CfP: On Seriality

Graduate Student Conference
Department of German Studies, Cornell University
1-2 May 2015
Stichtag: 2015 01 31

Keynote speakers: Christiane Frey (NYU), David Martyn (Macalester College)

This conference aims to bring together the various angles mobilized by scholars in the humanities to approach the concept of “seriality”: the understanding of the series as an aesthetic form with a specific narrative and formal structure (the serial novel, television series, graphic novels);as a practice of production and publication linked to historical and material conditions, or, more specifically, as the common logic underlying mass media and mass production since the “age of mechanical reproducibility” (Benjamin); and as a mode of connecting and structuring sets of similar, related, or repeating events, objects or occurrences (ranging from historiography to discourses of pathology and crime).

We are interested in the ways “seriality” can function as common ground for dialogue between these discourses, and look forward to exploring the intersections and interrelations between different manifestations of and approaches to seriality, as they relate to questions of repetition and continuity, singularity and iterability, sequences, intervals and episodes, conjunctions and transitions, unity and open-endedness. We welcome the exploration of seriality within the literary and cultural realm, but are equally interested in the function of seriality within other disciplines and contexts.

Conference contributions might engage with the following questions:

  • Series and narrative. What is specific to the serial form that separates it from a stand-alone novel or film? What is the relationship between two episodes or installments in a series, and how does a narrative continuity overcome, displace, or derive from the interruptions between these installments? How can we understand the different “endings” that are at play in a serial novel, graphic novel, or the television series?
  • Series and repetition. When thinking seriality in relation to recurrence,repetition, and difference, we find series in works of art and art history (Warhol, Monet), in economic production (assembly line and mechanical production), in technology (code, digital seriality), in discourses of criminality (serial killers, serial offenders). Sports teams play in series, and we speak of a series of (uncanny, unusual, but also mundane, daily)events. Series can also be accumulative: we gather a series of evidence to conduct a scientific experiment, to investigate a criminal case, or todiagnose an illness or pathology.
  • Series, production, reproduction. Narrative series (serial novels) and serial production (factories) increase at the same point historically. How does the development and continuity of a serial narrative account for, derive from, or embrace the new age of mechanical production and, later, “mechanical reproducibility”

Please submit abstracts of 300 words or less by January 31, 2015 to

Abstracts must include a cover letter with the author’s name, paper title, affiliation, telephone number and email address. Presentations are to last 20 minutes and must be in English. Submissions are accepted from graduate students only. Submissions from all fields relevant to the topic arewelcome.

Further information:

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