Eco-Humanities Research Group - Rewilding German Studies Event

Rewilding German Studies: Disciplinary Practice and the Web of Life

An in-person day of dialogue and reflection

Royal Irish Academy, Dublin, 26 January 2024

Hanna Bingel-Jones (University College Cork), Caitríona Ní Dhúill (University of Salzburg), Tina-Karen Pusse (University of Galway) (organisers)

What sense does it make to speak of ‘rewilding’ a discipline that was never wild to begin with? The modern philological disciplines can be understood as products of the industrial age, and as such enmeshed with fossil-fuel culture across all their modes of production, dissemination and practice (including the production of the subjectivities of their practitioners). What spaces can be found within German Studies today to reflect on, resist and begin to remake disciplinary practice in light of the multiple ecological crises and predicaments of our time? What distinctive perspectives do German Studies bring to the urgent task of undoing ecocidal cultural and political-economic commitments to infinite ‘growth’, runaway consumption and habitat destruction (including the destruction of human habitats through monocultural models of development)? How can the growing openness in contemporary German Studies towards questions of gender, migration and minority identities offer critical insight into the unevenly distributed causes and impacts of ecological crisis? To what extent can the unfinishable reckoning with historical catastrophe and trauma, and with the question of ‘Schuld’ (see B. Lewis Robinson and J. Prade-Weiss 2021), contribute to an unflinching confrontation with ecocide? How do the perspectives and resources of German Studies help to foster ecological awareness and eco-centric orientation in students and scholars alike?

We approach these questions as German Studies scholars who view the university as an unrealised site of deep-reaching societal and personal transformation towards more liveable relationships with human and non-human others within the damaged, increasingly fragile web of life (see D. Rousell 2016). While indebted to the by now prolific dialogue between German Studies, ecocriticism, the environmental humanities and Anthropocene theory, we seek to move beyond established paradigms of academic productivity towards more ecologically reflexive modes of working, reading, thinking and teaching (see B. Jickling et al. 2018). We welcome contributions on:

  • Rewilding pedagogy in German Studies: empowering students’ orientation towards the biosphere through innovative teaching practices (e.g. engagement with space, place, community and region, post-anthropocentric pedagogies, embodiment-friendly practices, critical approaches to default digitization)
  • Reading, thinking and teaching German Studies with interspecies, eco-feminist / queer ecological, energy humanities and related approaches such as feral theory
  • Reading as ‘retrofitting’: ecologically reflexive approaches to – and from – literary and theoretical texts in German from earlier periods
  • Post-fossil philology: Decarbonizing our disciplinary practices as German Studies scholars, e.g. through slow scholarship, critiques of hyper-productivity and hyper-mobility, de-normalization of ecologically damaging norms within academia
  • German Studies and eco-activist scholarship: case studies and new directions

If you would like to participate, please send a max. 450-word statement outlining a) the relevance of your research and teaching to the call and b) the idea, proposal or case study you would like to bring to the dialogue day. Please send this by email to by 15 August 2023. Following the dialogue day, participants will have the opportunity to submit an abstract for a specially commissioned number of the peer-reviewed journal German Life and Letters, to be guest edited by the organisers.

This is an in-person only, screen-free event. While the project budget can cover accommodation and catering, participants will be asked to seek alternative sources of funding for any travel costs, and to bear in mind the ecological impact of their travel arrangements. Confirmed participants will be invited to attend a short online pre-briefing in December 2023 (date tbc).

Hanna Bingel-Jones, Caitríona Ní Dhúill, Tina-Karen Pusse

22 May 2023