GSWS Graduate Student Colloquium: Caroline Weist (German, UPENN) and Jennifer Wilson (Slavic, Princeton)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - 8:30am

436 Cohen Hall

Please join us for the Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies (GSWS) Graduate Student Colloquium with presentations from Caroline Weist (German, UPENN) and Jennifer Wilson (Slavic, Princeton).

Caroline Weist (German), "Emblems of the Body: Prosthesis and Corporeal Legibility in From Morning to Midnight"
In his 1912 play From Morning to Midnight, German Expressionist author Georg Kaiser frenetically stages the final twenty-four hours in the life of an embezzling, desperate bank teller, who absconds to the big city with 60,000 Marks to embark on a spectacular, but ill-fated quest for love and happiness.  My paper considers his doomed pursuit of a redeeming union in order to argue that a structuring principle of emblematic tension underlies Kaiser's "Stück in zwei Teilen" ("Piece in two parts") and calls for a specific approach to interpreting the human body that I term "emblematic reading."  Specifically, I focus on a scene in which a prostitute's wooden leg refuses to bud, despite being watered by the teller, thus staging her body's ability to manifest the emblem's enduring and provocative incongruence. By placing this scene in the context of early modern and modernist versions of the emblem (such as Walter Benjamin'sDenkbild, or "thought-image"), I explore the stakes of emblematic reading practices as they are applied to bodies, both onstage and off.  Ultimately, I posit this type of reading as an innovative model for critically thinking the relationship between bodies, their differences, and the body politic that they comprise.

Jennifer Wilson (Princeton - Slavic), "Failed Women: Tolstoy's Spinsters and Queer Theory"  
My presentation is on spinsters in Tolstoy's early novels, Anna Karenina and War and Peace.  Tolstoy's portrayal of spinsters will be explored within the context of larger European and American debates about the place of unmarried women in society.  I will also discuss the importance of these spinsters, or "failed women," in early Feminist history and their relevance to contemporary debates in queer theory regarding failure and unsociability.  
This monthly interdisciplinary colloquium is open to graduate students working on all things women, gender, queer and sexuality studies, and it offers an opportunity to workshop parts of chapters, articles, essays, or to practice conference papers and presentations. Please join us and participate in the discussion!


Please email Emily Gerstell if you would like to attend the seminar and to reserve a lunch!