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GCSC Keynote Lectures

Die Vorlesungsreihe „GCSC Keynote Lectures“ orientiert sich an dem übergreifenden Thema „Current Approaches, Theories, and Key Concepts in the Study of Culture“. Die Teilnahme steht allen Interessierten offen. Um für das breite Spektrum der am GCSC repräsentierten Forschungsinteressen möglichst relevante Vortragsthemen anzubieten, richten die Vorträge, deren Schwerpunkt im Bereich aktueller kulturwissenschaftlicher Konzepte, Fragestellungen und Theorien liegt, sich grundsätzlich an eine interdisziplinäre Zuhörerschaft. Die Beiträge der Vorlesungsreihe orientieren sich inhaltlich an den Research Areas des GCSC und sollen diesen theoretische und methodologische Impulse geben.

GCSC Keynote Lecture Series:
Contact Zones in the Study of Culture


Winter Semester 2020/21

Maura Spiegel (Columbia University, USA)

Narrative Medicine at Work: Giving and Receiving Accounts of Self

  • Respondent: Dr. Burcu Alkan (University of Manchester, UK)

24.11.2020, 18-20, online



Maura Spiegel is a senior lecturer in the Department of English and Comparative Literature; Founder and Co-Director, CUIMC Division of Narrative Medicine


Click here for further information on research interests and publications





Burcu Alkan is an honorary research fellow at the University of Manchester. Her research topography covers a broad area that includes English, American, Turkish and World Literatures from a comparative perspective.


Click here for further information on research interests and publications.



Telling and listening are at the heart of the clinical encounter. Helping clinicians understand the co-constructed and situational complexity of that basic dynamic in healthcare is one of the many clinical applications of Narrative Medicine. This discussion will draw on a range of thinkers and fields, including Mikhail Bakhtin, John Dewey, Relational Psychoanalysis and Narrative Therapy to introduce the growing scholarly and clinical project of Narrative Medicine. 
Literary scholar Peter Parsisi observes that “[the] real object of literary study is not to bring readers a message, but to bring them into a mode of attention.”  Close reading of literary and other artistic work is the signature method in this field. Surprisingly, it is through shared experiences of this kind that clinicians discover new ways to encounter the intersubjective, narratological, and existential dimensions of those they treat –and of caregiving itself.


Richard Walsh (University of York, UK)

Complexity and Contingency in Narrative Cognition and Semiosis

15.12.2020, 18-20, online



Richard Walsh is a professor at the Department of English and Related Literature


Click here for further information on research interests and publications.


My case study for this talk, Ambrose Bierce’s “One of the Missing,” is literary fiction; my theoretical argument, however, is broader: it concerns narrative cognition as an elementary sensemaking resource, and how cultural forms of narrative negotiate with it in semiotic media. I want to suggest that contingency in fiction is a marker of the gap between the reductive but efficient sense-making of narrative and the unmanageable systemic complexity of experience. Narrative contingency, in other words, is symptomatic of the way our cognitive dependence upon a basic narrative logic strongly constrains how we understand complexity; but sophisticated cultural forms of narrative, including literary fiction, work to loosen these constraints – principally by exploiting two intrinsic features of narrative, which are its reflexiveness, and the irreducible narrative function of the implicit. Literary fiction chafes at the limits of narrative sense-making by subjecting narrative logic to the complex processes of its own articulation within a semiotic system, displacing interpretative interest from its sequential logic onto the circulation of meaning within the complex networks of signification that narrative itself cannot help generating. One of the effects of this reflexive movement, I suggest, is to continually confront narrative sense-making with the unassimilable in contingency, and so return it to the frontier of its encounter with phenomena, the threshold of emergent meaning where narrative cognition supervenes upon embodied experience.


Rolf Goebel (University of Alabama in Huntsville, USA)

Auditory Atmospheres: Music, Media Technologies, and Literary Representation 

Respondent: Prof. Dr. Britta Herrmann (University of Münster)

12.01.2021, 18-20, online



Rolf Goebel is an emeritus professor at the Department of World Languages and Cultures


Click here for further information on research interests and publications.




Britta Herrmann is a professor for Modern German Literature and spokesperson for the Graduate School Practices of Literature

Click here for further information on research interests and publications.



What is the status of the literary representation of music in the age of media-technological reproducibility? In our digital age, computers and earphones allow the listener to experience the bodily affective immersion in a seemingly limitless cyberspace of music files, whose aura they can project back onto their surroundings, transforming reality into resonant projection screens of their own fantasies, desires, and aesthetic sentiments. The possibilities and limitations of these digitally mediated atmospheres open up a new understanding of the literary representation of musical experiences by high-modernist writers.
A  comparison between Thomas Mann's description of the production of musical entrancement by the fashionable gramophone in Der Zauberberg and Georg Trakl's poetic exploration of the Orpheus myth in "Passion" reveals a hidden conflict in early 20th century culture between state-of-the-art media-technological reproducibility and a seemingly anachronistic exploration of "live" or "real-time" musical atmospheres whose immersive affect and hermeneutic meanings exceed  the acoustic data storage capacities of technological media while allowing themselves to be represented authentically by the literary imagination. Theoretical work on technological media (W. Benjamin and F. Kittler), the phenomenology of atmospheres (H. Schmitz, G. Böhme, T.  Griffero) and sonic resonances (H. Rosa) will be brought together to explore this largely uncharted territory encompassing sound studies, philosophy, and literary criticism.


Katrin Pahl (Johns Hopkins University, USA) & Uwe Wirth (JLU Gießen)

Grafts, Grafting, and Cultural Contact Zones 

02.02.2021, 18-20, online





Katrin Pahl is an associate professor for German at the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures 


Click here for further information on research interests and publications.





Uwe Wirth holds the chair for German Literature and Cultural Theory at the German Department


Click here for further information on research interests and publications.

Improbable Intimacy: Otobong Nkanga’s Grafts (Katrin Pahl)

As part of a larger research project on treatments of sexualized and gendered violence in contemporary performance art, post-dramatic theater, dramatic literature and multi-media art practice, this piece turns to Otobong Nkanga’s installations and performances in order to probe those patterns of violence within the larger assemblage in which they participate, specifically colonial, racist and ecological violence. Through the lens of Nkanga’s artwork, I will explore what it takes to materialize as kin in unseen, and unheard-of forms of kinship beyond anthropocentrism such as human-vegetal grafts. Attending not only to the material logic of these operations and desires to graft but also to their emotional logic, I will explore self-grafting with regard to the histories of colonialism and sexualized violence sedimented in bodies and psyches.
In her artwork, the Nigerian-born artist who is based in Antwerp but has extensively explored Germany’s involvement in the global circulation of raw material and human bodies from its colonial past to its current role in the globalized world, concentrates on objects and environments that trigger memories, thoughts and feelings. She researches the variety of different uses that have turned these objects, living things, or environments into so-called “natural resources” and explores the multitude of cultural meaning connected to them, and then creates alternative networks of circulation and intimacy. Plants and stones are the main subjects or vectors of memory, exploration and projected circulation in Nkanga’s oeuvre. Her attention to plants, her incorporation of them in installations and performances, and her use of plant shapes in drawings and paintings is not meant metaphorically. Instead, her work reflects on the global movement of plant-based matter and creates the (physical and emotional/affective) space that allows for a communication with plants.


After Hybridity: Grafting as a Model for Cultural Translation (Uwe Wirth)

The notion of cultural translation as it was developed by postcolonial studies attempts to cope not only with the foreignness of language, but also with 'the other' as a foreigner. In order to overcome various shades of 'othering,' Homi Bhabha and other postcolonial theorists have conceptualized interactions between different cultures as processes of hybridization. 
I would like to propose an alternative model for describing processes of cultural translation, namely the model of grafting that has been used not only by Jacques Derrida as a metaphor for textual cut and paste operations, but also by Johann Gottfried Herder and Friedrich Schleiermacher for the purpose of coming to terms with the foreignness of other languages as well as other cultures. I will try to apply the results of my presentation to a notion of contact zone that also takes into account the contact zones of grafting.


Hideaki Fujiki (Nagoya University, Japan)

Ecological Reality as Contesting Global Imaginations: Documentary on Radioactive Waste Documentaries

16.02.2021, 16-18 (!), online



Hideaki Fujiki is a professor for the Japan-In-Asia Cultural Studies program


Click here for further information on research interests and publications.


Documentary is not simply a neutral medium to record reality. Rather, it participates in the social imaginations of reality as a contested terrain. This paper discusses how documentaries activate the imaginations of radioactive waste. While many documentaries and scholarly discourses have tended to localize and nationalize the issues of radiation since the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Accident, radiation is fundamentally a global matter in that it is produced and distributed through the transnational network from the front end (uranium mining) to the back end (nuclear waste disposal), is supported by the economic and political worldwide network, and may damage the entire earth. Moreover, supposed that the only way to dispose radioactive waste is to bury it in the deeply excavated repository (1,710 feet underground in the case of Onkalo, Finland), radioactive waste literally and symbolically epitomizes the Anthropocene, the geological epoch in which humans have intervened in the planet to a significant degree. But, at the same time, this very abstract and gigantic nature makes it difficult for us to imagine radioactive waste. It is against this background that documentaries have played vital roles in bringing concrete imaginations about the social and ecological reality. Taking Waste: The Nuclear Nightmare (Éric Guéret, 2009) and Charka (Shimada Kei, 2017), among others, for case studies, I will explore how these documentaries alike problematize radioactive waste but evoke different imaginations of it. It is particularly interesting to see how a film shows radioactive waste as the otherwise invisible global material and institutional reality in which radioactive waste are unevenly distributed so that privileged people can enjoy their electric lives by at once exploiting and marginalizing other people near these sites.

Winter Semester 2019 / 2020

Johanna Schaffer (Kunsthochschule Kassel) & Isabel Paehr (Berlin)

Ambivalences of Visibility (Revised)

12.11.2019, 18-20, room 001, MFR


Johanna Schaffer, Professor for the Theory and Practice of Visual Communication at Kunsthochschule Kassel,



Isabel Paehr is involved in the production and arrangement of virtual matter. She develops experimental games and material speculations, performs, writes and codes in collaborative working groups.

Main Research Interests

  • Political Dimensions of Aesthetic Processes
  • Code and generative, virtual materials
  • Lo-fi tech and programmed interventions into dominant network structures

Publications (selected)

  • With Dertnig, C.; Ferfoglia, S.; Holert, T.; Pichler, H.; Porsch, J.; Seibold, S. and Stockburger, A. (eds.): Troubling Research: Performing Knowledge in the Arts. Sternberg Press 2014.

  • “Formlos, wie Spucke”. In: Mader, R.: Radikal Ambivalent. Engagement und Verantwortung in den Künsten heute. Diaphanes 2014, 209-222.

  • With Mlangeni, S. and Bavyka, J.: “From the distance, closer: A conversation”. In: Mlangeni, S.: postapart/heid communities. Academy of Fine Arts Vienna 2014

  • With Meiners, J.: Webcamera Obscura in The Additivist Cookbook, edited by Morehshin Allahyari and

    Daniel Rourke,, 2016
  • With Huntemann, M.; Röder, J.: Invisible Machines in Privacy Arena, Kassel University Press, 2017


The book ‘Ambivalences of Visibility’, that Johanna published in 2008, was above all a plea to engage with the forms of specific representations, and not with questions of quantity (‘more visibility for…’). For, as Peggy Phelan has argued, if there were a causal connection between visual representability and political power, then in the liberal democracies of the West, young, scantily-clad heteronormative female performing persons would necessarily have quite a bit of power. In our changed media realities we need to rethink the analytical/political usefulness of the concept ‘visibility,’ for in digital media realities visibility (= views = monetization) almost entirely loses its oppositional connotations. If ‘visibility’ is a concept that belongs to historically specific media realities and their critical languages, what can be learned from them for our current examinations? We also would like to suggest some other terms along the lines of ‘distributed agency’ and ‘infrastructure’ in order to discuss crucial interventions in the field of digital visuality and data rich environments.


Rita Felski (University of Virginia)

Hooked: Art and Attachment

19.11.2019, 18-20, room 012, Alter Steinbacher Weg 44


Professor at the Department of English at the University of Virginia, USA

Main Research Interests

  • Comparative and Transnational Studies
  • Literary Theory
  • Modernity and Postmodernity
  • Literary Criticism

Publications (selected)

  • With Anker, Elizabeth (ed.): Critique and Postcritique. Duke University Press 2017.
  • The Limits of Critique. University of Chicago Press 2015.
  • Literature after Feminism. University of Chicago Press 2003.


My talk makes a case for “attachment” as a key word for the humanities. The word directs our attention to what carries weight: it has both affective and ethical force. Drawing on a range of examples, I discuss two important aesthetic ties: identification and attunement. Finally, I clarify how the language of attachment is relevant to pedagogy and to practices of interpretation in the classroom.


Mary Neuburger (University of Texas at Austin)

Meat Unpacked: Global Protein Narratives and the Making of a 20th century Bulgarian Bio-imaginary

03.12.2019, 18-20, room 001, MFR


Professor at the Department of History at the University of Texas at Austin, USA

Main Research Interests

  • Southeastern Europe

  • Urban Culture and Consumption

  • Gender and Nationalism

Publications (selected)

  • Balkan Smoke: Tobacco and the Making of Modern Bulgaria. Cornell University Press 2015.

  • With Bren, Paulina (ed.): Communism Unwrapped: Consumption in Cold War Eastern Europe. Oxford University Press 2012.


This talk will explore the place of meat within the larger framework of global encounters between East and West, before and during the Cold War.  It will explore evolving connections (imagined and real) of meat—its mass production and regular consumption—to progress, and more pointedly, political and economic power. Consumption of meat expanded exponentially in the US, Europe and globally particularly after World War II, reflecting changes in commerce and taste, but also given new assumptions about the role of protein in twentieth century development narratives. Influential writings and polices grounded in the scientific community and international organizations like the League of Nations, the United Nations, the Food and Agriculture Organization, and the World Health Organization posited that a lack of animal protein in “national” diets was both the cause and the effect of underdevelopment, which was tantamount to “hidden hunger” and even a global “protein crisis”. As the talk will explore, however, such notions competed with global counter-narratives grounded in bio-ethics, biopolitics, religious practice, and/or differing opinions within food science. Using the capacious concept of the bio-imaginary, I will explore how such narratives were appropriated and deflected in the course of 20th century Bulgarian history, before and under socialism. Bulgarians appropriated both pro- and anti-meat assumptions from global religious, scientific, and policy-minded thinkers. They also domesticated and contributed to this global conversation and set of practices in a range of locally grounded ways. This took on particular forms under socialism, when Soviet-dictated food ideology required an embrace of meat—as fortification for the socialist body, as well as nutritional and gastronomic proof of the superiority of the system’s utopian promise. Even then, anti-meat narratives emerged as part of the Bulgarian “thaw”.


Erin James (University of Idaho)

Narrative in the Anthropocene

10.12.2019, 18-20, room 001, MFR


Associate Professor at the Department of English at the University of Idaho, USA

Main Research Interests

  • Ecocriticism
  • Narrative Theory
  • Postcolonial Theory

Publications (selected)

  • “What the Plant Says: Plant Narrators and the Ecosocial Imaginary”. In: Vieira, P.; Gagliano, M. and Ryan, J. (eds.): The Language of Plants: Science, Philosophy, Literature. University of Minnesota Press 2017[JK1] .
  • Storyworld Accord. Econarratology and Postcolonial Narratives. University of Nebraska Press 2015.
  • "Teaching the Postcolonial Ecocritical Dialogue." In: Garrard, G. (ed.): Teaching Ecocriticism and Green Cultural Studies. Palgrave Macmillian 2012.




Wendy Bracewell (University College London) & Leyla von Mende (University of Jena)

(In)Sights on Europe from the (Near) East

28.01.2020, 18-20, room 001, MFR


Wendy Bracewell

Professor of South East European History at the University College London, UK

Leyle von Mende

Researcher in the DFG-funded research project “The press as a (trans-)local space of communication. Istanbul’s Arabic press, 1860s-1920s”

Main Research Interests

  • Travel Writing
  • Nationalism and Gender
  • Modern History and Historiography

Publications by Wendy Bracewell (selected)

  • With Drace-Francis, Alex (ed.). Balkan Departures: Travel Writing from Southeastern Europe. New York/Oxford: Berghahn 2009.
  • Orientations: An Anthology of East European Travel Writing., ca 1550-2000. Budapest: CEU Press 2009.
  • With Drace-Francis, Alex (ed.). Under Eastern Eyes: A Comparative Introduction to East European Travel Writing on Europe. Central European University Press 2008.

Publications by Leyla von Mende (selected)

  • „Necmeddīn ʿĀrif: Studying in Paris (Egypt, 1904/05)”. In: Bentlage, Björn; Eggert, Marion; Krämer, Hans Martin; Reichmuth, Stefan (eds.). Religious Dynamics under the Impact of Imperialism and  Colonialism. A Sourcebook. Leiden/Boston: Brill 2016, S. 160-171.
  • „Tahsīl rehberi as a Source for Both the Traveler and the Historian”. In: Agai, Bekim; Akyıldız, Olcay; Hillebrand, Caspar (eds.). Venturing beyond Borders. Reflections on Genre, Function and Boundaries in  Middle Eastern Travel Writing. Würzburg: Ergon Verlag 2013, S. 159-177.
  • „Europäisierungsmißstände“ um 1900. Eine Kurzgeschichte des osmanischen Schriftstellers Ahmet Hikmet Müftüoğlu“. In: Themenportal Europäische Geschichte 2011.


Accounts of travels from Western and Central Europe to Eastern Europe haven been an object of academic research for a rather long time. These travel accounts have played a significant role in the formation of “mental maps” as scholars have demonstrated with regard to notions of “Eastern Europe” (Wolff) and collective imaginations of the “Balkans” (Todorova) as well as cultural constructions of “Europe” more generally. Recent scholarship has drawn attention to dynamic identity formations in the context of these encounters and, more specifically, the role of perceptions of Europe from alternate viewpoints. While the perception of Germany in Russia has been studied (e.g. Kopelew), the perspectives from south eastern directions have received less scholarly attention so far. In our master class we will discuss perceptions of Western and Central Europe and specifically perceptions of South European states in the eyes of travellers from the Ottoman Empire and Turkey.


