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Here you can find all the keynote lecture videos since 2011.

Space, Place and the Humanities: The Emergence of GeoHumanities

In this talk I outline the development of the new interdisciplinary field of the GeoHumanities linking relatively recent developments in the digital humanities and GIS to ancient concerns for space, place and ways in which we inhabit the world, the flowering of spatial theory since the 1970s in geography, and the spatial turn across the humanities and social sciences of the last few decades. In addition, I link the fusion of all of these histories with the embrace of ‘geo’ themes in the creative arts ranging from geo-poetry to conceptual art. While the emergence of GeoHumanities is not without problems and dangers I argue that the new field presents many theoretical, creative and strategic opportunities for scholars across the humanities and social sciences.


Tim Cresswell

Main Research Intereststimcresswell

  • Geographies of Mobility
  • Geographies of Place

Publications (selected)

  • Geographic Thought: A Critical Introduction. Hoboken: Wiley-Blackwell 2013.
  • Citizenship in worlds of mobility. In: Ola Soderstrom, Didier Ruedin, Shalini Randeria, Gianni D’Amato and Francesco Panese (eds.): Critical Mobilities. London: Routledge 2013.

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Social Ecology as Transdisciplinary Science of Societal Relations to Nature

12 December 2017

The discourse on sustainable development in the Anthropocene is, essentially, centered on the question of how the complex relations between society and nature can be conceptualized, analyzed, and shaped. In my lecture, I present a specific interpretation of social ecology as an attempt to address this question. The basic idea of Frankfurt social ecology is to put the modern distinction between nature and society at the start of a critical analysis. Theoretically, relationships between humans, society and nature are conceived as societal relations to nature. This concept focuses on patterns and modes of regulation, as well as on the entanglement of material-energetic and cultural-symbolic aspects of the relationship in different areas of action such land use, mobility, or water, energy and food supply. Using an approach that conceptualizes social-ecological systems as provisioning systems, I will show in which way theory and empirical research practice can be linked. Research that aims at contributing to sustainable development needs to integrate different kinds of scientific and non-scientific knowledge. It must combine scientific research with societal practice, in order to offer solutions for real-world problems while at the same time producing generalizable knowledge. Therefore, I will discuss transdisciplinarity as the research mode of choice for social ecology as a problem-oriented science.


Diana Hummeldianahummel

Main Research Interests

  • Concepts of societal relations to nature
  • Population dynamics, biodiversity and provisioning systems
  • Gender and environment

Publications (selected)

  • Hummel, Diana, Thomas Jahn, Florian Keil, Immanuel Stieß & Stefan Liehr (2017): Social Ecology as Critical, Transdisciplinary Science – Conceptualizing, Analyzing and Shaping Societal Relations to Nature. Sustainability 9(7), 1050
  • Diana Hummel & Immanuel Stieß (2017): Social Ecology. A transdisciplinary approach on Gender and Environment research. In: MacGregor, Sherilyn (Ed.): Routledge International Handbook on Gender and Environment. London/New York., 186-201;
  • Mehring, Marion/Barbara Bernard/Diana Hummel/Stefan Liehr/Alexandra Lux (2017): Halting biodiversity loss: how social-ecological biodiversity research makes a difference. International Journal of Biodiversity Science, Ecosystem Services & Management 13 (1), 172-180

Strange Narratives in Rhetorical Discourse

11 November 2017

During the last decade, narrative theory has seen a burst of interest in what has been called the nexus of mind and narrative (Herman 2013), carried forth by ideas of the similarities between understanding real life and understanding fiction (Zunshine 2007; Palmer 2010). This interest has been accompanied, and at times directly challenged, by an equally energetic interest in how experimental and strange narratives found in literature, film and other media may obstruct, subvert, or deconstruct real-world protocols for sense making by presenting readers with “strange” (Caracciolo 2016), “unreadable” (Abbott 2014), or “unnatural” phenomena (Richardson 2015; Alber 2016; Iversen 2013). The starting point for this talk is the observation that storytelling constellations that defy, test or mock everyday processes of sense-making also exist outside of the realms of generic fiction. Elaborating on a rhetorical reading of the concept of defamiliarization, the aim of the talk is to show that not only do experimental, strange and unnatural narratives materialize across contemporary public discourses; they also come to serve communicative functions. This will be shown trough readings of cases from a range of traditionally nonfictive rhetorical genres such as the discourse of humanitarianism, NGO-branding, protest movements and present-day political rhetoric.


