The University of Iowa

European Studies Group Spring 2013 Lecture Series

February 8, noon, UCC 2520C, Denise Filios (Spanish & Portuguese, UI), "Islamic Literary Salons and Andalusian Historiography:  Narrating the Conquest of Iberia"
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March 1, noon, UCC 1117, Dimitrios Latsis, "À la recherche de Yankee Art: Franco-American 'Exhibition Diplomacy' on the Eve of WWII"
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April 18, 5 p.m., UCC 2520D, Shannon Fogg (History, Missouri University of Science and Technology), "Restitution: Reconstructing Jewish Lives in Twentieth-Century France"
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May 3, noon, UCC 2520B, Luis Martin-Estudillo (Spanish & Portuguese, UI), "Confabulations: Guarding and Regarding Fortress Europe's Southern Walls"
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Fall 2013 Events

African Migrants to Spain and the (Silent) Voice of the Subaltern

Presented by: Michael Ugarte, Middlebush Professor of Romance Languages at the University of Missouri
Date: Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013
Time: 5:30 to 7:00 p.m.
Location: Room 2390 University Capitol Centre
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The European Union’s Democracy Deficit – Then and Now

Presented by: Alexander Somek
Date: Friday, Oct. 25
Time: Noon to 1 p.m.
Location: 1117 University Capitol Centre
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European Studies Conference: “Bridging European Divides”

December 6-7, 2013
315 Phillips Hall
University of Iowa

This year, The Fifth European Studies Conference on Europe and its links to the world is entitled “Bridging European Divides.” This open title suggests that we welcome diverse perspectives from many areas of scholarship in a range of disciplines on any topic, time period, situation or concept that may have bearing on modern Europe.

The Fifth European Studies Conference is co-sponsored by International Programs and the Division of World Languages, Literatures and Cultures. The European Studies Conference is associated with the European Studies Group, a center located in International Programs that coordinates lectures, panel discussions, and other events focusing on European issues.

Conference Schedule

Friday, DECEMBER 6

10:30-11:00 a.m. Coffee and Tea
Opening of the Conference, Welcoming remarks
Michel Laronde, Conference organizer
Downing Thomas, Associate Provost and Dean of International Programs
Russell Ganim, Director, Division of World Languages, Literatures &Cultures

11:00- 12:00 GUEST SPEAKER: Roberto Dainotto (Duke University)
Europe: Of Borders and Bridges

12:00-1:00 Catered Lunch on location

1:00-3:00 Presentations by UI Faculty:

  • 1:00 Anny Domnique Curtius (French and Italian)
    Bestializing Cécile Kyenge and Christiane Taubira: the Entanglements of Race and Female Political Leadership in France and Italy
  • 1:30 Luis Martin-Estudillo (Spanish and Portuguese)
    Trucking Europe: Heritage and Flow in Jordi Puntí’s Lost Luggage
  • 2:30 Waltraud Maierhofer (German)
    Human Trafficking in Recent German Crime Scene TV

3:00-3:30: Coffee Break

3:30-4:30 GUEST SPEAKER: Jean-Louis Pautrot (Saint-Louis University)
Challenging the Divides at the Core of European Diversity:  Agamben and Quignard on Naked Life

Saturday, DECEMBER 7

9:30-10:00 a.m.  Coffee and Tea

10:00-11:00 Presentations by UI Faculty

  • 10:00 Yasemin Mohammad (German)
    Re-imagining European Collective Memory and Identity in Jamal Mahjoub’s The Carrier
  • 10:30 Elke Heckner (German)
    Recent Memorial Culture and the Question of European Futurity

11:00-12:00 GUEST SPEAKER: Roberta Tabanelli (University of Missouri-Columbia)
Transnational Cinema and the Italian Migrant Film

12:00-2:00 Catered Lunch on location
Il resto della note/The Rest of the Night (Francesco Munzi, 2008)
Introduction and Q&A

Keynote speakers


Roberto Dainotto, Professor of Romance Studies, Duke University
Learn more about Prof. Dainotto

Title: Europe: of Borders and Bridges

Abstract: Virtually all discussions on Europe’s many divides make a point of dwelling on a statement attributed to Jean Monnet, the putative architect of the European Union: “If I had to do it again, I would begin with culture.” In 1999, the Council of Europe seemed in fact to take quite literally Monnet’s suggestion when it published Ecrire les frontières. Le Pont de l’Europe / Views from the Bridge of Europe -- a collection of short stories, aphorisms, and more random thoughts of Europe’s leading cultural figures on the theme of bridges. Taking my cue from Ecrire les frontières, and looking at European theories of modern borders (Montesquieu and Schmitt) and of bridges (Simmel and Andric), this lecture tries to offer an overview of historical attempts at creating cultural (and more specifically, literary) bridges across Europe’s divides, conflicts, and borders.

