24.10.2008 - 25.10.2008, Liblice
The Kafka conference held at Liblice Castle near Prague in 1963 changed not only the reception of a hitherto ostracized author: the heated and controversial discussions between the literary scholars had an indisputable influence on the cultural-political climate of Czechoslovakia. Breaking the taboo placed over Kafka’s work paved the way for the reform efforts culminating in the Prague Spring. In retrospect, Kafka therefore seems to be a symbol for the renaissance of intellectual and artistic freedoms within the communist system.
To illuminate Kafka’s role in this time of intellectual, cultural, and political awakening, international scholars converged on the place of this historical event to take part in the conference “Kafka and Power” on October 24 and 25, 2008. Up for discussion was a current-day appraisal of the developments unfolding from 1963: was Kafka’s literature really ideological dynamite? Did it serve the reform movement as a catalyst? To what extent were the demands for “socialism with a human face” influenced by a rereading of Kafka? In short: is there a grammar of power against which Kafka writes? Reconstructing the historical events should make those steps markedly clearer which were taken on the path from a constrictive social realism towards “realism without borders”. Contemporary witnesses, writers, politicians, and diplomats have contributed to this discussion in Liblice and told of the significance Kafka has in their personal recollections of the years between 1963 and 1968.
Jiří Gruša, Klaus Theweleit, Alena Wagnerová, KD Wolff, and Alexej Kusák, to name just a few of the prominent conference participants, discussed how the Kafka reception then progressed after the Prague Spring and enriched historical issues with work-immanent analysis.
A project of Zipp – German-Czech Culture Projects, the Institut für Textkritik in Heidelberg and the Germanistisches Seminar der Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg in collaboration with the Institute for Contemporary History of the Academy of Sciences, Prague
With the friendly support of the German-Czech Future Fund.
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