Winter Term 2018 / 2019

Anne Waldschmidt (University of Cologne, Germany)

The Cultural Model of Dis/ability as an Analytical Tool. Key Assumptions, Strengths, and Weaknesses

13.11.2018, 18-20, room 001, MFR

Anne Waldschmidt

University Lecturer for Sociology and Politics of Rehabilitation and Disability Studies

Main Research Interests

  • Bio-Politics and Autonomy

  • Normality, Deviance, and Disability

  • Sociology of the Body

Publications (selected)

  • With Müller, Arne: Barrierefreie Dienstleistungen – Benachteiligungen von behinderten Menschen beim Zugang zu Dienstleistungen privater Unternehmen. Expertise der Universität zu Köln, Humanwissenschaftliche Fakultät, Soziologie und Politik der Rehabilitation, Disability Studies. Antidiskriminierungsstelle des Bundes, 2012.
  • Selbstbestimmung als Konstruktion. Alltagstheorien behinderter Frauen und Männer. Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften), 2012.
  • With Berressem, Hanjo and Ingwersen, Moritz: Culture – Theory – Disability. Encounters between Disability Studies and Cultural Studies. Bielefeld: transcript 2017.


Drawing on the approach of disability studies this lecture claims the relevance of culture as an analytical category for the study of disability. It starts with differentiating several fields of research that focus on disability; then it explores the notion of culture. Next, it appreciates the social model of disability, sketches its history and resulting debates. It also provides an overview on earlier attempts of conceptualizing a cultural studies approach to disability. Further, it offers an analytical perspective that uses the concept of ‘dis/ability,’ analyses impairment, disability and normality as ‘empty signifiers,’ views dis/ability as naturalized and embodied difference, and understands this category as effected by symbolic orders, bodily practices and social institutions. Additionally, referring to the debate on independent living for persons with disabilities as an example, the lecture will highlight the heuristic value of the cultural model of dis/ability for both research and practice by describing guiding questions resulting from individual, social, and cultural models of disability. It concludes by discussing possible pitfalls of a cultural studies approach to dis/ability.

Vanessa Andreotti (University of British Columbia, Canada)

The Enduring Educational Challenges of Setting Horizons of Hope Beyond Modern-Colonial Imaginaries

04.12.2018, 18-20, room 001, MFR

Vanessa Andreotti

Professor at the Department of Educational Studies at the University of British Columbia, Canada

Main Research Interests

  • Education for/about International Development
  • Global Citizenship Education
  • Ethics of Internationalization

Publications (selected)

  • With Stein, S., Sutherland, A., Pashby, K., Susa, R., Amsler, S.: “Mobilising Different Conversations about Global Justice in Education: Toward Alternative Futures in Uncertain Times.” In: Policy & Practice: A Development Education Review, 26(Spring) 2018, 9-41.
  • With Kerr, Jeannie: “Recognizing More-Than-Human Relations in Social Justice Research: Gesturing towards Decolonial Possibilities.” In: Issues in Teacher Education 27(2) 2018, 53-67.
  • Witch Stein, S., Hunt, D., Susa, R.: “The Educational Challenge of Unraveling the Fantasies of Ontological Security.” In: Diaspora, Indigenous, and Minority Education, 11(2) 2017, 69-79.


As societies face unprecedented challenges that are global in scope and “wicked” in nature, the usual educational response has been to emphasize the need for more knowledge, better policies, and more compelling arguments, in order to effectively convince more people to change their convictions, and, as a consequence, their behaviour. My research collective has been experimenting with a different educational orientation that does not see the problems of the present primarily as rooted in a methodological challenge of better strategies (i.e. the call for more effective policies and communications), nor an epistemological challenge of knowing (i.e. the call for more data, information or perspectives).  Rather, we propose that the problems are rooted in an ontological challenge of being (i.e. the call to address how we exist in relation to each other and the planet). From this educational orientation, the problems lies in the universalization of a modern/colonial imaginary that creates intellectual, affective and relational economies that invisibilize the violences that subsidize modern/colonial systems, and that hide their inherent unsustainability. The modern/colonial approach to education has left us unprepared and unwilling to address our complicity in systemic social and ecological harm, and to set our horizons of hope beyond what is intelligible and desirable within it. In this talk, I will share some of the social cartographies, analyses and experiments of the “Gesturing towards decolonial futures” collective and the “In Earth’s CARE” network of social-ecological innovations focused on transformative justice.

Harry Lehmann (Berlin, Germany)

Conceptual Art and Music. Conceptualism as a Hot Contact Zone of the Arts

11.12.2018, 18-20, room 001, MFR

Harry Lehmann

Philosopher of Music, Berlin

Main Research Interests

  • Music Philosophy
  • Art Philosophy
  • Systems Theory

Publications (selected)

  • “Digitization and Concept: A Thought Experiment Concerning New Music.” In: Search. Journal for New Music and Culture, Issue no. 7 2010, 1-14.
  • With Ullrich, Wolfgang: “Why the Socialist States Have Failed in Respect of Design.” In: Villa Sovietica. Soviet Objects: Import-Export. Musée d’ethnographie de Genève 2009, 175-183.
  • “Avant-garde Today. A Theoretical Model of Aesthetic Modernity.” In: Critical Composition Today. Hofheim: Wolke 2006, 9-42.


Contemporary art describes itself very often as “conceptual.” However, what exactly does it mean? Usually, these artworks in question have little in common with the prime examples of Conceptual Art from the 1960th. It is of paramount importance for art theory today to have a clear understanding and a clear notion of the conceptual character of the arts. In my lecture, I would like to present a model of Conceptualism which allows to integrate into this model such different pieces like “One and Three Chairs” by Joseph Kosuth and the “Fettstuhl” by Joseph Beuys, or, in respect to music, 4’33’’ by John Cage and “Pendulum Music” by Steve Reich. Conceptual art arose in opposition toward the aesthetics of classical modernism. Conceptual artists tried to show that art can be separated from any aesthetic experience and reduced to one single idea. Nevertheless, the anesthetic character is not the decisive criteria for Conceptualism. My thesis is that Conceptual Music and Conceptual Art are based on the principle of an isomorphic mapping between idea and work. On the one hand, the idea of the artwork manifest itself entirely in the piece, and on the other hand, every perceivable aspect of the artwork is a representation of that idea.

Sophie Ratcliffe (University of Oxford, England)

Reading Well. The Trials of Bibliotherapy and the Hospital Library as Contact Zone

18.12.2018, 18-20, room 001, MFR

Sophie Ratcliffe

Professor at the Department of English Language and Literature at the University of Oxford, England

Main Research Interests

  • Medical Humanities
  • Literature and Emotion
  • Nineteenth Century Literature

Publications (selected)

  • “The Trouble with Feeling Now: Thomas Woolner, Robert Browning, and the Touching Case of Constance and Arthur.” In: 19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century. 2016(23).
  • “The Episodic Trollope and An Editor's Tales.” In: Victorian Studies, Vol. 58(1) 2015, 57-83.
  • “The Condition of England Novel.” In: Discovering Literature, British Library Website, 2014.


Taking the idea of the hospital library as a central case study, this lecture draws on the spaces between medicine and the humanities, particularly the different ways of reading and knowing that seem inherent in each discipline. The notion of reading to get well, or ‘bibliotherapy’ is broadly established in current usage in the social sciences and humanities, but the word’s first appearance, in an issue of the Atlantic Monthly magazine in 1916 was meant as a joke. Something of this vulnerability remains on both a micro and macro level, as arts-based interventions try to justify themselves in medical contexts, and in the precarious status of the humanities in a global funding context geared towards the sciences.

A study of the East London Children’s Hospital library catalogue, which survives from the nineteenth century, is thought-provoking in the light of these contemporary questions. While we can recover something of Victorian reading habits and mores from looking at the archival material, this lecture will reflect on the difficulty of reading this (or any) hospital library space ‘well’. Articulating and placing a use-vale on a space which is, both ‘under-theorized’ (Nethersole, 2011) and riven by affective forces may be an impossible and counterproductive task. The lecture will conclude with reflections on possibilities for public engagement for those in the humanities – particularly the difficulties of translating ideas of affect and anecdote in a world dominated by measurement and evidence.

André Keet (Nelson Mandela University, South Africa)

Racism’s Knowledge/Culture. Is a Critical Decolonial Project Possible?

22.01.2019, 18-20, room 001, MFR

Andre Keet

Professor at the Department of Critical Studies in Higher Education Transformation at Nelson Mandela University, South Africa

Main Research Interests

  • Human Rights and Critical Human Rights Education
  • Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Processes
  • Equity and Social Justice in Higher Education

Publications (selected)

  • “Does Human Rights Education Exist?” In: International Journal of Human Rights Education 1(1) 2017.

  • With Sattardazeh, Sahar D. and Munene, Anne: “An Awkward, Uneasy (De)Coloniality. Higher Education and Knowledge Otherwise.” In: Education as Change 21(1) 2017, 1-12.

  • With Nel, Willy: Rights, Regulation and Recognition: Studying Student Leaders’ Experiences of Participation and Citizenship within a South African University.” In: International Journal of Educational Sciences 13(1) 2016, 129-144.


Knowledge belongs to racism, and this proprietary relationship exercise steering power over cultural meaning-making processes. This is the straightforward thesis I am exploring here. Though the racism-knowledge nexus and its expression within scholarship and the academy has been a topic of academic interest for many decades, it has been dominated by debates on how racism ‘frames’ knowledge that centers the white, western subject. Another prevailing trend focuses on racism within the disciplines and its disciples, the academy, and the reproductive racialized outcomes of university education. However, my argument, is not simply that racism is inscribed into knowledge systems, but that racism provides the conceptual and pragmatic coordinates for knowledge. This disorder, so I suggest, needs to be tackled head-on to unburden the considerable possibilities for a critical, decolonial knowledge project.

Summer Term 2018

Frans Willem Korsten (Leiden University, Netherlands)

Empathy and Violence: The Chiasma of Politics and Law

17.04.2018, 18-20, room 001, MFR


Senior University Lecturer at the Department of Literary Studies

Main Research Interests

  • Rhetoric (Classical and Modern)
  • Literature and Politics
  • Politico-Cultural Organization of Europe

Publications (selected)

  • “Poet/healer/judge: Literature as cicatrix – the case of Maria Dermoût’”. In: Grave, Jaap; Honings, Rick; Noak, Bettina (eds.): Illness and Literature in the Low Contries: From the Middle Ages until the 21st Century. Göttingen: V&R Unipres 2016, 181-198.

  • “The comedic sublime in a dynamic of worlds: the work of Frans Hals in a Dutch Baroque”. In: Journal of Historians of Netherlandish Art 8(2): 1-24, 2016.

  • With Zeeuw T.L. de: “Towards a New Judicial Scene for Humans and Animals: Two Modes of Hypocrisy”. In: Law and Literature 27(1): 23-47, 2015.


My argument starts with two different readings of George Eliot’s Daniel Deronda by two scholars who have a radically different idea on the force and goal of empathic reading: Martha Nussbaum and Sara Ahmed. The former bases her argument on a human subject that is coherent, stable and through an ethical mode of reading literature is able to place herself in the position of someone else. The latter takes willful, unstable, swerving subjects as her point of departure, who find themselves oppressed in such a way that the very idea of their having a will of their own is made impossible. Nussbaum is looking for an underpinning of justice on some sort of common human ground, while Ahmed accepts the irreconcilability of positions, or the principal impossibility of a common ground. Focusing on the ways in which both authors employ radically different strategies of empathy, I ask what the goals of empathic reading could be in a juridico-political context. Here, I trace a chiastic relation between politics and law that is of relevance at times in which politics is turning more and more into a power game propelled by emotions and the force of law is threatened by parties demanding that their emotions be served.

Bärbel Küster (University of Zurich, Switzerland)

Dialogic Principles in Cultural and Visual Studies

24.04.2018, 18-20, room 001, MFR


Professor for Modern and Contemporary Art at the Department of Art History at the University of Zurich, Switzerland

Main Research Interests

  • Art in Public Spaces
  • Theory and History of Museums
  • Transcultural Art History

Publications (selected)

  • „Die Zeitdimension der Wiederholung. Prozessästhetik bei Henri Matisse“. In: Krieger, Verena und Stang, Sophia (eds.): Wiederholungstäter. Die Selbstwiederholung als künstlerische Praxis in der Moderne. Köln, Weimar, Wien: Böhlau 2017, 81-94.

  • “Over-Exposed. Modern European Painting and J.F. Willumsen Seen Through the Light of Photography/Overeksponeret. Moderne europæisk maleri og J.F. Willumsen set i lyset af fotografiet.“ In: Rank Schelde, Jeanne und Pennington, Lise (eds.): Ausst. Kat. Wild, Bold and Late Willumsen/Den vilde, vovede og sene Willumsen, AroS Aarhus Kunstmuseum. 2016, 186-199.

    „Gesten des Dokumentierens – Archive des Scheiterns. Fotoalben der Kolonialzeit“. In: Schmidt, Sarah (ed.): Sprachen des Sammelns. München: Wilhelm Fink Verlag 2016, 363-388.


After Cultural and Visual Studies long time analysed representation, hegemonial power relations and identity, the field of dialogic principles had turned into a main discussion area in the last years. But disciplinary focuses on dialogic principles differ significantly within the field of Cultural and Visual Studies. While questions of participartory practices in research techniques have been raised in ethnology and anthropology since the 1960s and then from the 1980s on in museum studies, art history has widened its perspective to global arts and transcultural perpectives but recently. Here, participatory methodologies and dialogic principles of spoken sources are rarely reflected. One of the most central tools of contemporary art history – the artist interview – has never been questioned in its transcultural implications. The lecture aims to question methodological differences between the disciplines. Dialogic knowledge production in academic research, indeed, is a relatively new topic, that still has to be discussed – especially on an institutional level.

Randall Halle (University of Pittsburgh, United States)

Framework for a Critical European Culture Studies

15.05.2018, 18-20, room 001, MFR


Professor of German Film and Cultural Studies at the University of Pittsburgh, United States

Main Research Interests

  • (Un)Popular Culture
  • Visual Alterity

Publications (selected)

  • The Europeanization of Cinema: Interzones and Imaginative Communities. Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 2014.

  • German Film after Germany: Toward a Transnational Aesthetic. Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 2008.

  • After the Avant-garde: New Directions in Experimental Film. Rochester: Camden House Press, 2008.


Over a long history, Europe and culture are interwoven as terms. And within the contemporary context of European Unionization, the complex connection of the two has taken on new forms. The EU project is a singular project because it strives for economic, political, and cultural union. The globe is crisscrossed by free market-oriented projects to foster economic union, as well as supranational organizations that strive to accomplish various forms of political agreement. Only in the space of Europe does the project include a cultural component and of the three aspirational dynamics that drive European unification, culture remains both the least studied and yet the most compelling of the three. Nevertheless, Europe is not the EU, nor is culture equivalent to the current EU culture industry policy. This presentation will propose a framework for critical studies of European culture through attention to each of the terms: critical, Europe, and culture. Such a framework helps us better answer a number of questions. How do we approach culture in this political and economic context? How do we assess the European commercialization of cultural heritage? How does the striving for transnational cultural union differ from that cultural union produced in the nation state? In what way does the contemporary understanding of Europe call forth new histories? Among others.

Cornelius Borck (University of Lübeck, Germany)

How to Engage Critically and Responsibly with Cultural Neuroscience?

29.05.2018, 18-20, room 001, MFR


Professor for History, Theory and Ethics of Medicine and Science at the University of Lübeck

Main Research Interests

  • Medical Visualization Strategies
  • Contemporary Medical History
  • Epistemology of the Plain in Science and Art

Publications (selected)

  • “How We May Think: Imaging and Writing Technologies Across the History of the Neurosciences”. In: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 57, 2016, 112-120.
  • „Im Bilde sein. Selbstverhältnisse der Hirnforschung in wissenschaftshistorischer Perspektive.“ In: Phänomenologische Forschungen 2015, 9-31.

  • "Die Weisheit der Homöostase und die Freiheit des Körpers. Walter B. Cannons integrierte Theorie des Organismus." In: Zeithistorische Forschungen 11(3) 2014, 472-477.


Since a couple of years, the new sub-discipline of cultural neuroscience announces the neurosciences to be ready to address and investigate the fabric of culture in its relation to its natural substrates. Especially the means of functional imaging are mobilized to show intricate differences and similarities among the neurophysiological basis of highly specific cultural tasks. Is cultural neuroscience a new and viable approach bridging between nature and culture – or rather a problematic example for the dominance of neuro-talk? And what can be a productive role of cultural studies in critiquing its more problematic aspects?

Tanvi Solanki (Cornell University, New York, United States)

Cultural Acoustics: Sound Studies and the Study of Culture

12.06.2018, 18-20, room 001, MFR


Postdoctoral Associate at the Department of German Studies at Cornell University, United States

Main Research Interests

  • 17th to 19th Century German Literature and Philology
  • Theories and Practices of Reading
  • Digital Humanities

Publications (selected)

  • “Sounding Culture from the Pulpit.” In: Couturier-Heinrich, Clémence (ed.): Revue Germanique Internationale. (Forthcoming 2018, in French)

  • “Cultural Hierarchies and Vital Tones: The Making of Herder’s ‘Mother Tongue.’” In: Gramling, David and Wiggin, Bethany (eds.): German Studies Review 41.3, 2017. (Forthcoming)

  • “A Book of Living Paintings: Tableaux Vivants in Goethe’s Die Wahlverwandtschaften (1809).” In: Daub, Adrian and Krimmer, Elisabeth: Goethe Yearbook 23, 2016, 245-270.


