Tragic Form. Conflict, Language, Actions. Lecture by Prof. Franco Moretti (Stanford University) (February 7, 2024)

Since its inception in Greek antiquity the dramatic genre of tragedy has been concerned with conflict. More acutely so, tragedy is the literary form that has most explicitly focused on the conflict to death. As it has done so in some of the most memorable, beautiful words ever written, tragedy has produced an uncanny mix of beauty and horror. In his talk Franco Moretti looked at one of the conditions of possibility for tragic conflict, namely, the representation of the family as a possible symbolic form of civil war.

lecture and poetry reading with Prof. Martin von Koppenfels and PD Dr. Johanna Schumm (Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich) (October 25, 2023)

Se hace camino al andar: Paths through the History of Spanish-Language Lyric Poetry

The recently published anthology Spanische und hispanoamerikanische Lyrik (Munich: C.H.Beck, 2022) brings together poems which originate from a period of 900 years, and from a heterogeneous linguistic and cultural space that extends across the Atlantic. Working on their project, the editorial team – comprised of Prof. Dr. Martin von Koppenfels, PD Dr. Johanna Schumm, and a number of colleagues – had to find a shape for a sea of texts. Spanish-language cultures have produced an enormous wealth of lyric forms – an additional challenge for this type of endeavor, but also an opportunity, because it is precisely the migrations and transformations of forms that are characteristic for this realm of poetry. In a format which combined a report on their editorial and scholarly work with poetry readings, von Koppenfels and Schumm presented the anthology as a project that required the four fundamental disciplines of philology: critique, edition, translation, and commentary.

The Sounds of Protest: Exploring Affective Soundscapes in the Revolutionary City of Khartoum - Lecture by Dr. Valerie Hänsch (Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Munich) (June 14, 2023)

In her lecture, Dr. Hänsch investigated the aesthetic dimensions of political protests resisting the 2021 military coup which overthrew a transitional government that was meant to pave the way from an Islamist regime to democractic elections. Based on ethnographic research in Khartoum, this presentation explored the semiotic-material infrastructures of the street protests and the sounds of protests produced in protest slogans and public music-making. Building on Birgit Meyers’ concept of “aesthetic formation” (2009), she focused on slogans, their sounds and rhythms as styles that bind people and values together. In her account, slogans are not just defined by their semiotic content which circulates between different forms (for instance, chanted words or wall writings) but as a form of acoustic activism that stimulates sensory experiences and generates affective resonances between people in the creation of soundscapes that acoustically shape the political space of the streets.

"Adaptation as Renewal. The Transformative Impact of Hamlet’s Travels" - Lecture by Prof. Sandra Young (University of Cape Town) (January 25, 2023)

This lecture considered the impact of the global travels of Shakespeare’s works on the figure of Hamlet, and on the eponymous play’s capacity to effect social critique when reimagined in non-traditional centers of Shakespearean theater-practice. Prof. Young focused on productions in Brazil, India-administered Kashmir, post-independence Nigeria and the United Kingdom. Elaborating on his notion of ‘traveling theory’, Edward Said rejected concepts such as ‘borrowing’ and ‘adaptation’ as inadequate for understanding processes by which such theories travel between cultural contexts. This lecture made a similar claim, trying to understand the travels of ‘Hamlet’ as transformative, rather than as ‘adaptations’.

Two Screenings and a Zoom-Conversation with South African Documentary Film-Maker Rehad Desai - in collaboration with Zebra-Kino Konstanz (November 15-16, 2022)

Traveling Forms presented two screenings of films by South Afircan documentary film-makers and International Emmy-Award Winner Rehad Desai in collaboration with independent Konstanz cinema ‘Zebra Kino’. "Time of Pandemcis (2022, 93 mins), a joint work by Desai and Tricia Hlongwe, explores the intertwined impact of two pandemics: the recent global Coronavirus-outbreak and the still ongoing effects of the global spread of HIV, as they both affect South Africa. The documentary sheds light on the entanglements of both pandemics with socioeconomic inequality and the unevenly distributed accessibility of antiretroviral drugs and COVID-19 vaccines. "How to Steal a Country" (2019, 93 mins)", made by Desai in collaboration with Mark Kaplan, investigates the criminally corrupt behavior of two of South Africa’s most powerful families, the Guptas and Zumas.

'Formats - Forms of Time in Contemporary Dance/Performance' - Lecture by Prof. Gabriele Brandstetter (Freie Universität Berlin/New York University) (Wed, July 20 - 17h) (in German)

"Forms and Spaces of Contemporary African Protest" - Online-lecture series, co-organized by Dr. Jeannine-Madeleine Fischer (Thurs, 16.15-17.45h, CET; April 21-July 07, 2022)

This online lecture series, co-organized by 'Traveling Forms'-member Dr. Jeannine-Madeleine Fischer with Dr. Billy Kalima (Research Fellow, Cluster of Excellence 'Politics of Inequality', Konstanz University) presented conceptual approaches to protest, forms, and spaces thereof, focusing on their generational dynamics and participation. How can we best understand contemporary forms of protest in Africa?

