Titled “Back to the Future: Tradition and Innovation in German Studies,” the 50th Wisconsin Workshop is planned as a celebratory event to honor two senior emeriti of our German program, Prof. Jost Hermand, who founded the Workshop in 1969, and Prof. Klaus Berghahn, who created our DAAD Center for German and European Studies in 1998, now in its twentieth year. The conference themes and their published proceedings have been at the forefront of research in the area of interdisciplinary German cultural history for the past fifty years. This is a legacy we hope to explore in this 50th Workshop.
The 50th Workshop is aimed at being retrospective as well as prospective. In showcasing the rich history of a Wisconsin tradition that is known worldwide for its cutting-edge agenda, we have made special attempts to invite many young and mid-career scholars who are defining and transforming the terms of debate in the field. The conference program is interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary. Along with scholars of literary and cultural studies, invited speakers include a historian, a philosopher, and a political scientist. Together our speakers cover multiple points of intervention—through media such as film, photography, theater, and literature but also themes such as environmentalism, migration, populism, solidarity, utopia, among others. At the same time, we wish to recognize the work of the giants on whose shoulders we stand, specifically the contributions of Hermand and Berghahn. In order to define some of the connections between the traditions they have established and the future visions we share, all presenters have been asked to reference past workshops that addressed their themes.
A star feature of our quest for tradition and innovation is the alumni event on the opening night. We have extended invitations to over 120 graduate alumni of the German Department at UW-Madison. These include former dissertators of Professors Hermand and Berghahn, who have, since graduating, become leading voices in the field of German Studies, and/or have achieved success in careers outside the academy. We see this Workshop as a great chance to celebrate the history of UW-Madison, of the German Department, and the continuous process of sifting and winnowing, of public engagement with scholarship, that has marked the work of the founders of the Wisconsin Workshop as well as their students.
Sponsored by CGES and the Department of German