German Studies Today: Gender and Intercultural Studies

Andrea Bandhauer, Maria Veber


The reflections we present in this article were inspired by discussions that ensued arounda panel conceptualised as one of four cornerstone panels of the conference ‘DiverseDirections in German Studies’, the inaugural conference of the German Studies Association of Australia (GSAA) in 2003. The conference intended to promote thediscussion of issues concerning the cultural determination and socio-political context ofthe discipline of German Studies in Australia. The second intention was to foster discus -sion about Australian German Studies and its interaction with German Studies in othercountries, its self-definition, and new directions in its continuing evolution with respect to both teaching and research. Within this brief, the panel ‘Gender and German Studies’was convened with twofold intention. On the one hand, it resulted from a perceived needto reflect on the relationship between gender and German Studies and to assert thecontinuing relevance of gender within the changing discipline. On the other hand and inconsonance with the conference as a whole, it sought to present an interplay of multi -lateral perspectives and thus to overcome the usual bi-lateral Australia/Germany andUS/Germany axes.1The conference discussion following the panel moved into broaderranging questions of how German Studies views itself and its further devel opment inAustralia, Germany and the United States. Aside from the key points of contemporary feminist debates such as the sex/gender distinction and the significance of Judith Butler,it addressed links between Gender and Cultural Studes and the place of literary studieswithin German Studies. The engaged and passionate presentations of the speakers(Ortrud Gutjahr (Universität Hamburg), Sara Lennox (University of Massa chusetts) andAlison Lewis (University of Melbourne)) demonstrated emphatically that in Australia as elsewhere, engagement with perspectives and methods inspired by a feminist inflected gender analysis runs in tandem with an intellectual activist interest in the shaping of German Studies.2

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