Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Conference’ Category

On 9 and 10 July, I will be participating in a workshop in Berlin, organized by the DFG research network Auditory Knowledge in Transition. The workshop’s title is “Auditory Knowledge in Politics: The Sound of Power and the Power of Sounds”.

A keynote lecture by professor Monika Dommann of Zürich University with the title “Record, Rewind, Rewrite? Eine akustische Geschichtsschreibung der Presidential Tapes” will be held on Thursday July 9th, at 6 PM at the Seminarzentrum Silberlaube Otto-von-Simson-Straße 26 (Raum L 116). All are welcome.

I myself will comment upon a paper presented by my friend Daniel Morat of the Free University of Berlin.

plakat_dommann_930

Read Full Post »

Greuze_Portrait_of_Diderot

On October 5th, it will be 300 years ago that the French philosopher, writer, encyclopedia editor and brilliant conversationalist Denis Diderot (1713-1784) was born in a small town in north-eastern France. To commemorate this, Dr. Isabelle Deflers of Freiburg University and the Center of French Studies have organised a public symposium which will take place on October 28th. It’s title is:

Diderot und die Macht / Diderot et le pouvoir

Focussing on Diderot’s thought on power (and his quarrels with it), an interdisciplinary group of specialists will present various aspects of his work and influence. I have been asked to address Diderot’s intellectual confrontation with Tahiti, which he famously discussed in his Supplément au Voyage de Bougainville, a text written in the early 1770s but unpublished until well after his death. The focus of my presentation will be on Diderot’s views on sexual morals and their relevance to his political thought. The title of my presentation is:

Diderot und Tahiti: Europa im Spiegel einer außereuropäischen Gesellschaft

(Diderot and Tahiti: Europe Mirrored in a Non-European Society)

Admission to the symposium, which will take place in the historical Haus zur lieben Hand in Freiburg from 10:00 to 18:15, is free and open to all.

For the program, click here.

Read Full Post »

At a workshop at the ZiF in Bielefeld, I will be presenting a paper on the use of the concept of zeitgeist in early nineteenth century political discourse, titled:

The Politics of Time: Zeitgeist in Early Nineteenth-Century Political Discourse.

The workshop, titled “Zeitgeist: an Inquiry into the Media of Time-Specific Cultural Patterns”, takes place from 19 to 21 September, 2013. For the programm, click here. For the workshop’s concept, click here.

Read Full Post »

On the 8th of June, I will be presenting an ‘introductory lecture’ on problems of periodization within the framework of the student-organized conference

“Einschnitt – Einbruch – Einheit? Nachdenken über Zäsuren und Epochen”
(“Incision – Incursion – Unity? Thinking about Caesuras and Epochs”)

held at Freiburg University.

Taking the history of periodization as well as its current ‘state of the art’ within the humanities as my point of departure, I will try to give an overview over the major questions and controversies currently under discussion in this field.

For more information on this conference, please refer to the official website or the facebook page.

zaes

Read Full Post »

On May 15th to 17th of next year, I will be attending a conference titled “Declines and Falls: Perspectives in European History and Historiography” organized at the Central European University in Budapest.

My presentation – which draws upon my dissertation research – will address the complex interrelations between the concepts of progress and decadence in the long eighteenth century. Often, these two concepts are understood as mutually exclusive counter-concepts, epitomizing a forward-looking ‘Enlightenment theory of progress’ on the one hand and the backward and ultimately futile ‘complaints’ of conservatives and reactionaries on the other.

A closer look at the semantic structure of debates about the development of civilization in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries reveals, however, that to contemporaries, these concepts were not usually counter-concepts at all. Rather, they were regularly understood as linked, or even interdependent. To understand this paradox, my paper addresses the various ways in which ‘the culture/civilization as a whole’ was conceptualized in these discourses.

Joining the analysis of the semantic structure of contemporary narratives of cultural decline with their pragmatic interpretation as speech acts in public interaction, I identify three different types of interpretation of the ‘whole’ in which ostensibly monistic claims about civilization in toto were linked to a differentiated understanding of its plural nature. In this way, the common view of narratives of progress and decadence as mutually exclusive discourses – at worst resulting in a general narrative of modern intellectual history as an eternal struggle between Enlightenment and Counter-Enlightenment – may make way for a more detailed understanding of the complexities of the debates about the character and development of civilization that have been so very important to public discourses of self-reflection in the modern age.

Update: a conference report has been published on the CEU website.

Read Full Post »

Last week, I presented a paper at the conference ‘The Changing Experience of Time in the Long Nineteenth Century: Local, Regional, (Trans)National and Global Perspectives‘, held at the Centre for Transnational History of the University of St. Andrews (Scotland). My presentation was concerned with different models of historical analysis of the changing experiences and practices of time, especially with the so-called model of ‘temporalization’ which has been primarily championed by the German historian Reinhart Koselleck. Its title was:

Modern Times: Temporalization as a Concept of Historical Analysis

Also, I’m happy to announce that next month, I’m presenting other research at a conference ‘Populäre Geschichte und medialer Wandel zwischen Fortschrittsoptimismus und Kulturpessimismus‘, organized by the DFG-research group ‘Historische Lebenswelten in populären Wissenskulturen der Gegenwart‘ (DFG-FOR 875). This time, my topic will be a narrative of cultural interpretation that was quite influential at the end of the 18th century, which interpreted history as a slow evolution from a ‘poetic’ to a ‘prosaic’ mode of existence. The title of my presentation will be:

Vom poetischen Ursprung zur prosaischen Gegenwart: ein kulturanalytisches Geschichtsnarrativ im späten 18. Jahrhundert
(From poetic origin to prosaic present: a historical narrative of cultural analysis at the end of the 18th century)

Read Full Post »

Next March, I will be attending the 33rd annual conference of the Ninteenth Century Studies Association in Asheville, North Carolina. The title of the paper I will present is ‘Spiritual Power in a Secular Age: The ‘Spirit of the Age’ in Early 19th Century Politics’.