Without doubt, Sound Studies has become a burgeoning field for rich, eminently interdisciplinary initiatives in the humanities. One of the major contributions of the field has been to mark out the neglect in theories of medial modernity that focus entirely on various kinds of visual culture and their historicity. What I call "cultural acoustics," while under the broad rubric of sound studies, specifically draws attention to the potent role that acoustic practices could play in distinguishing, comparing, establishing, and dispersing cultures, whether scientific, musical, political, national, trans-national, or religiously bound. Examples include the work of Ana Maria Ochoa on listening and knowledge in nineteenth-century Colombia, Jonathan Sterne’s work on the centrality of sound, hearing, and listening to the “cultural life of modernity,” or Charles Hirschkind’s on the “ethical listening” of sermons and its role in the social and political transformations in Egypt. In my talk, I will use my own research on eighteenth-century Europe to discuss the key role played by listening practices and conceptions of sound in formative ideas of culture, nation, and anthropology and what these findings offer to the contemporary study of culture.

Thomas Claviez (University of Bern, Switzerland)

The Road Not Taken: Ethics, Reciprocity, and Non-Negative Non-Agency

19.06.2018, 18-20, room 001, MFR


Professor of Literary Theory and Director of the Department of English

Main Research Interests

  • Theories of Community
  • Ethics and Otherness
  • Cosmopolitanism and World Literature

Publications (selected)

  • Editor of The Common Growl: Toward a Poetics of Precarious Community. New York: Fordham UP, 2016.
  • Editor of The Conditions of Hospitality. Ethics, Politics, and Aesthetics on the Threshold of the Possible. New York: Fordham UP, 2013.

  • Aesthetics & Ethics: Otherness and Moral Imagination from Aristotle to Levinas and from Uncle Tom’s Cabin to House Made of Dawn. Heidelberg: Winter, 2008.


The term “agency” has played – and still plays – a rather strange role in our moral philosophies in general, and in ecocriticism specifically, as it represents one term of one binary that has proven almost indeconstructable: that of activity and passivity. It is hardly possible to turn around – let alone overcome – the highly normatively charged connotations of these two terms, which would be a first step to deconstruct this binary. I will, in a first step, try to draw out the implications – both linguistically and ethically – of the fact that we are not able to formulate a non-negative concept of the contrary to "acting" or "agency", and relate this fact to two key terms in the moral philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas: that of passivity and that of irreciprocity. In a second one, I will try to gauge the implications this has for traditional moral philosophy, arguing that our incapability to disentangle agency from moral subjecthood has severe repercussions for our thinking of ethics. In a last part, I will reconnect these thoughts to one of the most influential theories in posthumanism: Bruno Latour's "Actors Network Theory."

Winter Term 2017 / 2018

Stefan Iversen (Aarhus University, Denmark)

Strange Narratives in Rhetorical Discourse

14.11.2017, 18-20, room 001, MFR


Associate Professor at the Department for Aesthetics and Communication at Aarhus University, Denmark

Main Research Interests

  • Narrativity and storytelling
  • 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.


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.


Michael Hagner (ETH Zurich, Switzerland)

Image and Knowledge - A Liaison Postmoderne?

(!) Wednesday, 22.11.2017, 18-20, room 001, MFR


Professor for Science Studies at ETH Zürich, Switzerland

Main Research Interests

  • Historical epistemology of human sciences
  • Relations between art and science
  • History of cybernetics

Publications (selected)

  • With Erich Hörl (eds.): Die Transformation des Humanen. Beiträge zur Kulturgeschichte der Kybernetik. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp 2007.
  • Zur Sache des Buches. Göttingen: Wallstein 2015.
  • Der Hauslehrer. Die Geschichte eines Kriminalfalls. Erziehung, Sexualität und Medien um 1900. Berlin: Suhrkamp 2010.


It is a truism that history of science and – more generally – cultural studies was not interested in the role of visualisation in the process of knowledge production before the 1990s. Knowledge, it was said, was often produced without and sometimes with images, but in principle they were regarded as marginal. Why did the situation change so profoundly? In my lecture, I shall argue that the rise of images is part and parcel of the postmodern condition. My main point is not that this condition is characterized by an aesthetization of the world, but by a combination of new digital technologies of producing images and a new understanding of the status of knowledge. I will analyse the postmodern status of image and knowledge by focussing on the work of Lyotard and Latour, and then interpret neuroimaging as a paradigmatic case for the new regime of visualisation.


Prof. Bernhard Giesen (University of Konstanz, Germany)

Heroes, Perpetrators, Cultural Trauma and the Issue of Intransparency

05.12.2017, 18-20, room 001, MFR


Professor for Macrosociology at the University of Konstanz, Germany

Main Research Interests

  • Historic-comparative analysis of public opinion and collective identity on a national level

  • Sociological analysis of intellectual discourse rituals

  • Analysis of national rituals of commemoration

Publications (selected)

  • With J. C. Alexander, R. Eyermann, N. Smelser and P. Sztompka: Cultural Trauma and Collective Identity. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press 2014.
  • With J.C. Alexander and D. Bartmanski (eds.): Iconic Power - Materiality and Meaning in Social Life. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan 2012.
  • With D. Suber (eds.): Religion and Politics. Cultural Perspectives. Leiden: Brill Publishers 2005.


In contrast to the conventional cultural analysis whose endeavor is to discover some hidden structures behind the surface of behavior, the following remarks will present a cultural paradigm that does not reveal valid, though hidden, cultural orders but, instead, presupposes the intransparency of the situation in which acting occurs. It is not intransparency that has to be replaced by enlightenment and a transparent cultural order but the intransparency of the environment of acting is the starting point. It is not the mostly assumed transparency but instead the intransparency and the readiness of actors to take this intransparency and at the end the inseparable social phenomena for regular and normal that provides the basis of social order. We do not act out of the urge for dissimulation and enlightenment; we do not act for enlightenment but for accepting secrets that we will never unveil: Vagueness and indeterminacy will never be replaced by clear definitions. Thinkers of indeterminacy are thinkers as diverse as Carl Schmitt and ethnomethodologists like Harold Garfinkel.

The assumption of a common culture provides a grammar of correct and understandable acting. This holds true in particular when it comes to decide about questions of inclusion and exclusion, for instance when membership is questioned in heroification, perpetratorship or cultural trauma issues. These liminal figures are at the center of the talk. The hero transcends the boundary separating the mundane and the divine. He acts beyond rational calculations and dares to do the unprecedented while the perpetrator is seduced by earthly considerations and falls prey of it.


Diana Hummel (Institute for Social-Ecological Research Germany)

Social Ecology as Transdisciplinary Science of Societal Relations to Nature

12.12.2017, 18-20, room 001, MFR


Political scientist, member of the executive board of ISOE – Institute for Social-Ecological Research, Frankfurt am Main

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


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.


Tim Cresswell (Trinity College, Connecticut, United States)

Space, Place and the Humanities: The Emergence of GeoHumanities

16.01.2018, 18-20, room 001, MFR


Dean of the Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs

Professor of American Studies, Trinity College, Connecticut, United States

Main Research Interests

  • 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.


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.


Prof. Ramón Reichert (University of Vienna, Austria)

Emerging Topics in the Study of Culture: Introducing Digital Literacy

30.01.2018, 18-20, room 001, MFR


Professor at the Department for Theatre, Film and Media Studies, University of Vienna, Austria

Main Research Interests

  • Transition of media
  • Media theory and history
  • Digital media

Publications (selected)

  • Big Data. Analysen zum digitalen Wandel von Wissen, Macht und Ökonomie. Bielefeld: transcript 2014.
  • Die Macht der Vielen. Über den neuen Kult der digitalen Vernetzung. Bielefeld: transcript 2013.
  • With Barbara Eder, Elisabeth Klar, Martina Rosenthal: Theorien des Comics: ein Reader. Bielefeld: transcript 2011.


The term literacy has become a ubiquitous metaphor in recent years, particularly in connection with digital technologies. Literacies remain an attractive option to describe the use of new communication technologies and different communication modes for the production of medially-mediated utterances. This lecture gives an overview of the theories and methods of the new literacy studies and shows in this context their critical potentials and the latest developments in the research field of the digital literacies. Digital literacy involves an understanding how search engines function, how hypertexts and links are structured to encourage us to navigate in particular ways, how information is gathered about users, and how the activity of users is governed and constrained by technological and commercial forces. Digital Literacies develop a theoretical framework of their own owing to the media specificity of digital media culture. In another sense digital literacies focus on technological application competencies when it comes to using convergent media. Finally, i would like to point out that the idea of digital literacy is not only as a question of technological transformation but also as a question of social practices.


Summer Term 2017

Rhoda Reddock (University of the West Indies at St. Augustine, Trinidad & Tobago)

Victimhood Discourses in Postcolonial Multiethnic Societies

25.04.2017, 18-20, room 001, MFR

Professor of Gender & Development and Head of the Centre for Gender and Development Studies at the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine campus

Main Research Interests

  • Women’s labour
  • Gender and history
  • The intersectionality of race, class and gender

Publications (selected)

  • Interrogating Caribbean Masculinities: Theoretical and Empirical Analyses. St. Augustine: University of the West Indies Press, 2004.
  • Caribbean Sociology: Introductory Readings. Jamaica: Ian Randle Publishers, 2001.
  • Women, Labour and Politics in Trinidad and Tobago: A History. In: Palgrave Macmillan Journals 1998.


