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Sensing Senses Program

SENSING SENSES: An Interdisciplinary Conference in Sensory Perception and German Studies
February 17-19, 2012
University of Massachusetts Amherst



Friday – February 17, 2012 – Max Kade Lounge, Thatcher House

5:00 – 7:00 p.m. — Registration and Reception

7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. — Sensorium: German Short Films and Animation (2006-2010)

In honor of UMass Amherst’s long-time collaboration with the Goethe-Institut Boston and the German state of Baden-Württemberg as well as its new collaboration with the Academy of Film and Television “Konrad Wolf” in Potsdam-Babelsberg, the graduate students are proud to offer a program of award-winning short films and animation from young filmmakers in Germany. These films are engaging, delightful, and rarely screened on U.S. soil.  The event is free and open to the public.

* A preview of the films of Eija-Liisa Ahtila, whose recent work The Annunciation (2010) premieres at the UMass FAC Gallery on February 22, 2012 (

* The Last Wheel (Das letzte Rad, dir. Olaf Held, 2009)
An old man finishes the last wheel for his great escape.

* Repitu (dir. Jana Richtmeyer, 2010)
One moment of inattention and the race against time, weather and technology begins.

* Hinterland (dir. Jakob Weyde / Jost Althoff, 2010)
In order to entertain himself, a bored bear gets himself an iPod. But then it is stolen and he finds himself racing after it into the great unknown.

* Anything But Sound (Alles außer Hören, dir. Peter Hecker, 2008)
The portrait of the everyday life of a deaf family. Their sensitivity to the visual is acute, and their means of communication engrossing.

* Illusion (dir. Carola Diekmann, 2006)
The illusion of authority lets a Berlin fare inspector continue to ply her trade.

* Hilda and Karl (Hilda und Karl, dir. Toke Constantin Hebbeln, 2006)
Two introverts at a factory attempt to form a lasting relationship.


Saturday – February 18, 2012 – 301 Herter Hall

8:30 – 9:30 a.m.  — Coffee and Muffin Breakfast

9:30 – 11:00 a.m. — Panel I: Sense of Gender – Sense of Race -Intersecting Frameworks of Identity — Victoria Rizo Lenshyn, chair

* “The Sense of Disgust in Contemporary Austrian Literature and Arts: On the Provocation and Validation of Gender”

Anna Baumeister (University of Oregon)

* “Something Like Happy: Self-Objects and Imagos in The Girl Who Fell from the Sky”

Jamele Watkins (University of Massachusetts Amherst)

* “Feelings of Gender Regulations”

Sonny Nordmarken (University of Massachusetts Amherst)

11:00 – 11:15 a.m. — Coffee Break


11:15 a.m. – 12:45 p.m. — Panel II: Voices, Echoes and the Mediated Ear — Evan Torner, chair

* “A Blending of Voices: Visual and Auditory Family Resemblance in Peter Henisch’s Die kleine Figur meines Vaters

Elizabeth Gordon (Ohio State University)

* “Sensing the Senses in German Baroque Poetry”

Sebastian Schulze (Freie Universität Berlin / University of Chicago)

* “A New Art for the Senses: Technology, Perception, and Synesthesia in the Operas of Richard Strauss and Hugo von Hofmannsthal”

Solveig Heinz (University of Michigan)

12:45 – 2:00 p.m. — Lunch Break


2:00 – 3:30 p.m. — Panel III: Sensing Space — Maureen Gallagher, chair

* “The Silence of Time in Carlos Reygadas’ Silent Light

Andrea Phillips (University of Massachusetts Amherst)

* “Viewing Landscapes with Pamuk, Sebald, and a Bit of Black Bile.”

Josh Alvizu (Yale University)

* “Haunting Manhattan’s High Line: Affective Infrastructures & Ecological Ghosts”

Sara J. Grossman (Rutgers University)

3:30 – 4:00 p.m. — Coffee Break


4:00 – 5:30 p.m. — Keynote Lecture: “‘Goethe spricht in den Phonographen:’ Schlüsselkonzepte in den Sound Studies”

Florence Feiereisen (Assistant Professor of German, Middlebury College)


Sunday – February 19, 2012 – 301 Herter Hall

8:30 – 9:30 a.m. — Coffee and Muffin Breakfast

9:30 – 11:00 a.m. — Panel IV: Visceral Corporeality – Bodies and Tongues —  Delene Case White, chair

* “Émile Zola and the Genealogy of a Sense”

Ryan Max Riley (Yale University)

* “Erecting the Law:  Legal and Sexual Fetishism in Thomas Mann’s Das Gesetz

Benjamin Duclos (University of Massachusetts Amherst)

11:00 – 11:15 — Break


11:15 – 12:45 p.m. — Panel V: Making Sense of Today’s Job Market — Victoria Rizo Lenshyn and Evan Torner, chairs

* Brenda Bethman (University of Missouri, Kansas City)

* Sarah Fetterhoff (Wachusett Regional High School)

* Florence Feiereisen (Middlebury College)


12:45 p.m. — Closing Remarks

Guest Biographies:

Florence Feiereisen
received her PhD from the University of Massachusetts in 2007 and is now Assistant Professor of German at Middlebury College in Vermont. She teaches German on all levels–most recently a class titled “Sound and the City: German Urban Cultural History.” Recent publications include a book on the works of Thomas Meinecke and Germany in the Loud Twentieth Century, an edited volume on German Sound Studies, co-edited with Alexandra Hill.

Brenda Bethman is the director of the women’s center at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, where she also holds appointments as Acting Director of the Women’s & Gender Studies Program and as Affiliated Faculty in German in the Department of Foreign Languages & Literatures. Before coming to UMKC, she was founding Program Coordinator of the Women¹s Center and then Director of the Women¹s & Gender Equity Resource Center at Texas A&M University. Brenda is a co-founder and co-editor of Student Affairs Women Talk Tech, a group blog that serves as a forum for women in student affairs with an interest in technology. She has presented and published on social media, assessment, women¹s leadership, women’s literature, Elfriede Jelinek, Marlene Streeruwitz, Ingeborg Bachmann, and feminism in a variety of venues. She holds a B.A. in German Literature from Dickinson College, an M.A. in German Literature from Temple University, and a Ph.D. in Modern German Studies and a Graduate Certificate in Advanced Feminist Studies from UMass Amherst.

Sarah Fetterhoff received her M.A. in German from UMass Amherst and now teaches German at Wachusett Regional High School in Holden, MA.

Conference Organizers:

Victoria Rizo Lenshyn, Evan Torner, Katrin Bahr, Andrea Phillips, Ben Duclos

Panel Chairs: Victoria Rizo Lenshyn, Evan Torner, Maureen Gallagher, Delene Case White

This conference is made possible thanks to the generous support of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the UMass Amherst Graduate School, the Max Kade Foundation, and German and Scandinavian Studies in the Languages, Literatures, Cultures Department at UMass Amherst.

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Call for Papers – Sensing Senses: Interdisciplinary Studies in Sensory Perception

A Graduate Conference Hosted by the German & Scandinavian Studies Program, Languages, Literatures & Cultures Dept.
University of Massachusetts, Amherst
February 17 – 19, 2012

Keynote Speaker: Florence Feiereisen (Middlebury College)

Guest Speaker: Brenda Bethman (University of Missouri, Kansas City)

At the mention of senses, one thinks of five capabilities used to gather data about one’s environment.  This Aristotelian paradigm has dominated Western civilization long enough to establish itself as a truism among many scholars without, as anthropologist David Howe reminds us, “exploring how the senses interact with each other in different combinations and hierarchies.”  Recent research in the social sciences and humanities has revealed an increasingly rhizomatic view of sensual worlds, in that the synaesthetic experience has become the norm: colors in film recall tastes, music conveys a sense of acceleration, the eye is fooled into feeling spaces, and so forth.

But to sense is also to act upon.  Senses inculcate subjectivities, secure or rebel against social realities, and/or produce notoriously unreliable testimony at legal proceedings.  They can be colonized and overloaded, blinded or corrupted, even opened, enticed and remotely enabled.  But above all, they are to be historicized, located in the social context and bodies they inhabit or once inhabited.

The fifth biennial graduate student conference in German & Scandinavian Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst invites interdisciplinary paper submissions on the broad topic of the “senses” with an emphasis on framing sites of perception as historically and culturally specific.  To medieval scholars, one might ask how sensory experience inflected secular and spiritual worlds.  To modern scholars, one could continue this line of thinking in terms of the embodied sensory apparatus of industrial producers and consumers.
To those embarking on digital humanities projects, the relationship between empirical observation and the abstract metrics of the attention economy raises epistemological concerns. All of this work can be placed in dialog with transnational flows as well as asymmetrical power dynamics that have persisted throughout history, and which become the sites of discursive positioning about what can and cannot be sensed.

As “sense” is being seen within a broad context, we welcome paper proposals addressing a variety of themes for an interdisciplinary
discussion of the above questions and more.  The field of interest includes, but is not limited to, the following topics:

–the tension between “sense” as perception / knowledge / meaning
–Sinnlosigkeit, meningslösheten, senselessness
–sensing culture & race
–sense and gender
–social regulation of perception via fashion and architecture
–food studies
–sensory overload
–affect and remote viewing
–functions of marginalized senses such as equilibrioception (balance) or olfacception (smell)
–attention economies past, present and future
–socio-political positioning via thick description
–sound and audioception in other media
–re-evaluations of philosophers such as Hans-Georg Gadamer or Ernst Mach

Please e-mail attached proposals of no more than 300 words along with a short biographical paragraph to by November 28, 2011.

Some travel support may be available.  Participants are encouraged to seek funding for travel within their departments or from outside sources.  Please inform us of your financial situation ahead of time and how we might best accommodate your needs.

Stay tuned here for more detailed information about the conference.

Image: Peter Dranitsin. The Eight Senses

Sponsored by:

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