Interdisciplinary Graduate Conference 2020

“Ideologies of Convenience: Cynicism and Irony”

University of Oregon, 13th -14th February 2020
Keynote speaker: Silke-Maria Weineck, University of Michigan

Graduate Conference Flyer Feb 13th and 4th Cynicism


“I know what I’m doing but I’m doing it nevertheless” - Slavoj Žižek’s description of modern cynicism echoes its definition by German philosopher Peter Sloterdijk as “false enlightened consciousness”. The 20th century has turned cynicism into a mass phenomenon (Peter Sloterdijk), a “condition of disillusion” (Timothy Bewes). But cynicism can also be understood and theorized more generally as a general distrust of other’s motives; a subversion of conventional value systems and a keeping of distance through “a filter of insincerity” (William Barnes). Cynicism has infiltrated both the arts and society: Cinematic, literary, political, media, educational, and social discourses are imbedded in a cynical mindset. In this mindset, it is however often accompanied by irony. Together, they constitute an asymmetrical couple, writes Žižek. Although they both inform many satirical, critical, or nihilistic expressions, they are often not theorized as structural powers of the Western mindset. The Graduate Conference “Ideologies of Convenience: Cynicism and Irony” is exploring the complexities of cynical and ironic thinking and their productions. Because of both cynicism and irony’s manifold prevalence, our conference will explore many different fields of interest, from the study of literature and philosophy, to questions of societal behavior, environmental agency, popular culture, journalism, politics, and media. We want to bring cynicism and irony to the forefront of a discourse that mainly arises in modernity and postmodernity but can certainly be traced back throughout history.

This event is free and open to the public.

Conference Schedule

Day 1: Thursday, February 13th 2020

Knight Library: DREAM Lab

2-2:15pm: Introductory Remarks 
2:15-3pm Undergraduate Panel

Panel Chair: Jeremiah Young (University of Oregon)

Mya Lansing (University of Oregon): "How to Say Mean Things Nicely - Evolution of Figurative Language in Media"

Erin Smallwood (University of Oregon): “Cynical Dispositions in History:             Examining the Holocaust and current US political bias”

3-3.30pm: Coffee break 
3.30-5pm: Grad Panel 1: Cynicism and Irony in Literature

Panel Chair: Joscha Klueppel (University of Oregon)

Kaitlin Yeomans (University of Oregon): “Existential Kynicism and Phenomenological Cynicism of Disability in Contemporary German Literature”

Reed Johnson (University of Colorado Boulder): “Walser’s Laughter: Affirmation as Resistance in Jakob von Gunten”           

Margaret Speer (University of California Irvine): “Are there no men present?”: Virginia Woolf’s Performative Irony in “A Room of One’s Own”

5.30-6.30pm: Reception for all presenters in GSH 117 

















Day 2: Friday, February 14th 2020

Knight Library: DREAM Lab

9-10:30am: Grad Panel 2: Political Cynicism

Panel Chair: Joscha Klueppel (University of Oregon)

N. Trace Cabot (University of Southern California): “One Dimensional Manchild: Cynical Ideology, Digital Media, and the ‘Alt-Right’”

Erica Heim (University of Oregon): “From political passivism to political activism in social media: Examining Cynicism & Deviance in a Hegemonic Landscape”

Johanna Willruth (University of Colorado Boulder): “Musik ist keine Lösung: The representation of socio-political criticism in form of cynicism, irony and sarcasm in German Rap music”

10:30-11am: Coffee Break 
11-12:30 Grad Panel 3: Cynicism and Irony in TV, film, and music

Panel Chair: Lisa Höller (University of Oregon)

Sean Bray (University of Colorado Boulder): “An Anti-Fascist Führer: ‘Ideologies of Convenience’ in the Ernst Thälmann films”           

Caroline Jäger (University of Arizona) “I’m a local, you idiot!’ – ‘ Get lost, you flat country Tyrolean!’” – On ironic representations of the self and other in Felix Mitterer’s Piefke-Saga

Joscha Klüppel (University of Oregon): “BoJack Horseman: An            Example of Cynicism in Popular Culture”

12:30-2pm: Lunch Break


2-3.30: Grad Panel 4: Cynicism and Rhetoric

Panel Chair:  Bobbie Bermudez (University of Oregon)

Mary R. Adkins Cartee (University of Oregon): “A Curriculum of Intensity in a Culture of Bombardment: An Aesthetic for the Anthropocene”

Troy Rowden (University of Washington State): “Dangerous Contradictions”

Ricardo Friaz (University of Oregon): “Spinoza as the Devil: The Cynical Exegesis of History”

Tobias Lehmann (University of Oregon): “Cynicism in Adorno’s Negative Dialectics”

3:30-4pm: Coffee Break 
4-5:30pm: Keynote Speech:

Silke-Maria Weineck: “The Gods of Irony”

Professor of German Studies and Comparative Literature, University of Michigan































This event is organized by the Department of German & Scandinavian, and co-sponsored by:

Oregon Humanities Center

Graduate School of the University of Oregon

Program of Folklore and Public Culture

Department of Education Studies

Department of Philosophy

Department of Cinema Studies