once again at war. Following World War II, modernism in Britain flourished in the arts with renewed vigour. The Festival of Britain in 1951, in which many of the German émigrés who had settled in Britain were involved, marked a high point of modernism in London.

This conference sets out to explore the connections between British and German culture during the period 1919-1951, in the fields of art, architecture, design and craft, photography, art history and theory, and art pedagogy. How did the British learn from and influence the Germans in these areas? How did the Germans learn from and influence the British? And what is the significance of these cultural connections today? We solicit 20-minute papers from scholars and museum professionals (at any stage of their careers) that set out to explore these questions.

Topics for proposed papers may include but are not limited to:
– The influence of British ideas in the culture of the Weimar Republic, and the extent to which Weimar ideas reached Britain
– Displacement of German artists, architects, designers, photographers to Britain after 1933, and the significance of time spent in Britain (including German émigrés who later emigrated elsewhere)
– The cultural impact of émigrés from National Socialism in Britain
– British official and individual responses to National Socialist cultural policy in the period 1933-1945, and attitudes towards British culture in National Socialist Germany
– The impact of Germany on post-war British culture
– The impact of Britain on post-war German culture, particularly in areas under British occupation
– German practitioners who studied, travelled or worked in Britain, or who drew influence from the country, and vice versa
– The impact of the German experience on a subsequent British work of art, building, or object, and vice versa
– Displays of German culture in Britain, and vice versa (governmental, museum, commercial, private)
– Collectors, patrons and supporters of German culture in Britain, and vice versa
– The awareness and impact of German cultural theory in Britain, and vice versa
– Perception of German culture in Britain, and vice versa
– The prevalence of ideas of “shared cultural heritage”

The conference will take place at the Courtauld Institute of Art, London, on Friday 2 November and Saturday 3 November 2018.

Submissions are to be made by midnight GMT, Wednesday 15 November 2017, by email with the subject line “Sites of Interchange” to both of the organisers: Dr Robin Schuldenfrei ( and Dr Lucy Wasensteiner (

Please combine in a single PDF file:
– A proposed title and abstract (max. 400 words) for a 20-minute paper
– A current CV

The conference is being organised on the occasion of the exhibition London 1938: A Statement for Modern German Art / London 1938: Ein Statement für die deutsche Kunst which will take place at the Wiener Library in London from 13 June to 31 August 2018 and at the Liebermann-Villa am Wannsee in Berlin from 7 October 2018 to 14 January 2019.

Funds will be available towards travel and hotel costs. The accepted papers may be considered for publication in a forthcoming edited volume.

Supported by the German Federal Cultural Foundation.

CfP: Living the German Revolution 1918-19: Expectations, Experiences, Responses

The German Revolution of 1918-19 marks a historical turning point at which, following the catastrophe of the Great War, soldiers and civilians rose up to overthrow the German Empire’s political and military leadership. The approaching centenary offers a timely occasion to re-evaluate its contested history and memory by focussing on the socio-cultural realm of expectations, experiences and responses. The German Revolution was a key event in the era of seismic transnational upheaval which shook Europe between 1916 and 1923. An advanced industrial economy with the most powerful organised labour movement in the world, Germany was practically, strategically and symbolically critical to competing visions of the future in this new age of revolution. ‘The absolute truth’, wrote Lenin, ‘is that without revolution in Germany we shall perish’.

The conference proposes to re-evaluate the history of the German Revolution by shifting attention to the practices and agency of protagonists and stakeholders beyond the political elites. It seeks to explore the subjective dimension of the events and to investigate the diverse expectations, experiences and responses of Germans old and young, female and male, rural and urban, Catholic, Protestant and Jewish. For despite its evident significance as a historical watershed, the German Revolution remains poorly understood. Scholarship has made faltering progress since the historiography of the 1960s and 1970s, which concentrated on the constitutional and high political course of the revolution. While the notion that historians have ‘forgotten’ the German Revolution is no longer entirely accurate, it remains one of the least-studied transitions in European history.

The conference’s new perspective will register, among other topics, the revolution’s popular mobilisation and societal penetration, its impact on everyday life, its destruction of inherited patterns of authority, its generation of new affiliations, boundaries and cultural expressions, and its complex and contested legacy for the Weimar Republican project. It will establish an intellectual toolkit to analyse the creation, performance and experience of revolution and democratic citizenship, focusing on the dynamics of language, symbolism, practices, gender, emotions and mentalities.

While the focus of the conference rests on events between November 1918 and May 1919, we welcome contributions that critique this timeframe and situate the German Revolution within longer-term developments. By the same token, a comparative approach that combines different regional case studies, investigates the dynamics between centres and peripheries, and explores the impact of events in other countries, such as Russia, Hungary and Italy, on the German Revolution (and vice versa) will help to situate the events of 1918-19 within a broader European culture of protest, political upheaval and social change. We welcome interdisciplinary approaches.

Themes might include:

• The creation and performance of revolutionary politics
• Patterns of political and cultural demobilization and remobilization in wake of the Great War
• Individual expectations and experiences in cultural settings such as the metropolis, small towns or countryside as well as in the virtual realm of media and the arts
• Revolutionary economics
• Gender and the German Revolution
• Paramilitarism and violence
• Protestants, Catholics, Jews and the German Revolution
• Different ideas of politics and social participation developed during these months in different contexts and by different groups of actors (including an analysis of their particular semantics)
• The impact of these ideas of politics and social participation on the longue durée history of democracy in Germany from the Weimar Republic to the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Benjamin Ziemann (Sheffield) will deliver the conference’s keynote lecture.

The organisers aim to secure funding to defray the travel and accommodation expenses of participants. Conversations are underway for the publication of contributors’ papers within an edited volume to be published as close as possible to the centenary.

The language of the conference is English.
Contact Info:
Please send proposals of up to 350 words and a brief biographical note by 1st November 2017