International Colloquium: Cultural Transfer(s) between Belgium and Germany, 1940-1944

International Colloquium: Cultural Transfer(s) between Belgium and Germany, 1940-1944

Elke Brems and Jan Ceuppens (KU Leuven / CERES), Hubert Roland (UC Louvain), Ine Van linthout (U Gent)
From - Until
20.04.2017 - 21.04.2017
Jan Ceuppens, Department of applied linguistics, KU Leuven

More often than not, the artistic and economic aspects of transnational cultural exchange are accompanied, intentionally or unintentionally, by an ideological one. A target culture may consider cultural import simply as enrichment, but it may also see it as an instrument to emphasise common values and interests, or precisely to call out contrasts between itself and a source culture. Alternatively, the source culture may partake in cultural export to strengthen its profile in the target culture, or as a means to project its own values and interests beyond its borders. Ideological aspects take a new turn in cases where exchange occurs between a ‘dominant’ culture, like that of Germany, and a ‘peripheral’ one, like that of Flanders/Wallonia/Belgium, and of course they manifest most acutely in periods of political unrest. The occupation of Belgium during the war years (1940-1944) is an extreme and especially interesting example in this regard, particularly given its political complexity and the strongly divergent positions taken up by actors in the cultural and political field.

The proposed colloquium aims to shed light on these ideological aspects of (the) cultural transfer(s) between Germany and Belgium, drawing on cases from literature, theatre, music, visual arts, photography and film. This can involve transfer in the broadest sense, encompassing ‘intersemiotic’ adaptation and representation, but also instances of cultural mediation (for example: lectures, group exhibitions, cultural trips, etc.) carried out by individuals or institutions. Similarly, studies of transfer can involve the channels influencing target-culture reception, which were closely monitored and censored during the occupation, including publishers, cinemas, theatres, secondary schools, universities, and the various bodies established by the occupying forces themselves for the spreading of German culture in Belgium and the spreading of Belgian culture in Germany, respectively.

Given these various approaches to transfer research, the colloquium offers space for studies treating a wide range of both language-related and non-language-related cultural expression. Possible topics and research questions can include, but are not limited to, the following:
- What image of Belgium was propagated in Germany during the Second World War? Alternatively, which aspects / stereotypes of Germany played a role in representations in Belgium? How were these images / aspects / stereotypes put to use by the propaganda authorities?
- To what extent was Belgium perceived as a nation by the Germans? How strong was the influence of the Flamenpolitik and what role did Francophone Belgians play in the image of Belgium contrived by the Germans?
- Which governmental bodies, cultural organisations, publishers, galleries or other actors from the cultural field were responsible for these cross-border representations?
- Which works comprised the canon as it was produced and perceived in Belgium and Germany, respectively? Which authors could be found in translation in libraries? Which theatres performed which plays? Which artists were exhibited? Which composers were implicitly or explicitly propagated and exported as ‘German’ or ‘Belgian’?
- Which official and informal channels played a role in the cultural transfers between Belgium and Germany in the Second World War? Who were the intermediaries and ‘gatekeepers’?
- Which strategies, ideological decisions and attitudes led to (or counteracted) cultural transfer between Belgium and Germany?
- Did cultural transfer also occur that contradicted the prevailing ideology – in other words, were there clandestine forms of contact?
- Did cultural transfer between Belgium and Germany also play a role in popular culture (popular music, film) in this period?

The conference languages are German and English. Proposals in Dutch and French may also be accepted.

Interested scholars are invited to submit an abstract of approximately 250 words detailing their proposed contribution and area(s) of interest. The deadline for abstract submissions is 31th October, 2016. All submitters will be notified by the end of November.


Contact (announcement)

Elke Brems and Jan Ceuppens
KU Leuven