Graduate Students Update: Matthew Childs

Submitted by Michael Neininger on
Matthew Childs

Conferences attended:


72nd National Postgraduate Colloquium in German Studies (London, 28–29 April 2023

Panel: Memory and Landscapes

Paper Title: “The Ethics of Narrating Catastrophe: Kleist’s Das Erdbeben in Chili”

In my paper, I explore the position of narrative texts in relation to broader public discourses on catastrophe, inquiring after the ethical implications of placing disasters within the framework of a story. Using Heinrich von Kleist’s Das Erdbeben in Chili as a case study, I show how the text both participates in and demonstrates the problematics of fashioning stories from catastrophe—and the social aftershocks that can arise from their telling.


ESSCS and TransHumanities Joint Summer School (Giessen, 19–23 June 2023)

Conference Theme: Bouncing Forward: Future Narratives, Scenarios, and Transformations in the Study of Culture

Panel: Shifting Cultures and Implications of Society

Paper Title: “Foggy Pasts, Shifting Presents, Uncertain Futures: Wilhelm Raabe’s Pfisters Mühle: Ein Sommerferienheft”

This paper makes the claim that Raabe’s 1884 novel, Pfisters Mühle: Ein Sommerferienheft, is a text that attempts to depict and, in its failure, exemplifies the transformative processes of modernity and their effects on society. Utilizing the aesthetic properties of industrial pollution, Raabe’s novel shows how German society was adapting to a period defined by rapid change, providing for contemporary readers of the novel an opportunity to observe how a major author of nineteenth-century Germany was attempting to come to the terms with unprecedent challenges.


German Studies Association Annual Conference (Montréal, 6–8 October 2023

Panel: Catastrophe and Critique

At this year’s GSA annual conference, I had the opportunity to co-organize with Prof. Christoph Weber (University of North Texas) a panel series on “Catastrophe and Critique.” After a very successful three days, we are now in the process of developing the contributions into a volume, which we will co-edit and to which I will provide my own essay.