Roberto Dainotto

Bio sketch: Roberto Dainotto is Professor of Italian and of Literature at Duke University, and teaches courses on modern and contemporary Italian culture. His publications include the edited volume Racconti Americani del ‘900 (Einaudi, 1999), Place in Literature: Regions, Cultures, Communities (Cornell UP, 2000), and Europe (in Theory) (Duke UP, 2007), winner of the 2010 Shannon Prize in Contemporary European Studies. His research interests include: the Italian historicist tradition (Vico, Cuoco, Manzoni, Labriola and Gramsci); the formation of national identity between regionalism (comprehending the so-called “Southern Question” and “Jewish Question”) and European integration; Italian cinema.

Jean-Louis Pautrot

Jean-Louis Pautrot, Professor of French & International Studies, Saint Louis University

Title: Challenging the Divides at the Core of European Modernity: Agamben and Quignard on Naked Life

Abstract: Giorgio Agamben (born in 1942) is an Italian philosopher. Pascal Quignard (born in 1948) is a French author of fiction and meditative books. Both endeavor to rethink the foundations of European Modernity, in the wake of epistemological advances and theories of the 20th-century (Freud, Bataille, Benjamin, Foucault, Derrida, etc.).

Although producing strikingly different forms of discourse, they share a number of similarities in the way they challenge the Cartesian and Hobbesian tradition, and much of the heritage of the Enlightenment. Both of them articulate the foundations of their thinking around the historical and genocidal disasters of the 20th century and totalitarianism, which makes them distrustful of any form of power. Both of them examine and rethink the dichotomy between individual and society, between particular and general, by seeking singularity without identity. Both of them seek manners of being together that do not involve a constraining social structure.  Both of them challenge the defining divide between Human and Animal, the very “frontier” at the core of the Western philosophical tradition and history. Ultimately, both aim for a new notion of human life or presence that would not entail violent consequences for some or all of humanity. Their ideas are indicative of a shift in European thought that carries much import for the idea of community.

Bio Sketch: Jean-Louis Pautrot is Professor of French and International Studies at Saint Louis University. He authored a number of studies on contemporary French literature and on French cinema, mostly in their relations to music. His latest books are The André Hodeir Jazz Reader (University of Michigan Press, 2006), Pascal Quignard ou le fonds du monde (Rodopi, 2007), and Pascal Quignard (Gallimard-Grasset, 2013 – distributed world-wide through the Institut Français). He guest-edited two special issues of scholarly journals on Pascal Quignard, Études Françaises (2004) et L’Esprit Créateur (2012). His most recent project deals with the Parisian banlieues in silent French cinema.

Roberta Tabanelli, Associate Professor of Italian & Film Studies, University of Missouri-Columbia
Learn more about Prof. Tabanelli

Title: Transnational cinema and the Italian migrant film

Abstract: Transnational cinema generally includes films that foreground the interactions and conflicts involving two or more cultures, ethnic groups, political identities, populations, and nationalities. These films explore what it means to live in a transnational age characterized by mobility, exile, dislocation, and shifting concepts of home and community. In this talk, I will give an overview of some literature on and definitions of transnational cinema before outlining various transnational trends within contemporary Italian cinema. In particular, I will focus on one aspect of Italian transnational cinema: the migrant film. This group includes films that portray migrants on the Italian territory and their interactions with Italian natives. I will attempt a comprehensive analysis of the migrant film by providing both external data, such as information on co-productions, and internal data on cinematic elements like ethnicity, gender, plots, genres, and setting. Although Italian transnational cinema is not as recognized as some trends of French or German transnational films, the production of recent years shows that there is indeed a genre that is growing in both number and quality. 

Bio Sketch: Dr. Tabanelli's research and teaching interests are in Italian contemporary cinema and literature, film studies, cultural studies, literary and film theory, transnational cinema, post-human theories, foreign language teaching methodology, and teaching with technology. She has completed a book on contemporary Neapolitan cinema, I pori di Napoli. Il cinema di Mario Martone, Antonio Capuano e Pappi Corsicato (Longo Editore, Ravenna), in 2010. Her other publications include articles and essays on Saverio Costanzo, Erri De Luca, Mario Martone, Laura Pugno, and Simona Vinci.

University Of Iowa Faculty Abstracts

Anny Dominique Curtius (Department of French and Italian)
Bestializing Cécile Kyenge and Christiane Taubira: the Entanglements of Race and Female Political Leadership in France and Italy

The paper examines how recent racist attacks, condemned by the United Nations, against French Minister of Justice Christiane Taubira and Italian Minister of Integration, Cécile Kyenge, complicate contemporary debates and critical theories about postcolonial conviviality, intercultural dialogues,  and race in 21st-century Europe.

