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Two Elias conferences: Calls for Papers

Posted on by Stephen Mennell

Two important Elias-related conferences are planned for the autumn of 2007, one in Marbach/Neckar to celebrate the completion of the publication of the Elias Gesammelte Schriften by Suhrkamp, and the other in Frankfurt to explore the relevance of Elias’s work to the whole field of American Studies. Details are given below. Please send offers of papers to the organisers, as specified.

Stephen Mennell

Conference to mark the completion of the Norbert Elias Gesammelte Schriften Deutsche Literaturarchiv, Marbach an der Neckar, Germany
To mark the completion publication by Suhrkamp of Elias’s collected works in German, a conference will be held on 14-15 September 2007 at the Deutsche Literaturarchiv in Marbach, where his papers are now housed.

It is planned that on the Friday afternoon two distinguished speakers will respond to the closing pages of Über den Prozess der Zivilisation, showing their contemporary relevance to a globalising world more than half a century after they were written. That evening, it is hoped that it will be possible to present a love performance of Elias’s Der Ballade vom Armen Jakob.

Call for papers:

On the Saturday, no more than eight younger scholars will be invited to address the conference. If you would like to be one of those who give papers, please inform the Elias Foundation (giving your name and topic) at by 31 March 2007. The Foundation will meet the costs of speakers’ travel to and accommodation in Marbach.

Civilising and Decivilising Processes: A Figurational Approach to American Studies
Johann Wolfgang Goethe Universität Frankfurt, 22-24 November, 2007
Call for Papers
‘Civilising processes,’ ‘habitus,’ ‘outsider,’ and ‘figuration’ are key concepts from a body of cultural theories hardly known in American Studies on either side of the Atlantic. They refer to an examination of human figurations in history, a socio-historical approach as practiced by Norbert Elias, Pierre Bourdieu, and more recently, Loïc Wacquant. We invite scholars in the fields of American Studies, Literature, Sociology, History or Political Science interested in applying an approach based on figurational sociology to phenomena in the US. Possible contributions may address, but are not limited to, the following topics and questions:

The Formation of the State and of Individuals
The formation of the American state as conquering territory, nature, and people lasted well into the nineteenth century, when these processes had largely come to an end in Europe. This may be used to reformulate Crèvecour’ s famous question, ‘What, then, is an American?’: What, then, is the specific relation of state formation and habitus in America? Contributions
may look at the development of manners, at the role of sports, at concepts such as wilderness or frontier with their particular relation to violence, or at figurations such as established and outsiders.

Challenges to the Civilising Process
In the eyes of contemporaries – in the eighteenth as well as in the twenty-first century – slavery and torture, war and displacement were recognised and deplored as threats to a civilised and democratic way of life while they were also tacitly accepted as inevitable aspects of securing the achievements of the American Revolution. While all nations face challenges
to civilising processes, there is a particular awareness of the tensions between the ideal self-image as a beacon of civilisation and democracy and the realities of violent conflicts in the U.S. that has characterised its intellectual discourse in a marked way. We invite papers on or within this tradition.

Civilising Projects? Religion, Literature, and the Arts
Religion, literature, and the arts have long been seen as civilising projects – a view that persists in hopes to find sites of subversion and resistance at least in the latter two. What is the relation of these fields to larger social, political, and economic processes? Contributions might examine interrelations between these fields, the attitude towards violence in them, economic and legal questions such as patronage or copyright, theformation of a specifically American religious field, the role of ‘schools’ or single powerful figures within figurations.

Please indicate your general interest as soon as possible, and send a one-page proposal by the end of January 2007 to and/or

Norbert Elias Foundation
J.J. Viottastraat 13
1071 JM Amsterdam
The Netherlands

Johan Goudsblom, Hermann Korte
Stephen Mennell
Secretary to the Foundation:
Saskia Visser

Tel. & Fax: +31?20?671 8620