This coming Fall, November 3-5, 2017, we will be gathering together for the next Atkins Goethe Conference on the campus of Penn State University. Established with an endowment from Mr. Stuart Atkins to honor his parents Lillian and Stuart P. Atkins, this year’s international Atkins conference again hopes to attract a wide range of Goethe scholars from all over the world to present their newest research on German culture across the period of Johann Wolfgang Goethe’s life, 1749-1832.
Re-Orientations around Goethe, the topic for this Atkins Conference, encourages us to revive the vital questions that so dramatically transformed life around 1800 by demonstrating how they still matter in our own era. We have the opportunity to confirm that the principles of the Enlightenment have not been superseded in the global world, that the realization of true freedom requires us to cultivate the entire person not just a single skill, that the experience of nature can still transform our lives. Goethe’s writing and the work of his contemporaries remind us that the beauty of poetry and philosophy outlasts the political maneuvers of courtiers and adventurers. At the same time, Re-Orientations around Goethe provides us with the occasion to explore the long history of our own era by discovering that many contemporary debates about the environment, media, scientific knowledge, global politics, gender, and sexuality also had their place in the eighteenth century.
Heidi Schlipphacke, John Smith, and I will organize the papers into panels by the end of May so that everyone has ample time over the summer.
The Goethe Society has just recently allocated funds to reimburse travel costs for select graduate students, non-tenure track scholars, and foreign academics who present a paper at the conference. This is a new program, so please let your students and colleagues know that they can request such support when they send in their proposals by including a travel budget.
In addition to panels of academic papers on Friday and Saturday, we will also hold a dissertation workshop, organized by the Goethe Society’s Vice President, Catriona MacLeod. This workshop has been very successful over the past conferences as it has provided students with supportive peer responses, while introducing new colleagues to the Society. Please let your students know that their chapter proposals are welcome.
Along with the panels of Society members, two familiar and renowned Goethezeit scholars from Germany will provide keynote addresses. We are very pleased that Helmut Schneider, Professor emeritus from the Universität Bonn, and Eva Geulen, director of the Zentrum für Literatur- und Kulturforschung and Professor at the Humboldt-Universität in Berlin, will speak to us.
Fall is a beautiful time in Central Pennsylvania. The Penn State campus is easily accessible by automobile, bus, and air travel. The local University Park airport (SCE) is ten minutes from the university and it provides connections to major hubs in the Northeast. Rooms have been set aside at the Nittany Lion Inn on campus, and other arrangements are being made as you read this. We can’t wait to see you in November.
Pennsylvania State University