Stefan Iversen

Main Research Interests

  • Narrativity and storytellingstefaniversen
  • Text theory and analysis
  • Rhetorical analysis

Publications (selected)

  • Interrogating Caribbean Masculinities: Theoretical and Empirical Analyses. St. Augustine: University of

    With Mikka Lene Pers-Højholt: Interlocking Narratives: The Personal Story and the Masterplot in Political Rhetoric. In: Narrativity, Fictionality and Factuality and the Staging of Identity. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2016.

  • Narrative. In: Mads Rosendahl Thomsen, Dan Ringgaard: Literature: An Introduction to Theory and Analysis. London: Bloomsbury, 2016

  • With Henrik Skov Nielsen: The Politics of Fictionality in The Act of Killing and The Ambassador. In: European Journal of English Studies, 2016.


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In Praise of Infrastructure

27 June 2017

“Infrastructure,” as comedian John Oliver points out, “is not sexy.” Only when infrastructures malfunction, when a bridge collapses, when a nuclear reactor melts down, or when a denial-of-service attack shuts down half the Internet, do these crucial everyday services receive any public attention.

The emerging field of “infrastructure studies” seeks to remedy this blind spot. At the nexus of urban planning, public policy, media studies, and the history of technology, the study of infrastructure addresses problems of scale, draws attention to the materiality of technology, and shifts the locus of critique from the nodes in a network to the connections between them. While recent studies have tended to focus on contemporary concerns, the field itself arguably has deeper roots in the venerable sciences of Verkehrswissenschaften, which studied the movements of people, goods, and messages in tandem.

After providing a comparative overview of these academic fields, the focus of this lecture will be on representations of infrastructure in modern German literature, especially the lyric genre. In contrast to the current inconspicuousness of infrastructure in the public sphere, the celebration of infrastructure in German modernity took the form of songs in praise of actual inventions, comic blame of impossible ones, and, above all, affirmations of the newly ascendant class of engineers. At the same time, the celebration of infrastructure may have amounted to little more than “700 intellectuals pray[ing] to an oil tanker,” as Bertolt Brecht cynically put it.

Ultimately, the aim of this lecture, in historicizing both infrastructure studies and the fascination with infrastructure, is to address a larger question: To what extent is cultural studies itself a form of infrastructure, an often inconspicuous but always vital means of connecting, and, even more importantly, maintaining the connections between different concerns?

Erik Borngcsc-anniversary-lectures.text.image10

Main Research Interests

  • The emergence of wireless technologies around 1900
  • Relations between old media and new media
  • The history of mysticism, interface design, and digital textbooks

Publications (selected)

  • Co-editor of Neighbors and Neighborhoods: Living Together in the German-Speaking World. United Kingdom: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2012.
  • Author of articles on early avant-garde films and medieval media theory.


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Being and Time-Management: Fictions of Opportunity Cost in the Long Age of Amazon

20 June 2017

To speak of literature in the Age of Amazon is perforce to speak of it in relation to consumerism and the consumer economy, these things, dating by most accounts to middle of the 18th century and exploding at the end of the 19th, of which is in some obvious ways the 21st  century apogee. While some very fine scholarly work has been done on the so-called culture of consumption, surprisingly little has been made of the revolution in economic theory it carried in train, the so-called neoclassical or Austrian or marginal revolution. It is in this body of thought, I will argue, that we encounter a concept crucial for illuminating both the reflexive self-construction of narrative fiction as a certain kind of consumer good, offering certain kinds of satisfaction, and the absolute limit to that self-construction owing to the nature of time. This is the concept of opportunity cost, and by showing its relevance both to 19th century psychological realism and early-20th century modernism, I hope in this lecture to lay the groundwork for a deeper understanding of the literature of the present.


Mark McGurl


Main Research Interests

  • American Literature
  • Modern and Postmodern literature
  • Literary Criticism/Theory

Publications (selected)

  • The Program Era: Postwar Fiction and the Rise of Creative Writing. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2009.
  • The Novel Art: Elevations of American Fiction after Henry James. New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2001.
  • Social Geometries: Taking Place in Henry James. California: University of California Press, 1999.


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