This paper seeks to provide a new conceptual and analytical framework for understanding how problematic conceptions of ‘self’ and ‘other’ are constructed among communities and within groups and communities in post-colonial multi-ethnic societies. While using the specific case of Trinidad and Tobago, it draws on experiences from post-colonial societies in similar situations globally exploring dimensions of inter-ethnic tensions, competition, conflict and social relations and their gendered manifestations. Drawing on ideas from political psychology it explores the efforts of postcolonial societies to build nation-states out of the violent and unequal legacy of racialized and ethnicized colonial political economy.


Aaron Kamugisha (University of the West Indies at Cave Hill, Barbados)

Sylvia Wynter’s Black Metamorphosis and the Emergence of African Diaspora Studies in the Caribbean

09.05.2017, 18-20, room 001, MFR

Programme Coordinator and Senior Lecturer in Cultural Studies at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill campus

Main Research Interests

  • Anti-colonial thought
  • Caribbean cultural studies
  • The coloniality of citizenship in the contemporary Anglophone Caribbean

Publications (selected)

  • With Yanique Hume, Caribbean Popular Culture: Power, Politics and Performance. Jamaika: Ian Randle Publishers, 2016.
  • With Yanique Hume, Caribbean Cultural Thought: From Plantation to Diaspora. Jamaika: Ian Randle Publishers, 2013.
  • Caribbean Political Thought: The Colonial State to Caribbean Internationalisms. Jamaika: Ian Randle Publishers, 2013.


In my lecture, I discuss the path-breaking importance of Sylvia Wynter’s Black Metamorphosis: New Natives in a New World, an unpublished 900-page manuscript written by her in the 1970s. Black Metamorphosis is a remarkable manuscript, and deserves close study for a number of reasons. It is arguably the most important unpublished non-fiction work by an Anglophone Caribbean intellectual, and the major guide to the transition in Wynter’s thought between her work mainly on the Caribbean and Black America in the 1960s and 1970s, and her theory of the human from the early 1980s onwards. A close study of Black Metamorphosis also reveals that it is a crucial text for comprehending the emergence of African diaspora studies in the post-independence Anglophone Caribbean, and is in fact the most sustained, and compelling interpretations of the black experience in the Western hemisphere ever written by a Caribbean intellectual.


Jonathan David Katz (University at Buffalo, New York)

How AIDS Changed American Culture

06.06.2017, 18-20, room 001, MFR

Associate Professor, Department of Art at the University at Buffalo, New York

Main Research Interests

  • The arts of the Cold War era
  • The question of why the American avant-garde came to be dominated and defined by queer artists during what was perhaps the single most homophobic decade (the Cold War era) in this nation’s history


Publications (selected)

  • Performative Silence and the Politics of Passivity. In: Making a Scene, ed. Henry Rogers. London: Birmingham University Press, 1999. John Cage's Queer Silence or How to Avoid Making Matters Worse. In: GLQ, Duke University Press, 1999. Reprinted in Here Comes Everybody: The Music Poetry and Art of John Cage, ed. David Bernstein, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999.
  • Lovers and Divers: Picturing a Partnership in Rauschenberg and Johns. In: Frauen/Kunst/Wissenschaft, 1998.



What happens to Barthes' celebrated notion of "the death of the author" when it ceases as metaphor and turns horrifyingly literal? AIDS first emerged into public consciousness at roughly the same time that the death of the author became a critical mantra in American cultural studies. In this talk, Katz investigates the ugly convergence of postmodernism's denigration of authoriality and expressivity with the advent of the 20th century's deadliest plague. He will illustrate how and why a new AIDS art learned to camouflage its critical investments, performing a fidelity to postmodernist precepts of anti-expressivity even as it worked to seed complex social, political and even autobiographical meanings. That these works have rarely if ever been understood as socially engaged is in fact precisely the point, proof positive of their critical success. Ironically, a critical theory that was centered on the proliferation of readerly meanings was called upon to both police and contain individual expression. More than simply decoding the social resonance of works never previously understood in an AIDS context, Katz will underscore how and why the rapid ascendance of postmodernist thought in America was in fact keyed to the most noxious forms of homophobia and AIDSphobia.



Mark McGurl (Stanford University, California)

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

20.06.2017, 18-20, room 001, MFR

Professor of English at Stanford University, California

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.



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.


Erik Born (Cornell University, Ithaca, New York)

In Praise of Infrastructure

27.06.2017, 18-20, room 001, MFR

Mellon Fellow, Department of German, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York

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.



“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?



Katharina Stornig (GCSC & FB04 Gießen)

Eye/Witnessing, Media and the Un/Making of Solidarity: Transnational Aid in the Nineteenth Century

11.07.2017, 18-20, room 001, MFR

Junior-Professorin für Kulturgeschichte, GCSC & FB04, JLU Gießen

Main Research Interests

  • Geschichte des Helfens und Philanthropie
  • Kindheit und Familie im 19. und 20. Jahrhundert
  • Katholizismus, Missionsbewegung, Vereinswesen


Publications (selected)

  • Figli della Chiesa. Riscatti e la globalizzazione del welfare cattolico, 1840–1914, In: Genesis. Rivista della Società Italiana delle Storiche XIV/1, 2015.
  • Sisters crossing Boundaries. German Missionary Nuns in colonial Togo and New Guinea, 1897–1960. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht 2013.
  • Vielfache Bedeutungen. Missionsfotografie zwischen Neuguinea und Europa, 1899–ca. 1930, In: Österreichische Zeitschrift für Geschichtswissenschaften, 2013.



This talk discusses the un/making of transnational relationships of aid and solidarity in the long nineteenth century. Since the 1830s, growing groups of Europeans actively supported others, who lived in large geographic distance and who did not belong to the same social, religious or national community. This transnational expansion of aid was largely due to the activities of Christian institutions, which, inspired by European imperialism and the growing missionary venture, started to massively promote support for distant others in need. Acknowledging the great importance of institutions and media in this context, my talk particularly explores the ways in which mediated information and knowledge about geographically distant societies and “cultures” worked out in the creation of solidarity, human concern and connectedness. Thereby, I particularly ask when and how mediated knowledge became culturally validated and potentially triggered support for some groups, while it encouraged indifference or even hostility towards others. Introducing the notion and practice of eye/witnessing as a means to produce facts (or truth) about geographically distant lives and needs, my talk also aims to speak to current concerns in today’s society with regard to the status of facts and emotions in social and political discourse and action.


GCSC Anniversary Lecture Series
Winter Term 2016 /2017

James Mark (University of Exeter / UK)

Socialism Goes Global: Eastern Europe and an Anti-Imperialist World 1954-1989

22.11.2016, 18-20, room 001, MFR

Professor at the History Department at the University of Exeter, UK.

Main Research Interests

  • Political Transformations
  • Re-remembering the Past in the Former Eastern Bloc
  • Memory of the Second World War in Hungarian and Romanian Communities in Transylvania

Publications (selected)

  • With M. Bracke: Between Decolonisation and the Cold War: Transnational Activism and Its Limits in Europe 1950s-1990s. Special Issue of the Journal of Contemporary History, 2015.
  • With R. Gildea, A. Warring: Europe's 1968: Voices of Revolt. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013.
  • The Unfinished Revolution: Making Sense of the Communist Past in Central-Eastern Europe. London / New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010.


This lecture will examine the ways in which eastern Europeans grappled with the challenge of a post-colonial world, addressing how politicians, intellectuals and travellers from across the smaller countries of eastern Europe – from Poland to Hungary to Yugoslavia – encountered a decolonizing world from the 1950s onwards. It will explore some of those (mainly leftist) intellectuals who imagined a new cultural and geopolitical orientation for their region. It will address those who positioned eastern Europe as an organic part of a global anti-imperialist space – as they forged solidarities with those countries which appeared to be 'going their way' ideologically. It will analyse how some challenged the assumptions of European whiteness that had been long absorbed by eastern Europeans – but now, they believed, needed to be questioned. Finally, through exploring the growing de-legitimisation of socialist internationalism, the revival of discourses on Europeanness, and the re-affirmation of older notions of whiteness in the 1970s and 1980s, this paper will lay out the broader historical context for the difficulties of bringing the study of post-Communism and postcolonialism together after 1989. This lecture is taken from research conducted as part of the Arts and Humanities Council (UK)-funded project 'Socialism Goes Global':


Stuart Elden (University of Warwick / UK)

Terrain – the Materiality of Territory

13.12.2016, 18-20, room 001, MFR

Professor of Political Theory and Geography at the University of Warwick, UK and Monash Warwick Professor in the Faculty of Arts at Monash University, AUS

Main Research Interests

  • Modern History
  • Political Geography
  • Philosophy

Publications (selected)

  • Foucault: The Birth of Power. Cambridge: Polity Press, forthcoming January 2017.
  • Foucault's Last Decade. Cambridge: Polity Press, 2016.
  • The Birth of Territory. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013.
  • Terror and Territory: The Spatial Extent of Sovereignty. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2009.