For more information, see here.

Read Full Post »

Next Tuesday, June 7th, I will be presenting my new research project on the history of silence in the Research Colloquium organized by Prof. Dr. Leonhard and PD. Dr. Goltermann. Under the title: “At the limits of language: building blocks for a comparative history of silence in the ‘long’ 19th century’, I will address some major theoretical and methodological issues I would like to explore in a research project currently taking shape. All are welcome to attend.

Link to the programme.

Read Full Post »

Some weeks ago, together with Franz Leander Fillafer, a colleague from Konstanz, I submitted a session proposal for the the 13th International Congress for Eighteenth Century Studies to be held in Graz (Austria) between July 25 and 29, 2011. Now, the text has been published on the website and the session is open for paper proposals (also through the website). For junior scholars, there are travel grants.

Session CS011:

Enlightenment from beginning to end

The question “What is Enlightenment”, still a bone of contention, is inseparably linked to two other issues unsatisfactorily neglected: When and how did it start, and why and when did it end?

As for the former question there seems to have been a robust, tacit consensus, tying Enlightenment’s rise to the critical exploration of nature in the seventeenth century, a phenomenon once described as the ‘scientific revolution’. Upon closer inspection, this account, which stressed secular and cognitive dimensions above all others, bears the clear the imprint of specific nineteenth-century preoccupations and attitudes. For this reason it has, in recent years, been progressively scrutinised. But this scrutiny will also have to engage with eighteenth-century perceptions of Enlightenment’s advent, ways of self-authentication both nuanced and scarcely inclined to follow retrospectively interpolated patterns.

What happened to the Enlightenment after its ostensible demise around 1800 is notoriously difficult to gauge. The problem is often bypassed by relying on the gridlocked epochal caesuras (1789/1800), by retrospectively describing specific eighteenth-century phenomena as premonitions (pre-Romanticism) or by declaring Enlightenment a transhistorical “project”, one still worth fighting for or still pernicious enough to be combated. Clearly, rewarding avenues of research may open up here.

As intimated, the location of Enlightenment’s beginnings and ends has not only been a problem bedevilling historical scholarship. In fact, it has been a point of departure for disputes over the character and development of the modern age, ranging from eighteenth-century controversies about the interpretation and value of Lumières/Aufklärung to debates about “postmodernism” and the “end of history”.

This panel invites proposals which, along this grid of questions, integrate the following  issues in creative ways, providing context-attuned studies throwing light on the question of how the beginnings of Enlightenment were mirrored by its ends, and vice-versa:

  • Eighteenth-century ‘genealogies’ of the enlightenment, both in self-descriptions of ‘enlightened’ authors and (negative) characterizations by others.
  • Forms and functions of narrating Enlightenment’s beginnings and ends in debates about the ‘modern age’ and ,modernity’ from the eighteenth-century to the present.
  • The heuristic value of specific analytic concepts (e.g. enlightened absolutism, Catholic Enlightenment, radical Enlightenment etc.) with respect to the question of periodization and the vicissitudes and fortunes of their application in distinct scholarly cultures under varying political auspices (liberal vs. conservative historiography etc.).
  • The specific temporal and intellectual contours of Enlightenment in aesthetic debates or circles, or in the construction of national canons of literature and art.

We will divide our section into sub-units with invited respondents/commentators after each.

Read Full Post »

I’ve been invited to speak at the conference Perspektiven der Aufklärung (Enlightenment Perspectives) to be held in Bern on September 16th and 17th of this year. The event is organized by Dietmar Wetzel and Aleksander Zieliński, both from the University of Bern. Other participants include Sabine Maasen (Basel), Evelyn Gröbl-Steinbach (Linz), Claudia Honegger (Bern), Urs Stäheli (Hamburg) and Hartmut Rosa (Jena).

Most of these are sociologists, so that I’ll  have the opportunity to discuss a few of my more wide ranging hypotheses with a group of people specifically trained to grapple with general questions and models. Since many historians are – to say the least – less inclined to leave their sources behind to address more theoretical and abstract questions, I am confident this will be a very useful experience.

The program can be found here, and the call for papers (with a description of the themes under discussion) here.

My topic will be one that I have spoken about before, in Wolfenbüttel last year: the concept of Counter-Enlightenment. More specifically, I will address three questions.

  • In what way and to what purpose was the concept of Counter-Enlightenment (anti-philosophie) used in the Age of Enlightenment?
  • What role did the concept play in historiographical traditions about the Enlightenment?
  • And finally: What are the strengths and weaknesses of the concept of Counter-Enlightenment as an analytical tool to understand the Enlightenment both as a historical phenomenon and as a general characteristic of modernity?

My specific goal is to address the links between the concept of Counter-Enlightenment as an analytical tool and as a historical concept used in historical contexts.

In my opinion it is too easy to just declare a clean break between the source language and the analytical framework, between the tools of the historian and his object. Whereas this can certainly be a viable goal, it will never be fully attainable. The reason for this lies in the fact that the language we use as historians to write about, but also to understand our source material as well as the world at large, is itself historically determined. The very same linguistic structures that are the subject of historical semantics still shape the semantical horizon within which this study is carried out. Therefore, self-reflection has to be an integral part of any study within the field of discourse analysis. This is all the more true in the case of the study of Enlightenment, the period in which our modern consciousness took shape.

Later this year, I will address these same questions in a seminar at the University of Bielefeld.

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts