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Punk Symposium in Berlin: PANK! – (German) language in zines, punk art and punk rock

Organization: Punk Scholars Network
Categories: American, Interdisciplinary, British, Lingustics, Pedagogy, German, Popular Culture, Gender & Sexuality, Rhetoric & Composition, Women's Studies, African-American, Colonial, Revolution & Early National, Transcendentalists, 1865-1914, 20th & 21st Century, Medieval, Early Modern & Renaissance, Long 18th Century, Romantics, Victorian, 20th & 21st Century, Aesthetics, Anthropology/Sociology, Classical Studies, Cultural Studies, Environmental Studies, Film, TV, & Media, Food Studies, History, Philosophy, Miscellaneous
Event Date: 2023-09-22 Abstract Due: 2023-06-15

PANK! – (German) language in zines, punk art and punk rock

„Haste ’ne Macke?!“ (Engl. „you nuts?!“) – That is how Nina Hagen begins her song "Pank", which she recorded in 1978, self-ironically written the way Germans usually pronounce the English word "Punk". Youth slang, everyday language, humor, and directness characterize early German punk songs in the late 1970s—a departure from internationalized and slick mainstream pop lines à la ABBA. Political communication was also further radicalized in German punk rock. When the Hamburg band Slime loudly postulated in 1980 that they didn’t want any „Bullenschweine“ (Engl. “bull pigs”) and thus polemically commented on the constant confrontation between law enforcement and punks from their point of view, the 10-year-old slogans of radical left-wing bands like Ton Steine Scherben seemed almost well-behaved. Back to the concrete, back to reality, namely the low, grim, and dreary reality—but this reality is then, in turn, violently and solemnly torn apart. A graphic equivalent of this frenzy of expression can be found in the fanzines of the time—Do It Yourself (DIY) magazines in self-publication, made possible by the spread of the photocopier—which also turn the tables with ironic wit, chaotic layout, and humorous appropriation of the narrow-mindedness in contemporary German advertising.

The 1-day symposium in Berlin looks at the diverse use and sometimes the wanted & intentional misuse, especially (but not only) of the German language in punk from West and East Germany, Switzerland, and Austria from the 1970s to the present day. Contributions and analysis of punk language usage in other countries, languages, and dialects are also welcome.

The symposium is organized by the German branch of the Punk Scholars Network. We will come together for one day in the Club der polnischen Versager in Berlin Mitte, we will present & discuss during the day, and we are planning a performance at Acker Stadt Palast and a concert at Schokoladen in the evening. More on that later. For now: We are looking for contributions from academics and non-academics, from old punks and new punks, in the form of 20-minute presentations, with or without music, with or without PowerPoint. Alternative formats and film contributions are also appreciated.

Possible themes may include, but are not limited to:

·       Punk poetry

·       Political punk

·       Analysis of punk lyrics

·       Use of language in zines and artist books

·       The aesthetics of punk graphics and use of language, for example punk typographic styles, ransom note letters, photocopies, and collages

·       Language on punk(ish) concert posters, on record covers, in comics

·       DIY, language and power structures

·       Speech and punk performances

·       Co-option of the term 'punk' in commercial advertising

·       Historical comparisons of Deutschdada and Deutschpunk

·       Migrant punk

·       Punk as pedagogy

·       Punk graffiti slogans, buttons, stickers

·       External perception and punk: representations of punk in the daily press, academic texts, and punk in fiction

·       Feminist and queer perspectives

·       Punk and religion

·       Punk then, punk today: changes in the usage of language

·       Humor in punk

Please send abstracts with a title and a short description of the project (max. 350 words) and any technical requirements to: call@punk-symposium.de

DEADLINE: June 15, 2023

You will then receive an answer from us by June 30, 2023.

More information and regular updates: www.punk-symposium.de

We are looking forward to your ideas!

Aneta, Philipp & Marie (Punk Scholars Network Germany)



M.A. Skov