Terrain is an important concept in both physical and military geography. However the term is often used in a relatively unproblematic way to describe the forms and textures that define particular spaces. This lecture draws elements from both traditions but situates them within a more explicitly theoretical-political inquiry, that of thinking the materiality of territory. Terrain is important in understanding territory because it combines materiality, strategy and the need to go beyond a narrow, two-dimensional sense of the cartographic imagination. Instead, terrain forces us to account for the complexity of height and depth, the question of volume. Terrain makes possible, or constrains, various political, military and strategic projects. It is where the geopolitical and the geophysical meet.

All attempts at fixing territorial boundaries and shaping territories are complicated by dynamic features of the Earth, including rivers, oceans, polar-regions, glaciers, airspace and the sub-surface – both the sub-soil and the sub-marine. These complexities operate at a range of spatial scales, from the boundaries of nation-states to urban infrastructure projects. Taking the measure of these factors is crucial for a political-legal theory of territory more generally. Essentially the key question is: how can theories of territory better account for the complexities of the geophysical?


Helen Atawube Yitah (University of Ghana, GHA)

Now Upon a Time: How African Folktales Speak to the Present and Beyond

06.12.2016, 18-20, room 001, MFR

Associate Professor and Head of Department of English at the University of Ghana, GHA  

Main Research Interests

  • Gender Identity in Oral and Written African Literature
  • African American and American Literature
  • Eighteenth Century British Literature
  • Practice in Criticism

Publications (selected)

  • With Gordon Adika, George Ossom-Batsa: New Perspectives on African Humanity: Beliefs, Values & Artistic Expression. Accra: Adwinsa Publications, 2014.
  • After the Ceremonies: New and Selected Poems by Ama Ata Aidoo. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2014.
  • Critical Readings of Faceless. Accra: Sub-saharan Publishers, 2014.
  • Throwing Stones in Jest: Kasena Women’s Proverbial Revolt. Saabrücken: Lambert Academic Publishers, 2011.


In this lecture I look at ways in which the content and form of Ghanaian folktales are being subverted to reflect the narrators’ lived realities (or their dreams) and to articulate their ideological perceptions. The revised stories feature (1) open-ended plots that break the presumed “stylistic consistency” of the folktale and (2) characters who inscribe themselves onto a ‘modern’ scene which is a far cry from the fantasy world typically associated with the folktale. I examine how these features challenge long held views in narratology, especially as they pertain to the narrative subject—views which have resulted in a shift in literary studies away from narrative grammar in search of a pragmatics of narrative. Furthermore, given that folktale studies have provided a site for the construction and demonstration of literary and cultural paradigms, my analysis of the Ghanaian folktales will form a basis for exploring the potential of this genre for generating new directions in African studies, particularly with regard to dismantling the foundations of the seemingly intractable colonizing epistemological order that has held sway within the discipline.

Helen Yitah's key-note lecture will be followed by a response given by Stefan Helgesson, a professor of English and African literature at Stockholm University.


Albrecht Koschorke (University of Konstanz / DE)

Stories and Decisions. Toward a Theory of Factual Narratives


24.01.2017, 18-20, Phil I A3, MFR

Professor of Modern German Literature and Literary Studies at University of Konstanz, DE

Main Research Interests

  • Cultural Theory
  • Cultural Semiotics
  • Narrative Theory
  • German Literature from the 17th to 20th Century

Publications (selected)

  • Hitlers Mein Kampf. Zur Poetik des Nationalsozialismus. Berlin: Matthes & Seitz, 2016.
  • Wahrheit und Erfindung. Grundzüge einer Allgemeinen Erzähltheorie. Frankfurt am Main: Fischer, 2012.
  • Die Heilige Familie und ihre Folgen. Frankfurt am Main: Fischer Taschenbuch Wissenschaft, 2000. American Translation: The Holy Family and Its Legacy. New York: Columbia University Press, 2003.
  • Die Geschichte des Horizonts. Grenze und Grenzüberschreitung in literarischen Landschaftsbildern. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1990.


In my lecture, I want to explore the collaborative effects of storytelling, sensemaking, and decision-taking. My starting point is the assumption that social processes are determined by a general tendency to minimize effort through the limitation of attention, time, cognitive and semantic energy. Only in certain cases should they reach the level of meaningful action. And only particularly demanding meaningful actions require narrative support. The basic function of social narratives consists in the framing and closure of contentious situations. However, there are situations in which a moment of crisis does not simply allow itself to be narratively encapsulated but requires an act of decision. This raises the question of how decisions are dealt with on the level of storytelling—both in terms of preparating and reworking the turning point of decision itself.

With this line of thought, I try to combine the analysis of storytelling in everyday life with results from cognitive theory and theories of organization—as a possible (and hopefully plausible) “new direction in the study of culture.”


Tom Holert (Harun Farocki Institut, Berlin, DE)

Travelling the Image. On Navigation as a Paradigm of Digital Visual Cultures


01.02.2017, 18-20, room 001, MFR

Co-Funder of the Harun Farocki Institut Berlin, DE

Main Research Interests

  • Contemporary and Late Modernist Art
  • Governmentality of the Present

Publications (selected)

  • Übergriffe. Zustände und Zuständigkeit der Gegenwartskunst. Hamburg: Philo Fine Arts, 2014.
  • With Mark Terkessidis: Fliehkraft. Gesellschaft in Bewegung – von Migranten und Touristen. Köln: Kiepenheuer und Witsch, 2006.
  • With Mark Terkessidis: Entsichert. Krieg als Massenkultur im 21. Jahrhundert. Köln: Kiepenheuer und Witsch, 2002.
  • With Mark Terkessidis: Mainstream der Minderheiten; Pop in der Kontrollgesellschaft. Berlin / Amsterdam: ID Archiv, 1996.


In one of the last interviews preceding his premature death in 2014, filmmaker, artist and writer Harun Farocki pondered the question to what extent the prime visual metholodogy of political modernism, namely montage, has been replaced by the paradigm of navigation. Moreover, Farocki implicitly asked what the epistemological and aesthetic consequences of such a shift would be. In my talk I will attempt to continue this interrogation of the condition of contemporary digital visual cultures, mobilizing the notion of "navigation" to trace the terrain of operational image production and usage. Being particularly interested in the fate of the idea of the political or dialectical image, this line of questioning aims at addressing the modes through which images are being converted into dataspaces to be travelled as well as the instrumental life of images as tools of navigation (from neurosurgery to targeted killings).


Stefan Iversen University Aarhus, DK


The Culture of Inappropriateness: Value, Affect, and Narrative in Contemporary Rhetorical Discourses

07.02.2017, 18-20, room 001, MFR

Associate Professor at the Department for Aesthetics and Communication at Aarhus University, DK

Main Research Interests

  • Literary Studies
  • Narrative Theory

Publications (selected)

  • 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.
  • With Henrik Skov Nielsen, Jan Alber, Louise Brix Jacobsen, Rikke Andersen Kraglund, Camilla Møhring Reestorff: Why Study Literature? Aarhus: Aarhus University Press, 2011.


Decorum, a key concept in rhetorical theory and practice, designates perhaps the most important lesson to any speaker: say what is appropriate in the situation. Appropriateness, however, only becomes visible when it is not adhered to. Decorum and with it the rules governing deliberative culture emerges through indecorum. This talk springs from the observation that the meanings of the decorous and the indecorous seem to be undergoing radical changes, changes that go beyond what Boltanski and others have investigated under the heading of “sociology of dispute”. Across discourse realms such as political rhetoric, art, literature, and branding/marketing, debates about as well as practices of the indecorous have taken on new forms and functions. By combining insights from postclassical narratology (Phelan, Altes, Nünning), rhetorical criticism (Jasinski), affect studies (Ahmed) and sociology (Boltanski, Latour), the aim of the talk is to characterize cultural artefacts marked by this obsession with the inappropriate in order to better understand our current struggles with understanding each other.



GCSC Anniversary Lecture Series
Summer Term 2016

Veronika Zink (JLU, Gießen, GER)

Post/Doc Perspectives: The Nano-Politics of Affect

Respondent: Andreas Langenohl (Professor of Sociology, JLU, Gießen)

26.4.2016, 12-14, room 001, MFR


Postdoc Research Fellow at at the International Graduate Centre for the Study of Culture at Justus-Liebig-University Gießen, GER

Main Research Interests

  • Sociology of Religion and Secularism 

  • Economic Anthropology and Political Economy 

  • Sociology of Emotions and Affect Studies

Publications (selected)

  • With Bernd Giesen, Francis Le Maitre, Nils Meise: Überformungen. Wir ohne Nichts. Weilerswist: Velbrück, in Print. 

  • With Johanna Fernandez and Danae Gallo Gonzalez: W(h)ither Identity. Positioning the Self and Transforming the Social. Trier: VWT, 2015. 

  • Von der Verehrung. Eine kultursoziologische Untersuchung. Frankfurt am Main: Campus, 2014.


