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Posts Tagged ‘Politics’

The latest issue of French History includes an article I wrote on the role of silence during the French Revolution, titled

Le silence du peuple: The Rhetoric of Silence during the French Revolution

French History, 31, Issue 4 (2017), p. 440–469.

https://doi.org/10.1093/fh/crx062

Abstract

In July 1789, a phrase was introduced into French political discourse that would quickly become a standing expression: le silence du peuple est la leçon des rois. Taking this political bon mot as a starting point, the article traces the uses of and responses to collective silences during the French Revolution. It is argued that silence cannot be reduced to just the lack of ‘voice’ indicating suppression or political impotence. Rather, it must be understood as a mode of political action with a rhetoric of its own. Sketching this rhetoric not only highlights the nature and functions of a mode of political communication too often disregarded. It also shows how the controversies surrounding these silences reflected some of the major political questions of the day, playing a key role in the renegotiations of the communicative spaces of politics set off by the Revolution.

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On April 6 to 7, I will participate in a conference organized by the History of Parliament research group in cooperation with Prof. Christopher Reid of Queen Mary University London.

The conference program may be found here.

My own paper, titled

“A Rhetoric of Silence: Silent Members in the July Monarchy Chamber of Deputies (1830-1848)”,

will be concerned with the rhetorical role of the silent members in the parliamentary debates of the July Monarchy. As I will argue, these silent members were anything but passive. Rather, they developed a complex rhetoric of their own, playing a significant role in the development of debates.

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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.

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Last week (May 7-8), I participated in an international conference titled “Parlamentarismuskritik und Antiparlamentarismus in Europa” [Criticism of Parliamentarism and Anti-Parliamentarism], organized by the German Kommission für Geschichte des Parlamentarismus and EuParl.net, a European research network on the history of parliaments.

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Besides a keynote speech by Dr. Norbert Lammert, speaker of the German Bundestag, I had the opportunity to discuss the varieties and modes of criticism of parliament and parliamentarism with a number of renowned experts in the field. My own presentation focussed on the question to what extent antiparliamentary sentiments and discourses current in the German Empire found their way into the ‘lion’s den’, the Reichstag itself. Combining qualitative and quantitative methods of analysis, I attempted to shed some new light on a few famous cases of antiparliamentary discourse in the imperial parliament as well as on their wider relevance for its political culture and modes of communication.

The conference’s program may be found here. A publication of the proceedings is planned.

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Since my time in London at the German Historical Institute is slowly coming to an end, I’m starting to prepare for my teaching in the summer term in Freiburg. This time, I am offering two courses on different aspects of political history.

Politics from Below: Forms of Participation Beyond the Institutions (France and Britain, 1780-1914)

This seminar course deals with groups that remained excluded from the ‘authoritative’ political institutions (like women, workers, political fringe groups). It asks what strategies were available to them to participate in the political process nonetheless. The course also tries to determine the amount of success these different strategies could have, taking into account both the reactions of the wider public and establishment ‘countermeasures’.

Against Mob Rule and Government by Gabble: Left- and Right-Wing Criticism of Democracy in France and Germany (1870-1933)

In this reading course, we will look into the various traditions of French and German criticism of democracy before its collapse in the twentieth century. Considering the spectrum of anti-democratic positions at the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century from a double comparative perspective will allow us to better evaluate the nature and context of what is often reductively interpreted as a specifically German tradition of right-wing ‘forerunners to Hitler’.

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In the coming summer semester, I will be teaching two courses at Freiburg University.

 

One seminar course, titled:

Political Arenas: Parliamentary Cultures in the Long 19th Century in Comparison
(see the official website and the pearltree with links about this theme)

 

And a reading course:

A Small European Country: Introduction to Dutch History (1581-1914)
(see the official website and the pearltree with links about this theme)

Dutch History

 

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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.

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