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Violence, exile to be topics of literature conferences at Illinois

Andrea Lynn, Humanities Editor


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is hosting two literature conferences in mid-October, one focused on violence, the other on exile.

Both conferences are free and open to the public.

Scholars of German culture will gather at Illinois Oct. 14-16 (Friday through Sunday) for a conference titled “Violence in German Literature, Culture and Intellectual History, 1789-1938.”

Sessions for the German literature conference will be held in the Levis Faculty Center, 919 W. Illinois St., and in the Lucy Ellis Lounge, Foreign Languages Building, 707 S. Mathews Ave., both in Urbana.

Conference panel discussions are organized around historical perspectives. Presenters will consider literary texts, films and other art forms as case studies and attempt to reconstruct the historical contexts of violence, said Carl Niekerk, professor of Germanic languages and literatures at Illinois and the conference organizer.

“Not unlike ‘nationalism,’ ‘violence’ is a concept that’s always present, but escapes clear theoretical definition,” Niekirk said.

According to Niekerk, the papers presented at the conference will contribute to “a comprehensive intellectual history of thinking about violence in German-speaking countries during this timeframe.”

Jacob Burckhardt, Heinrich Heine and Franz Kafka are among the writers to be considered by Stephen Jaeger, Germanic languages and literature, U. of I.; Jeff Grossman, Germanic languages and literature; University of Virginia; and Mark Thompson, English, U. of I.

The German conference is sponsored by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Mellon Foundation, the department of Germanic languages and literatures, the Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory, the German Academic Exchange Service,
the Foreign Languages Building Fund, the Program in Comparative and World Literature and the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities.

For more information contact Niekerk at

At the second conference, classicists from all over the country will convene to debate “The Oedipus Myth and Its Interpretation” Oct 15-16 (Saturday and Sunday) in the Illini Union, 1401 W. Green St., Urbana.

The Oedipus conference is being held in conjunction with the U. of I. Sinfonia da Camara’s North American premiere performance of “Oedipe,” an opera by Georges Enescu, Oct. 15 in the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts.

Speakers from beyond Illinois include Jeffrey Buller, dean, Mary Baldwin College; Lowell Edmunds, classics, Rutgers University; Jeffrey Mehlman, French literature, Boston University; and Andrei Serban, Romanian opera producer and director.

U. of I. presenters include David Sansone, classics; Jon Solomon, classics and the Robert D. Novak Chair in Liberal Arts and Sciences; and Sever Tipei, a music professor, composer and manager of the Computer Music Project of the Experimental Music Studios.

Sponsors of the conference include the Center for Advanced Study, the Russian and East European Center and the departments of the classics and of French. For more information, contact Sherban Lupu, professor of violin in the School of Music, or Sansone,