Kafka?! An Interdisciplinary Conference In Honor of Walter Sokel (1917-2014)



 An Interdisciplinary Conference In Honor of Walter Sokel (1917-2014)

 University of Virginia, February 25-27, 2015

Program of Events:


  • Wednesday, February 25:

6:00 PM, New Cabell Hall 236

Film Screening The Trial (Orson Welles, 1962)

Introductory Remarks: Jennifer Hansen-Glucklich, Mary Washington University

  • Thursday, February 26, 2015

2:30-3:30 PM, Pavilion IV, by invitation only

UVa Students in Conversation with the Austrian Ambassador, His Excellency Hans-Peter Manz

4:00 PM, Harrison Auditorium, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library

 Welcome: Asher Biemann, Director, Center for German Studies, University of Virginia

 Introduction: Larry J. Sabato, Director, Center for Politics, University of Virginia

 Lecture by His Excellency Hans-Peter Manz, Ambassador of Austria to the United States

6:00 PM, Harrison Auditorium, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library

Welcome: Ian Baucom, Dean of Arts and Sciences, Buckner W. Clay Professor, University of Virginia

 Jennifer Geddes, University of Virginia: A Tribute to Walter Sokel (1917 – 2014)

 Hans H. Hiebel, Karl-Franzens University, Graz: Franz Kafka’s “A Country Doctor”: A New Interpretation and Analysis

Followed by Reception

8:00: PM, Garden Room, by invitation only

Dinner for conference participants and guests

  • Friday, February 27, 2015:

Conference: Nau Hall 342, South Lawn

9:00 AM                    Breakfast (Foyer of Nau Hall 342)

10:00 AM – NOON    Panel One

Moderator: Jeffrey Grossman, University of Virginia

 Elizabeth Rajec, President, The Kafka Society of America: Odradek, Schubal & Co – Slavic Elements in Kafka’s Name Giving.

Brigitte Pawlitschek, Karl-Franzens University, Graz: Kafka’s Staff: Functions of Names and Professions

Robert Rehak: Names in Hebrew

12:00-1:30 PM          Lunch Break, Lunch for Panelists (Foyer of Nau Hall 342)

1:30 – 3:30 PM         Panel Two

Moderator: Lorna Martens, University of Virginia

 Gerhard Rieck, Author, Vienna: Always the same? New Angles on Kafka’s Narratives

Jennifer Geddes, University of Virginia: Interpreting Kafka and the Ethics of Naming

Volker Kaiser, University of Virginia: Kafka’s Epitaph. Reading the Short Story “Ein Traum.”

4:00 PM                     Concluding Reception, Nau Hall 3rd Floor Darden Lounge

Conference Participants:

Ian Baucom is the Buckner W. Clay Dean of Arts and Sciences the University of Virginia. He is the author of Out of Place: Englishness, Empire and the Locations of Identity (1999, Princeton University Press), Specters of the Atlantic: Finance Capital, Slavery, and the Philosophy of History (2005, Duke University Press), and co-editor of Shades of Black: Assembling Black Arts in 1980s Britain (2005, Duke University Press). He has edited special issues of the South Atlantic Quarterly on Atlantic Studies and Romanticism, and is currently working on a new book project tentatively entitled The Disasters of War: On Inimical Life.

Asher D. Biemann is Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia, where he teaches modern Jewish thought and intellectual history. He is the author of a critical edition of Martin Buber’s Sprachphilosophische Schriften (2003), The Martin Buber Reader (2001), as well as of Inventing New Beginnings: On the Idea of Renaissance in Modern Judaism (2009) and Dreaming of Michelangelo: Jewish Variations on a Modern Theme (2012), both of which appeared with Stanford University Press.

Jennifer Geddes, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia, is the author of numerous essays and book chapters on evil, suffering, the Holocaust, and twentieth-century literature and testimony, and the editor of Evil after Postmodernism: Histories, Narratives, Ethics and co-editor of Ethics after the Holocaust: Salvaging the Fragments. She was the founding Editor of The Hedgehog Review: Critical Reflections on Contemporary Culture and has recently completed Kafka’s Ethics of Interpretation: Between Tyranny and Despair.

Jeffrey A. Grossman is Associate Professor of German at the University of Virginia where he also teaches in the programs in Jewish Studies and Comparative Literature.  The author of The Discourse on Yiddish in Germany: From the Enlightenment to the Second Empire (Camden House, 2000), he has written extensively on German Jewish culture, translation and the transmission of knowledge about culture, literature, and ideas. His article  “Émigré Intellectuals, Memory and the View of Kafka as Prophet of the Holocaust,“ appeared in the Journal of the Kafka Society of America where he serves on the editorial staff. A new theoretical article, “The Yiddish-German Connection: New Directions,” is forthcoming in Poetics Today. He is currently writing a book on the translation and rewriting of Heinrich Heine in Yiddish, English, and German.

Jennifer Hansen-Glucklich teaches German language and literature at the University of Mary Washington. Her special expertise includes Holocaust studies and German film, and her articles have appeared in the Journal of Modern Jewish Studies, in Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies, and in Nexus: Essays in German Jewish Studies. She is the author of Holocaust Memory Reframed: Museums and the Challenges of Representation (Rutgers University Press, 2014) and is currently working on a monograph, Irgendwo Dazwischen: German-Jews, Yekkes, and the Fifth Aliyah.

Hans H. Hiebel, born 1941 in the Czech Republic. Studies in Erlangen, Germany, and Brighton, Great Britain. 1985 professor of German literature at Karl-Franzens University, Graz, Austria. Professor emeritus in 2009. Research focus Franz Kafka and modern German poetry. Numerous publications on 18th, 19th and 20th century literature, including Die Zeichen des Gesetzes : Recht und Macht bei Franz Kafka (1983) and Franz Kafka: Form und Bedeutung: Formanalysen und Interpretationen (1999). Translation of Michel Dentan’s Humour et création littéraire dans l’œuvre de Kafka.

Volker Kaiser is Associate Professor of German at the University of Virginia, where he also served for many years as chair of the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures. He studied at the University of Bonn and received his PhD from Johns Hopkins University. He is the author of many articles from Kant to Rorty, to Kleist, to Marx, to Heine, Goethe and Wim Wenders, as well as of two books, Das Echo jeder Verschattung: Figur und Reflexion bei Rilke, Benn und Celan (Passagen Verlag 1993), and Risus Mortis. Strange Angels. Zur Lektüre “Vom armen B.B.”—Eine Studie zu Brecht und Benjamin (2001).

Lorna Martens is Professor of German and Comparative Literature at the University of Virginia.  She is the author of The Diary Novel (1985); Shadow Lines: Austrian Literature from Freud to Kafka (1996); The Promised Land? Feminist Writings in the German Democratic Republic (2001), and The Promise of Memory:  Childhood Recollection and its Objects in Literary Modernism (2011). She has published on authors including Butor, Doris Lessing, Freud, Musil, Kafka, Rilke, Hofmannsthal, Schnitzler, Valéry, Proust, and Benjamin, and on topics such as memory, autobiography, poetic style, narrative theory and technique, psychoanalysis, and aesthetics.   She has taught many courses on or involving Kafka, most recently the Comparative Literature course “Kafka and his Doubles,” in Fall 2014, to an inspiring group of undergraduates.

Brigitte Pawlitschek, born 1966 in Graz. Studied German and English literature at Karl-Franzens University, Graz. MA thesis on autobiographical elements in “The Castle”. Currently completing her dissertation on “Kafka’s staff – functions of names and professions in Kafka’s narratives.” CEO of a PR-agency specialized in future technologies.

Elizabeth Molnar Rajec, professor emerita, university librarian, elected president of The Kafka Society of America, Fulbright scholar and recipient of several IREX grants. Former board member of the American Name Society, member of American PEN. Received university degrees from Columbia University New York BS, Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, MLS and her PhD from City University of New York. The title of her published dissertation is Namen und ihre Bedeutungen im Werke Franz Kafkas. Published extensively on Kafka, on literary onomastics, on subject bibliographies and on works by Ferenc Molnar. An expert on kaleidoscopic photomontage technique with numerous domestic and international exhibitions.

Gerhard Rieck, born 1947 in Vienna, Austria. Graduated in electrical engineering, followed by a career in telecommunications. Head of library in one of Austria’s major enterprises. Intensive self-studies of Kafka’s life and work. A career changer by passion, he is one of very few Kafka-researchers to undertake a practical and hands-on approach. Author of Kafka konkret – das Trauma ein Leben. Wiederholungsmotive im Werk als Grundlage einer psychologischen Deutung (1999), Franz Kafka und die Literaturwissenschaft. Aufsätze zu einem kafkaesken Verhältnis (2002), and Kafkas Rätsel. Fragen und Antworten zu Leben, Werk und Interpretation (2014).

Dr. Larry J. Sabato is the founder and director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics. He is also the University Professor of Politics at the University of Virginia, and has had visiting appointments at Oxford University and Cambridge University in Great Britain. A Rhodes Scholar, he received his doctorate from Oxford, and he is the author or editor of two dozen books on American politics.

Sponsored by the Austrian Embassy, Washington, DC; The Embassy of the Czech Republic, Washington, DC; The Center for German Studies, University of Virginia; the Department of Germanic Languages & Literatures, University of Virginia; the Jewish Studies Program, University of Virginia; the Center for Politics, University of Virginia; the Kafka Society of America.

For more information, contact Asher Biemann, Director, Center for German Studies, ab5j@virginia.edu; (434) 924-3643; or visit http://cgs.virginia.edu/