Affect has become one of the key terms in contemporary critical thought and within post-deconstructive cultural studies. But, why are so many scholars in the humanities and social sciences fascinated by the idea of affect? Affect, as I will argue, does not only serve as a ‘new’ scientific concept, but even more as an ethical category and as a nano-political strategy conjuring the belief in the recreative value of affective connections as well as in affect’s capacity to exceed social subjection. In order to critically investigate the political potential of affect, one has to understand the theoretical claim for affect as a product of our current socio-historic condition. In my lecture I will demonstrate that the so-called affective turn represents an epistemological shift not only within critical-academic, artistic, and ethico-political discourses, but also in the overall way we envision social reality and humanity. Theorizing affect requires a quite specific social ontology. Taking this into account I want to disentangle the premises of affect theory to, first, analyze the underlying onto-political belief system that fuels affect theory in order to, secondly, demonstrate in how far this represents a new notion of the social, a vital political hope that is conditioned by the metaphysics of late capitalism.


Claire Kramsch (University of California, Berkeley, USA)

The Future of "Culture" in Applied Linguistics

17.05.2016, 18-20, room 001, MFR

kramsch Professor of German and Education at University of California, Berkeley, USA

Main Research Interests

  • Applied Linguistics

  • Second Language Acquisition

  • Cultural and Stylistic Approaches to Language Study

Publications (selected)

  • The Multilingual Subject. What Language Learners say About their Experience and why it Matters. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2009.
  • Language and Culture. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 1998.
  • Context and Culture in Language Teaching. Oxford University Press. 1993.
  • With Ellen Crocker: Reden, Mitreden, Dazwischenreden: Managing Conversations in German. Boston: Heinle & Heinle. 1990.


If Applied Linguistics is “an interdisciplinary field of research and practice dealing with practical problems of language and communication” (Li Wei 2014:2), the study of culture has long been seen an essential component of Applied Linguistics, if only because the problems created by language in the real world have very often to do with the social, historical and cultural context in which linguistic resources are put to use. That context, that both structures and is structured by language, is what we call “culture”.  Before the advent of globalization, the Internet and the large scale migrations of the 21st century, culture was studied as the national context in which national languages were learned and used. Today, with the increasingly multilingual and multicultural nature of industrialized societies, the spread of English as a global language, and the relentless rise of neoliberal ideology, the notion of “culture” is seen as being less useful in Applied Linguistics than historicity and subjectivity, performativity and symbolic power.


Peter Gilgen (Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA)

Literature and the Post-Humanist Turn 

07.06.2016, 18-20, room 001, MFR


Associate Professor of German Studies and Member of Graduate Field of Comparative Literature, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY

Main Research Interests

  • Eighteenth- to Twentieth-Century Literature and Philosophy 

  • Literary and Media Theory 

  • Lyric Poetry and Poetics  

  • Systems Theory

Publications (selected)

  • Lektüren der Erinnerung: Lessing, Kant, Hegel. Munich: Wilhelm Fink Verlag, 2012.
  • With Peter Uwe Hohendahl and Thomas Teufel: Back to Kant II: The Fate of Kant in a Time of Crisis. The Philosophical Forum 41:1-2 (2010): 1-230.
  • Unterlandschaft. Eggingen: Edition Isele, 1999.



Astrid Erll (Goethe-University, Frankfurt am Main, GER)

New Directions and Challenges in Cultural Memory Studies: Past,       Present, Future

14.06.2016, 18-20, room 001, MFR

Erll Professor of Anglophone Literatures and Cultures at Goethe-University Frankfurt am Main, GER

Main Research Interests

  • Anglophone Literatures and Culture

  • Transcultural Memory Narratives

  • Media Studies/Intermediality

Publications (selected)

  • Bibel und Literatur um 1800. München: Wilhelm Fink 2011.
  • With Ansgar Nünning, in collab. with Sara B. Young: Cultural Memory Studies. An International and Interdisciplinary Handbook. Berlin/New York: de Gruyter, 2008. 

  • Kollektives Gedächtnis und Erinnerungskulturen. Eine Einführung. Stuttgart: Metzler, 2005.

  • With Ansgar Nünning: Media & Cultural Memory/Medien & kulturelle Erinnerung. Vols. 1ff. Berlin/New York: de Gruyter, since 2004.


This lecture discusses how cultural memory is studied today in different disciplinary, national and regional contexts – and how it might, or should, be studied tomorrow. After a quick look back at the evolution and main crossroads of the field in the past three decades, I will try to recapitulate some of the most important developments of memory studies in recent years. I am quite aware, however, of the sheer impossibility of constructing one single ‘state of the art’ of memory studies. Instead, I will show some of the more interesting ‘states’ that this highly diverse, international and interdisciplinary field has reached. Finally, I will zoom in on some examples (taken mainly from literary, media, and transcultural memory studies), and ask where the preoccupation with cultural memory may lead us in the future. 


Philipp Schulte (JLU, Gießen, GER) & Falk Rößler (Theatre Collective FUX, GER)

Post/Doc Perspectives: Against Functionalization. On Artistic Research

Respondent: Gerald Siegmund (Professor for Applied Theatre Studies, JLU, Gießen)

28.6.2016, 12-14, room 001, MFR


Postdoc Research Fellow at Institute for Applied Theatre Studies at Justus-Liebig-University Gießen, GER

Main Research Interests

  • Contemporary Performance Art


  • Subjectivity and Identity

  • Theories of Space and Scenography

  • Theatre and Critique

Publications (selected)

  • With Anneka Esch-van Kan, Stephan Packard: Thinking – Resisting – Reading the Political. Zürich/Berlin: Diaphanes, 2013.
  • With Marion Tiedtke: Die Kunst der Bühne: Positionen des zeitgenössischen Theaters. Berlin: Theater der Zeit, 2011.
  • Identität als Experiment. Ichperformanzen auf der Gegenwartsbühne. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 2011.
  • With Marion Tiedtke: Die Kunst der Bühne. Zeitgenössische Positionen der Regie und der Choreographie. Berlin: Theater der Zeit, 2011.

Member of the Theatre Collective FUX

Main Research Interests

  • Aesthetic Strategies in Contemporary Performing Arts

  • Artistic Research

  • Quality of Life-Discourse

Publications (selected)

  • Eierlegende Wollmilchsäue? Anmerkungen zu Künstlerischer Forschung. In: Frankfurt in Takt. Schwerpunktthema Künstlerische Forschung. Frankfurt am Main: Magazin der Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst Frankfurt am Main, 2015.
  • Das starke Selbst. Stoische und zeitgenössische Lebenskunstkonzepte als Medien der Lebensgestaltung. München: Grin, 2011.
  • Benjamins taktiles Paradies. Zum Politischen in Walter Benjamins Kunstwerk-Aufsatz. In: Flade/Förster/Ugarte Chacón: Paradiese am Rand. Studentisches Denken. Marginalien an der Universität? München: USP, 2010.


A specter is haunting European academia – the specter of artistic research. This specter invokes an ambivalent promise: For some the hybridization of academic studies and art practice seems to be a worthwhile endeavor inasmuch as it aims to break with incrusted institutional structures within the field of art and knowledge production. Others hope to enhance the visibility of their institutions by acquiring public funds to establish new study and research programs that work at the intersection of art and research; or in short: artistic research has economic value.

In our lecture we will, first, address the discussion on artistic research by asking how an aesthetic critique of scientific knowledge production could look like. By, secondly, referring to concrete examples we will further question the potential of artistic research as a hybrid cultural praxis that receives its value precisely from sitting at the nexus of academic studies and art. Do we need to hold on to a constitutional difference between artistic practice and scientific praxis or does this distinction dissolve? In relating our thoughts to the institutional critique – specifically focusing on the critique of the higher education sector – we will assume that the praxis of artistic research can only fully unfold its potential if such a praxis gets encouraged by means of funding, but without institutionally embedding and regulating this very praxis. 


Fatima El-Tayeb (University of California, San Diego, USA))

Europe's Racial Amnesia. An Intersectional Perspective

28.06.2016, 18-20, room 001, MFR


This event has been cancelled



Birgit Neumann (Heinrich-Heine-University, Düsseldorf, GER)

Pushing Narrative to its Limits: Ekphrasis and Visuality in Teju Cole's Fiction

05.07.2016, 18-20, room 001, MFR

Neumann Professor of Anglophone Literatures and Literary Translation, Heinrich-Heine-University Düsseldorf, GER

Main Research Interests

  • Anglophone Literatures and Cultures
  • Postcolonial, Global and Transcultural Studies
  • Postcolonial and Material Ecocriticism
  • Intermediality and Ekphrasis in Postcolonial Literatures

Publications (selected)

  • Präsenz und Evidenz fremder Dinge im Europa des 18. Jahrhunderts. Göttingen: Wallstein Verlag, 2015.
  • With Ansgar Nünning: Travelling Concepts for the Study of Culture. Berlin/New York: de Gruyter, 2012.
  • A Short History of English Literature until 1900: A Survey of Periods, Genres and Major Writers. Stuttgart: Klett, 2010.
  • With Ansgar Nünning: An Introduction to the Study of Narrative Fiction. Stuttgart: Klett, 2008.
  • Erinnerung – Identität – Narration. Gattungstypologie und Funktionen kanadischer Fictions of Memory. Berlin/New York: de Gruyter, 2005.