Seventh Biennial Graduate Student Conference
Department of Germanic Studies
Indiana University, Bloomington
February 20-22, 2009
Keynote Address by Prof. Lutz Koepnick, Washington University
Plenary Address by Prof. Mike Putnam, Carson-Newman College
A perceptual magnet is anything that pulls at our attention and demands to be noticed. The attraction can be intense enough to reduce all other competing perceptions to trivial background noise, like a screaming tea kettle, or weak enough to be just barely noticed, like the color red in “The Sixth Sense”. Regardless of its intensity, however, a perceptual magnet emits a field of influence that affects us and how we orient ourselves in the world we occupy. This influence may be complicated when multiple perceptual magnets compete for our attention. It may not be easy to identify where the edges of a field begin and end.
Sometimes magnets are tangible objects. The sun, for instance, perpetually draws the earth toward itself. Other times a magnet is like a black hole, which we can only be aware of through evidence of its field. Perceptual magnets can themselves be tangible or intangible. In either case it can be difficult, if not impossible to identify what a perceptual magnet really is. This conference will discuss instances in language, literature, linguistics and culture where perceptual magnets seem to be present, and try to determine the who/what/where/when/why and how of them.
Call for Papers
Possible research questions to address this topic include but are not limited to the following:
- Narrative focalization makes a mind or heart visible in an unempirical way: how—and with what reliability—does the invisible come into compelling focus?
- Do hyperbole and metaphor mislead or sharpen perceptions?
- When can vagueness in art be more accurate than precision?
- Does an aesthetic pointer (an index) do the same thing as empirical evidence?
- Does the naïve, under-interpretive reader perceive qualitatively more or less than the cautious, over-interpretive reader?
- Which means have more or less successfully served manipulation of consent and propaganda in (German) history and culture and how did they work?
- How are discourses of seduction articulated to promote charisma and the cult of personality?
- In which way do attention and sensibility as intellectual qualities determine the intensity of our perceptions as well as how we attempt to understand those things which are attracting us?
- What distinctions that further our understanding of perceptual magnets result from an analysis of elements that attract or repel figures within narratives?
- In linguistic interactions, what events or signals set the tone for register, politeness, or social distance between interlocutors, if any? What cues can be an impetus for a change in these to be initiated? How do interlocutors react to these events and signals?
- How is our understanding of poetry or oratory influenced by rhyme, alliteration, or dissonance? What about interruptions in such patterns?
- What things are salient in our production, perception and interpretation of linguistic signals? How do we recognize established phonemes amid the variability inherent to phonetic production and “noise”?
- (How) do we recognize or react to accents of people from other dialects or languages? What cues allow the same in digital speech recognition?
- In what ways do intonation, stress, and pitch accent influence our grammatical or lexical perception?
- By what means do L1 and L2 learners form abstract phonological categories from the empirically variable acoustic signals they receive? Do L1 categories influence the acquisition of L2 phoneme categories?
- How do we form lexemes in L1 or L2 acquisition? Does one field influence the other, or vice versa?
- What semantic representation do lexical items with a variety of actual instantiations have? Do lexical items have archetypes from which variance can be measured?
Attn: Christopher Sponsler; firstname.lastname@example.org