Sunday, February 20, 2022

CfP: Reflections on (Literary) Solitude -German Literature Archive Marbach- Nov-2022

The postgraduates and ECRs of the German Schiller Assocation (DSG) invite you to an interdisciplinary conference at the German Literature Archive (DLA)

Organisers: Dîlan C. Çakir, Martin Kuhn, Felix Lempp, Nadine Redmer, Merisa Taranis, Viola Völlm, Dominik Wabersich

Scholarly Networks and Solitude

Sometimes it is voluntary and other times, as in lockdown, it is imposed. Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, the impact of solitude was recognised as a serious issue for literary and scholarly writing, as well as reading. How to handle solitude, but also the need for solitude, is different for every form of reading and writing, and in Literature Studies the ambivalence of solitude raises questions that go well beyond the contexts of literary production. While working alone at a desk may be regarded as disciplined, for early career researchers, interaction and exchange with a network is also essential. There are in fact numerous arguments for the establishment of a network of young researchers, whose members come together and work to strengthen the interaction between postgraduates and ECRs, irrespective of their institutional affiliation.

In order to address this need, as postgraduates and ECRs, our aim is to organise an annual conference with the support of the German Schiller Association (DSG) and the German Literature Archive Marbach (DLA). In addition to the opportunity to present their research, this will allow ECRs to get acquainted with the DLA and its museums and to discuss issues affecting ECRs outside the immediate field of their research.

While the network aims to invite scholarly dialogue, it also aims to facilitate opportunities for free and informal exchange between participants and experts about career paths and the challenges in obtaining qualifications and in the post-qualification period. In addition to this, skills workshops will be offered. The first conference of this kind will take place 3-4 November 2022, and will be dedicated to the broad theme of reflections on solitude:

1. Research papers reflecting on solitude (interdisciplinary)
2. A workshop on ECRs and mental health
3. Tour of the archive and the museums in Marbach
4. Evening event

For (1.) abstracts reflectingon the issue of solitude accompanied by a short CV of the applicant are highly welcome. Note it is still possible to attend the conference without giving a research paper.

You do not have to be a member of the German Schiller Association or a Schiller researcher in order to submit an abstract. External submissions are welcome!
● Presentations can be given in German or in English.
● The deadline for submissions is March 31, 2022.
● Please submit abstracts using this portal.
● For further inquiries and registration (for attendees not giving a paper), please email:
● The conference is planned to take place in-person.

Submissions should consider the following:

Literature and Solitude

Solitude is an ambiguous phenomenon: while it is understood on the one hand as exclusion from a society, isolation, or social anxiety, on the other hand, positive conceptions of solitude emphasise the individual sense of freedom and autonomy, and the creative energy that is released by it. Conceptions of solitude are linked here to aspects of mental and physical health, and to conceptions of happiness.

While nowadays search engine results for the term ‘Solitude’ principally name publications concerning the pandemic, the conference intends to address reflections on solitude in literature, philosophy and art in the current context of Covid-19 but as well beyond the latter. What are the prevailing forms and characteristics of solitude in different places and times? How are they individually experienced and shaped by literature? Who seeks solitude and who avoids it? What duties and freedoms does an individual have in a society that may support or condemn isolation? Is solitude a means of stimulating creativity and self-reflection or an elite privilege involving an egoistic and antisocial mind-set? What is its relationship with the related concepts of boredom and loneliness? When is sociability preferable to solitude? Is there an ‘Aesthetics of Solitude? Are there any trends that can be demonstrated through increased use of specific motifs or narrative patterns? Who writes about solitude? To what extent are literary production and literary reception solitary tasks, or forms of ‘interaction-free communication’ (Luhmann)? In an era of globalisation and digitisation, how are research findings in the fields of sociology and psychopathology on the subject of solitude expressed in literature? Is solitude gendered? To what extent is solitude defined as a place of longing?

Due to its ambiguity, the concept is also relevant to the field of literature: reflections on solitude and literature can relate to the thematic level or indeed to those of reception or aesthetics and production. Thus neither the act of reading, nor literary production, have been construed as a solitary activity since the birth of the modern era.

Even in the eighteenth century, the literature of the Enlightenment considered this problem: In Rêveries du promeneur solitaire (1782), for example, Jean-Jacques Rousseau calls for a conscious retreat into solitude for the purpose of self-reflection. Sophie von La Roche began her major work, Geschichte des Fräuleins von Sternheim (1771), in reaction to her solitude and boredom. Besides Christian Grave and Joseph von Sonnenfels, the popular philosopher Johann Georg Zimmermann also devoted himself in several texts in the eighteenth century to the question of solitude, in which he also opposed lone contemplation with the human ‘drive to socialise’. Contemplation and creativity in solitude and the longing for recognition and security in society also defined the field for literary reflections on solitude in subsequent centuries. Romantic loners, such as Ludwig Tiecks Christian, sought a path between social integration via marriage and isolated hiking on the Runenberg (1804). In his Letters to a Young Poet (1929), Rainer Maria Rilke advised the young author Franz Xaver Kappus to utilise the severity of solitude for his writing, and Stefan Zweig demonstrated in his work The Royal Game (1944) what the psychopathological consequences of imposed solitude can be with the character of Dr B. In exile, authors seek support in solitude and make efforts to form networks – for example, Hilde Domin repeatedly urged her friend, Nelly Sachs, to support her career. In contemporary post-migration texts like Deniz Ohdes’ Streulicht (2020) or Sasha Mariana Salzmann’s stage work Us Braids (2014), the solitude of the protagonist can often be interpreted as a mode of being, which stages their condition in the space between their homeland of their (grand)parents’ generation and their own country of birth. In Marius Goldhorn’s Park (2020) however, solitude seems to the narrator to be a postmodern feeling of loneliness, meaning that, despite the networking effects of globalisation and digitisation, he seems only to perceive the world passively.

This brief overview being neither exhaustive nor prescriptive illustrates how, again and again, literature, the literary scene, and Literature Studies prove the multifaceted uses of the motif of solitude. On the one hand, solitude is cast as a requirement for inventive creativity, a means of exploring belief and the soul, and a mode of deepening engagement with nature and self-knowledge. On the other hand, it is also viewed as the result of societal alienation, a lifestyle of melancholy, and the result of discrimination and exclusion.

More information about the work of the German Schiller Association can be found here:

Contact Info: 

Alexa Hennemann, Head of Communication Department, German Literature Archive Marbach (Deutsches Literaturarchiv Marbach - DLA)

Department of Research, German Literature Archive Marbach (Deutsches Literaturarchiv Marbach - DLA):
Telefon +49 (0) 7144 / 848-175
Telefax +49 (0) 7144 / 848-179

Contact Email: