CFP: Lessons & Legacies 2024: “Languages of the Holocaust”

Deadline: December 4, 2023

Call for Papers

Lessons & Legacies 2024:”Languages of the Holocaust”

14 – 17 November 2024 Claremont and Los Angeles, California 

Submission Deadline: 4 December 2023

The Seventeenth Biennial Lessons and Legacies Conference, sponsored by the Holocaust Educational Foundation of Northwestern University, and hosted by Claremont McKenna College and the University of Southern California, invites proposals for papers, panels, workshops, and seminars. This conference will focus on languages of the Holocaust and its history, representation, and memory. We aim to bring together scholars working in different languages, disciplines, discourses, and methodologies for intellectual exchange.

We encourage proposals that interpret the theme “languages of the Holocaust” from a wide range of vantagepoints and disciplines. The conference theme refers both to the specific languages in which people have spoken and written—during and about—the Holocaust, as well as the ways in which the Holocaust has been represented in a wide range of discourses (documentary, archival, testimonial, judicial, academic, artistic, non-verbal, photographic). We are interested in proposals that explore different phases of the vast and ever-expanding range of postwar discourses by survivors and their descendants, scholars, artists, filmmakers, journalists, and so forth. Further, we invite proposals that take up issues of translation in both its literal and figurative meanings in the field of Holocaust Studies.

Questions of interest include: What role did linguistic strategies—and strategic silences—play in extending Nazism’s reach and in the perpetration of the Holocaust? What cultural, social, and political tensions or hierarchies emerged between different linguistic and cultural communities in the ghettos and camps? During the Holocaust ,what strategies did Jewish writers and activists adopt to try to keep sensitive topics and projects illegible to potential Nazi observers/readers? How do the conceptual paradigms—and the literal languages—of wartime documents differ from those of postwar written and oral memoir and testimony?

How have paradigms and presuppositions in the history of the Holocaust, the study of Holocaust testimony, literature and film, and/or ethical reflections on the Holocaust and its legacy been shaped by the inclusion or exclusion of documents or whole archives in certain languages? How have political and ideological languages, particularly of the Cold War and of Zionism, highlighted, manipulated, or suppressed events and documents of the Holocaust? What is the role of translation in mediating, shaping, popularizing, flattening, or obscuring our understanding of the Holocaust? Do artifacts of visual culture transcend linguistic boundaries, or relate to specific language traditions in specific ways? Does silence relate to all languages identically, or to specific languages in particular ways (does silence have an accent)? How might the discourses of history and the languages of memory and memorialization differ across nations, disciplines, and a group’s situatedness in relation to the Holocaust?

The above questions are meant to suggest and facilitate, but not to limit, possibilities for reflection and exchange. We invite proposals on any aspect of the Holocaust, in addition to those focused on the conference theme. Because we want to encourage exploration of new ways of approaching the Holocaust, we ask that proposals focus on research that the scholar has not presented at a previous Lessons and Legacies conference.

Submission Deadline: 4 December 2023

Conference sessions include several formats, as outlined below.

Submissions should clearly indicate one of these formats.

Conference Panels will consist of three or four papers and a moderator. Conference chairs will consider individual proposals and organize them as panels, as well as proposals for full panels. Paper proposals should include a title and abstract (up to 300 words) and a short (1–2 pages) CV. Proposals for full panels should include a panel title and brief description of the full session (up to 300 words), in addition to a paper proposal and CV for each presenter. We welcome the trend toward increasingly collaborative work and are happy to acknowledge co-authors, but for logistical issues of hotel space, presentation time, and limited financial assistance for presenters, we ask that only one person submit a proposal and, if accepted, present a paper.

Workshops consisting of one or two presenters should focus on particular questions, approaches, or sources. Workshops are intended to be interactive and practical, highlighting, for example, a new pedagogical approach or research question or method, curricular innovations, or creative ways to examine and interpret artifacts or texts both in research and the classroom. Conference organizers will prioritize proposals centered on participation and discussion.

Seminars bring together a diverse group of scholars at various career levels for three meetings over the course of the conference, for sustained discussion of a question or problem. Participants will access a common syllabus of readings and position papers before the conference. Only those registered for the seminar will have access to the papers; online access will be removed immediately after the conference. If you are interested in proposing a seminar, submit an abstract (up to 350 words) that describes a compelling case for why this particular issue should be explored. Once a seminar is accepted, conference organizers will issue a call for applications to participate in seminars (9–12 papers accepted).

Participants will be determined by the seminar organizer in consultation with a conference co-chair. Seminar papers must be available to post by 1 September 2024. On the conference program, seminars can be designated as open or closed to auditors, at the decision of the seminar organizer. We encourage open seminars but appreciate that in certain cases there can be good rationales for keeping a seminar closed to non-participants.

To the extent possible, financial assistance for conference presenters will be provided. Priority is given to scholars who would otherwise not be able to attend: graduate students, independent scholars, faculty at teaching-oriented colleges not offering research support, and scholars living outside the United States with unusually high travel costs. Instructions for funding applications will be posted once the conference program is finalized.

Conference Co-Chairs:

Jennifer Geddes (University of Virginia) and Sven-Erik Rose (University of California, Davis)

Conference Co-Hosts:

Wolf Gruner (University of Southern California) and Wendy Lower (Claremont-McKenna College)

Workshop and Seminar Coordinator:

Anna Veprinska (Cape Breton University)

All proposals must be submitted online via the Lessons & Legacies Oxford Abstracts portal. The submission portal will open in Summer 2023.

Check the HEFNU website for updates.

Questions regarding registration and submission can be addressed to

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