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ISU to host inaugural conference on the study of East German art Sept. 15-17

September 09, 2014

Angela Hampel, "Penthesilea," 1986-87, Kunstfonds, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden. Courtesy of the artist.


AMES, Iowa — Iowa State University will host the inaugural conference of the Transatlantic Institute for the Study of East German Art, Sept. 15-17 at the Iowa State Memorial Union and ISU College of Design.

"Reassessing East German Art: 25 Years After the Fall of the Berlin Wall" will bring together 16 international scholars working in England, France, Germany and the United States to share research and discuss new directions for the discipline. It will be the first major conference on the topic of East German painting, printmaking and performance art to be held in the U.S.

"This conference will allow for the exchange of ideas across international borders and academic generations, resulting in new approaches to the topic and defining a new field of study for English-language scholars," said conference organizer April Eisman, associate professor of art history in the ISU Department of Integrated Studio Arts.

Stephen Brockmann, professor of German at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, will present the keynote address at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 15, in Kocimski Auditorium, room 101 College of Design.

In "Reconstructing East German Culture," Brockmann will address the current state of research into East German culture 25 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, including a number of challenges faced by scholars who wish to conduct such research. He also will "pay homage to the bravery of the East German protesters of 1989 who helped transform their nation and the world."

In addition to teaching German language classes, Brockmann teaches courses in Nazi and Resistance culture and the history of German film. His interdisciplinary research explores the relationship between literature, culture and German national identity. He is the author of "Literature and German Reunification" (Cambridge University Press, 1999), "German Literary Culture at the Zero Hour" (Boydell & Brewer, 2004), "Nuremberg: The Imaginary Capital" (Boydell & Brewer, 2006) and "A Critical History of German Film" (Camden House, 2010).

Brockmann is past president and serves on the executive council and board of the German Studies Association. He received the DAAD Prize for Distinguished Scholarship in German and European Studies/Humanities from the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies in 2007.

Brockmann's address will be followed by a reception in the College of Design's Lyle E. Lightfoot Forum.

Three panel presentations on "East German Art in the Early Years," "Socialist Realism and Modern Art in East Germany" and "Cultural Politics in East Germany" will take place from 8:45 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 16, in the Memorial Union Gallery. A screening of "Goya," a film by director Konrad Wolf, will be from 8 to 10:30 p.m. Sept. 16 in Kocimski Auditorium. Sean Allan, a senior lecturer at the University of Warwick, will introduce the film and answer questions following the showing.

Panel presentations on "Women Artists and Performance Art in East Germany" and "East German Art Today" will be from 8:45 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 17, in the Memorial Union Gold Room. The conference will culminate with a roundtable discussion on "The Future of the Study of East German Art" from 3 to 4 p.m., also in the Gold Room. View a complete conference schedule online.

All events are free and open to the public. Those from outside Iowa State University who may be interested in attending panel sessions are asked to email Eisman,, to ensure enough seating.

The conference will result in an edited volume and the first issue of an annual peer-reviewed, open-access journal on East German art and culture, both to be edited by Eisman.

The conference is co-sponsored by the ISU Office of the Vice President for Research, College of Design, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Department of World Languages and Cultures, Department of Integrated Studio Arts and Women’s and Gender Studies Program, and funded in part by a Women’s and Diversity Grant from Iowa State.

April Eisman, Integrated Studio Arts/Art History, (515) 294-8513,
Heather Sauer, Design Communications, (515) 294-9289,