Call for applications: Configurations of Mobility: Transition – Transformation – Transgression

30 scholarships for advanced MA students and early career researchers (Ph.D. candidates, Postdocs)

Würzburg Winter School
Configurations of Mobility: Transition – Transformation – Transgression
24–28 February 2020

Mobility has become an interdisciplinary paradigm in academic research since the last turn of the century. In German-speaking contexts, the study of mobility has mainly been focused on global migration, spatial movements and the infrastructural, political, and juridical conditions defining human movements.

The Würzburg Winter School Configurations of Mobility: Transition – Transformation – Transgression extends these perspectives with approaches from social geography, narratology and the emergent fields of cultural animal studies and multispecies ethnography. At the same time, the question of how storytelling as a form of cultural practice and artistic expression serves to configure our understanding of mobility is posed as a common point of departure for a comparative, interdisciplinary engagement with mobility. This innovative combination promises two insights: firstly, it allows the re-estimation of how forms of human, animal, and object mobility may interrelate and an inquiry into how storytelling may influence these relationships. Secondly, it makes the exploration of the aesthetic, spatial and temporal dimensions of human and nonhuman mobility possible and connects them to how narratives represent, reflect and modify what is known as mobility. The goal is to fathom the transitional, transformative and transgressive quality of narrative configurations of mobility.

Faculty of Philosophy, Julius-Maximilians-University Würzburg Funded by the Volkswagen Foundation
The Würzburg Winter School offers early career researchers working on projects related to mobility and migration the unique opportunity to develop new perspectives in a transdisciplinary theoretical setting. The focus of the Winter School will be on the organisation and formation of movements and the subsequent changes through and in narrative (configurations). Stories enable crucial insights into eminent features of mobility as they mediate and give shape to movements, infrastructures of movements and motility of human and nonhuman actors and have, thus, become an important research object in the Humanities. We, therefore, aim to investigate (1) how spatial movements of bodies (humans, animals, things) become intelligible, (2) how social, technical and infrastructural arrangements enable these movements and (3) how these arrangements, in turn, are connected to the actors’ opportunities and options for action.

German is the working language in the seminars, the keynotes are delivered in English. The Würzburg Winter School engages with configurations of mobility in various formats: keynotes (Prof. Peter Adey, London; Somayeh Dodge, Ph.D., Santa Barbara; Prof. Dr Birgit Neumann, Düsseldorf), art scenes (Dr Susanne Schmitt, Munich), a public literary reading, a film screening, project poster presentations, theory seminars and thematically specific workshops. We invite advanced MA students and interested Ph.D. candidates and postdocs from Germany, Europe and outside Europe to apply for one of the following workshops.

Transition (Organised by Dr des. Frederike Middelhoff, DFG Center for Advanced Studies “Imaginaria of Force”, University of Hamburg, and Dr Sara Asu Schroer, Department of Anthropology, University of Aberdeen): The workshop investigates the temporal dimensions of mobility in and beyond narratives with a perspective informed by cultural anthropology, literary studies, cultural animal studies and multispecies studies. Elements of fluidity, fluctuation and volatility inextricably linked to the phenomenon of ‘mobility’ and its spectrum of narrative configuration will be the focus of this workshop. In this respect, a number of fields and dimensions are important: from different temporalities of mobility (e.g. plant life, migratory movements of various species) and metamorphoses (e.g. in cultural studies of insects and entomology), on the one hand, to the disappearance and extinction of species and specific spaces and contact zones, such as air and water, on the other hand. Finally, it is the transience and ephemerality of narration and storytelling which is reflected as part of this seminar. We adopt a broad concept of narration which also includes images and forms of everyday storytelling.

Transformation (Organized by PD Dr Katrin Dennerlein, Department of New German Literary History I, JMU Würzburg // Prof. Dr Annegret Pelz, Alfred Krupp Wissenschaftskolleg Greifswald / Mobile Kulturen und Gesellschaften, University of Vienna): The workshop aims to study the interplay between the mobility of texts and related processes of transformation. We will investigate forms of movement, transport and portability and the influence on these mobilities with regard to the aesthetics of texts and their cultural contexts. The workshop focuses on portable paper media, albums, travel reports and travel diaries and explores how these works deal with ready mades and small mobile forms. Furthermore, it analyses how narrative and dramatic works become available only in the process of their distribution, how texts change shape or genre when turning into new editions and how they transform the literary field and other sociocultural contexts in the wake of their own metamorphoses.

Transgression (Organised by Dr. Arnika Peselmann, Department of European Ethnology, JMU Würzburg, and Felix Remter, M.A., Department of Ethnology, LMU Munich): The workshop takes up impulses from social geography, cultural anthropology and multispecies ethnography to explore the issue of borders, their spatial demarcation and other related mechanisms. The main objective is to investigate how human and nonhuman mobility affects, modifies and subverts these borders. We will examine the conflicts provoked by transgressions of spatially defined orders. These conflicts often become manifest in narratives which interpret mobility in terms of transgressive movements. Such stories can stabilize existing spatial orders or provoke new ones; they can draw but also undermine border lines. Therefore, the workshop pays particular attention to narrative configurations of undesired mobilities, not only in the context of ‘invasive species’ (e.g. the varroa mite or the pathogen related to swine fever) but also in representations criminalizing human migrants.

We ask applicants with a background in literary studies, cultural studies, social studies or the natural sciences working on or a planning to work on projects related to mobility to submit a letter of motivation, the workshop they wish to attend, a short academic CV and a list of publications (if available). The letter of motivation (max. 1 DIN A4 page) should include information about the applicant’s ongoing/planned project and the connection to the theme of the Würzburg Winter School. Please send your application (letter of motivation, workshop requested, CV, publications) in one PDF file to [email protected]. The deadline for applications is Sunday, 22nd of December 2019. We expect successful applicants to attend the Winter School for the entire week (Mo–Fri). Further information about the programme and the workshops will soon be available at:

The Winter School is generously funded by the Volkswagen Foundation. Accommodation and meals are covered for participants and travel costs will be reimbursed after the event. The event is organised by Prof. Dr Katrin Dennerlein (Department of New German Literary History I, JMU Würzburg), Prof. Dr Michaela Fenske (Department of European Ethnology, JMU Würzburg), Dr des. Frederike Middelhoff (DFG Center for Advanced Studies “Imaginaria of Force”, University of Hamburg) and Dr Arnika Peselmann (Department of European Ethnology, JMU Würzburg).

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Call for applications: Configurations of Mobility: Transition – Transformation – Transgression



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