Elke Heckner (Department of German)
Recent Memorial Culture and the Question of European Futurity

This paper examines how recent national memorial culture in Europe that tackles its entangled and difficult histories (such as slavery and fascism) can contribute to a bridging of divides by linking past historical traumas and injustices to present-day concerns. In probing the possibilities and limits of a shared European memory that addresses its messy transnational and global legacies, I will discuss the 2012 Memorial to the Abolition of Slavery in Nantes and the 2011 Dresden Military History Museum (especially against the background of the European Holocaust memorial culture of the 1990s). Special attention will be paid to the future-oriented and multi-directional claims these memorial sites make. In what ways do these sites facilitate a critical engagement in the public sphere that links memorial practices to much-needed present-day interventions? This question seems especially urgent, since an increasingly right-wing Europe has clearly not “learned” from the histories it seeks to memorialize.

Waltraud Maierhofer (Department of German)
Human Trafficking in Recent German Crime Scene TV

Global human trafficking is the second largest and fastest-growing organized crime in the world today. The EU is pushing for more action against human trafficking and better protection for the victims. News about human trafficking are on the rise.

This presentation argues that one important venue in which awareness of the issue of human trafficking has been raised in Germany, is the highly popular Sunday-night television series Tatort (Crime Scene). Often, controversial topics that would not be financed in feature films or even documentaries, are welcome in the cult series which has been running since 1970.

In the last two years alone, the German Tatort has picked up the theme of human trafficking three times with locations in Hannover, Vienna, and Frankfurt. I will investigate the following episodes:

  • Tatort: Wegwerfmädchen [Girl on the Garbage Dump, 2012]
  • Tatort: Angezählt  [Countdown, 2013].
  • Tatort: Der tote Chinese [The Dead Chinese Man, 2013] .

Although these cases are all purely fictional, they give faces and background stories to abstract numbers and raise awareness of a dark and often ignored issue.

Luis Martín-Estudillo (Department of Spanish and Portuguese)
Trucking Europe: Heritage and Flow in Jordi Puntí’s Lost Luggage

Jordí Puntí’s 2010 novel Maletes perdudes (Lost Luggage) tells the story of a Catalan trucker, Gabriel Delacruz, who impregnated four women in four different European countries while working for an international moving company based in Barcelona and vanished mysteriously a few years later. Gabriel’s life is reconstructed by his four sons: the German Christof, the French Christophe, the British Christopher, and the Spanish Cristòfol. In their thirties, they accidentally discover their mutual existence and form a brotherhood to look for their missing father, who ends up being “resurrected” thanks to this initiative. In my reading, which engages Said’s work on filiation and affiliation as well as Beck and Grande’s contributions on cosmopolitanism, the novel allegorically suggests that a European identity cannot be built from political discourse or philosophical debate alone. The construction of a common European imaginary will also depend on shared cultural references and personal exchanges resulting from increasingly dynamic flows among the inhabitants of the EU, rather than any official policy. Puntí’s work addresses this surreptitious essentialism by revealing the futility of a contemplative search for a common European identity that continues to be founded on an obsession with constructed, imaginary origins and an insistence on their impossible perpetuation. Without dismissing the weight of heritage, his proposal highlights the identity-making forces of potentiality—this is, what one could become or do—, mobility, and exchanges. However, fluidities and affiliation, alas, are reserved for those who are within Europe and have a claim to the “right” lineage.

Yasemin Mohammad (Department of German)
Re-imagining European Collective Memory and Identity in Jamal Mahjoub’s The Carrier

This paper explores how the Sudanese-British writer Jamal Mahjoub (b.1960) challenges an essentialist understanding of European collective memory and identity in his historical novel The Carrier (1998). The Carrier interweaves the stories of two male protagonists. The first is the seventeenth-century Arab scholar and scientist Rashid al-Kenzy, who travels from Algiers to Denmark in order to gain possession of a telescope. The second is the historian and archeologist Hassan, who is sent to a small town in Denmark in the 1990s, in order to do research on the skeletal remains of a man. Hassan believes that the remains belong to Rashid Al-Kenzy and day by day he becomes more obsessed with Rashid’s story since he identifies with him. In my analysis I focus on how Rashid and Hassan’s experiences of home, belonging, travel and exile offer subaltern imaginations of European collective memory and identity. I argue that in the novel Mahjoub imagines collective memory as multidirectional (subject to ongoing negotiations) by examining the centuries-long interactions and borrowings between North Africa, Middle East and Europe.