The Concept of Culture:
Aesthetics and Politics in the Modern World

An Interdisciplinary Workshop, Universität Konstanz, 1-2 July 2010

As much as the modern world has been changed by processes connected to the advance of technological and economic modernization on the one hand and globalizing political processes on the other hand, the world’s transformations since the end of the Cold War have made it apparent that such social processes cannot be reduced to the workings of autonomous spheres of technological, economic, or political forces. Neither the progress of technology, nor the workings of the global economy, nor political structures can be considered independently of the cultural decisions that are imbedded in specific traditions, whether these are understood as religious frameworks, tribal structures, or nation-state systems. This workshop will investigate the ways in which culture functions to either establish or to challenge a particular social order and the legal and political institutions that support it. If symbolic systems embedded in a culture form the overarching background for the establishment of human meaning, then culture’s ability to found and reproduce a value system must depend on processes that are specific to this sphere yet also establish the parameters for developmental processes in other spheres. As examples of both Islamic revolution and new forms of nationalism in former socialist countries demonstrate, the development of religion, in the former case, and of secular but national literary traditions, in the latter case, point to an intertwining of aesthetic, religious, and political processes in the modern world. Because they depend upon transformations in the popular consciousness, these processes can only be fully understood by analyzing the dynamics of both aesthetic and political representation. The purpose of this workshop is to investigate 1) the ways in which cultural forms develop according to their own independent mechanisms and 2) how these cultural developments play a defining role in the unfolding of political and social processes.

Workshop Program

Thursday, 1 July 2010: F425, Universität Konstanz

15.00-15.15             “’Weltliteratur’ reconsidered“ //Ethel Matala de Mazza, Universität Konstanz
15.15-15.50             Discussion

16.00-16.15             “Cultural Foundations and the Moment of Sacrifice: Carl Einstein and Carl Schmitt” //David Pan, University of California, Irvine
16.15-16.50             Discussion

17.00-17.15            “Wofür sterben: Fürst oder Vaterland? Kriegsopfer im bürgerlichen Trauerspiel” //Marcus Twellmann, Universität Konstanz
17.15-17.50            Discussion

Friday, 2 July 2010: IBZ II, Universität Konstanz

9.00-9.15            “Der Ruf der Kreatur. Die Parforcejagd und ihre Kritik bei Matthias Claudius, Gottfried August Bürger und Jean Paul” //Robert Suter, Universität Konstanz           
9.15-9.50            Discussion

10.00-10.15            “The Tragedy of Civilization: International Law and the Aesthetics of the Tragic in the Nineteenth Century” //Chenxi Tang, University of California, Berkeley
10.15-10.50            Discussion

11.00-11.15            “Unvollständige Information, Redundanz, Sinn, mental mapping” //Albrecht Koschorke, Universität Konstanz
11.15-11.50            Discussion