The 4th Annual Toronto German Studies Symposium brought together twelve speakers, six moderators and numerous guests in a lively and very amicable exchange of ideas on the theme “Fact and Fiction: Literature and Science in the German and European Context.” The two-day Symposium was organized by Professor Christine Lehleiter, and opened with prefatory words of welcome and appreciation from Sabine Sparwasser, German Consul General in Toronto.
The relationships between the two branches of knowledge--the Sciences and the Humanities--were examined using a variety of approaches. Speakers elaborated on how developments in science influenced philosophy, literature and the arts, even as these latter also offered independent responses to the questions raised in the sciences. Developments in the Humanities, moreover, complemented those in the Sciences.
The theme of the Symposium was selected by Lehleiter based on her own current research into the relationship between biology and literature. In order to provide a framework that would maximize the topic’s relevancy for other scholars, the theme was expanded to encompass the relationship between the sciences and the humanities. Lehleiter’s interest in this subject focuses on the increasing differentiation and specialization of the two branches of knowledge beginning in the 18th century with major discoveries such as Darwin’s theory of evolution. In a sense, themes explored at the Symposium participated in a larger attempt within academia to reconcile sciences and humanities. Lehleiter is now preparing a collection of essays on the topic for publication.
The logistics of the symposium were greatly enhanced with on-site support of graduate students, Nicole Perry and Yasmin Aly, and the event rounded out with a dinner party at the home of Professor John Zilcosky and a buffet of delightful Hungarian cuisine catered by the popular Queen Street food emporium, The Prague. Financial support for the Symposium was secured through the Dean’s Office, as well as substantial backing provided through a conference grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).
The 5th Annual German Studies Symposium, organized by Professor John Noyes, will take place April 12 - 13, 2012, and explores the topic, “Where is German? The Global Imagination and the Location of Culture.”