"Translation - A Social Form of Thirdness?" - Lecture by Dr. Doris Bachmann-Medick (Giessen University) (May 18, 2022 )

The complexities of contemporary societies and their crises demand processes of translation. But how can translation become a reliable social and cultural technique by way of which controversies and conflicts within and between societies can be mediated and negotiated? This lecture proposed a new emphasis within our understanding of translation: rather than a mere transmission of content and meaning, translation is also a "social form" in its own right. Refering to Georg Simmel's sociology, the lecture develops a concept of translation that is sensitive to questions of form, while also introducing the notion of "forms of thirdness" to it, which shape social configurations: from 'pre-translations', social forms of address, 'third spaces', 'trading zones', and 'third idioms' to the three-polarity of translating by referential relations.

"Antigone: Requiem, Ruin, Revenant" - Online-Lecture by Prof. Christina Wald at the ReTAGS-Project, University of Cape Town (April 28, 2022)

Invited by the research project 'Reimagining Tragedy from Africa and the Global South' at the University of Cape Town, this lecture by Prof. Wald compared two contemporary reworkings of Sophocles' 'Antigone': the 'ruinous' reassemblage produced by Cape Town's 'Magnet Theatre', and Austrian playwright Thomas Köck's recomposition of the Greek play in the form of a requiem, staged at Vienna's 'Burgtheater'.

"Comic Vehicles. Traveling Tragedy in 17th Century Germany" - Lecture by Prof. Juliane Vogel at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris (March 15, 2022)

This lecture by Prof. Juliane Vogel took place in the context of the seminar series  'Engagements et désengagements: les professions intellectuelles et artistiques entre responsabilité et désintéressement', convened by Prof. Gisèle Sapiro.

"What is a Classic? 3.0: Poetry, Myth and Classical Forms in Some Contemporary South African Theatre" - Lecture by Prof. Mark Fleishman (University of Cape Town/Magnet Theatre, Cape Town) (January 12, 2022)

Conceived as another in a series of lectures on the theme: “What is a classic?” by artist/theoreticians who were born outside of Europe but to some extent lay claim to a tradition of European classics in relation to their identity and their work, this presentation examined the ways in which what might be called ‘classics’ are used or continue to be used by contemporary theatre-makers in the South African context, in the aftermath of formal colonialism and apartheid.

"Shakespeare in Bits and Pieces" - Lecture by Dr. Philipp Lammers and Prof. Marcus Twellmann at the conference 'Periodicals as/in Media Constellations', Thyssen-Foundation Cologne (November 26, 2021)

Rather than as immutable units, forms frequently travel in bits and pieces, opening up the possibilities and necessities of perpetual re-assemblage. This lecture, given in the context of the international conference 'Periodicals as/in Media Constellations', organized by the Research Unit 'Journalliterature. Conditions of Formating, Visual Design, Cultures of Reception' (Bochum, Cologne, Marburg), looked at the reception of Shakespeare's plays by way of 17th and 18th century continental journals, where they circulated in fragmented form.

"The Mobility of the Scene" - Mosse-Lecture by Prof. Juliane Vogel at Humboldt-University Berlin (November 4, 2021)

The scene is a volatile and mobile form. In line with its original meaning ("tent" in ancient Greek), the scene designates a provisional structure, which can be set up and taken down again, no matter where. In her Mosse-lecture, Prof. Vogel investigated this provisional character of the scene in a historical perspective, within the context of drama and beyond.

"Re-editing History in Public Space: Contested Monuments and Memories" - Lecture by Prof. Nilüfer Göle (EHESS, Paris) (May 19, 2021)

History is written over and over in stone, producing layers of conflicting and converging heritage, and public space becomes a site for displaying the memories of the past and visions for future society. Disputes over the legacies, usages and rhetoric of monuments indicate how memory and identity, long term historical heritage and present-day politics are interrelated. The two monuments of the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul and the Mezquita Cathedral in Cordoba are such examples. They represent the sedimentation of different historic epochs and embody the juxtaposition of cultures, Byzantine and Muslim, Arab and Hispanic. In the present, the cultural heritages of Eastern Christianity and European Islam are compromised as these hybrid religious edifices become markers of a symbolic battle between Islam and the West. Held in May 2021, this lecture investigated attempts of reediting history in which these monuments are subjected to reappropriations, and transformations in view of creating new publics, unsettling established hierarchies between the religious and the secular, between minorities and majority.

"On the Social Conditions of the Transcultural Circulation of Literary Forms and Models" - Lecture by Prof. Gisèle Sapiro (EHESS, Paris) (January 27, 2021)

What cultural forms are circulating? Through which channels, and which circuits? How are these forms appropriated? In her lecture, held in January 2021, Prof. Sapiro (EHESS, Paris) proposed a framework for analyzing the social conditions of the transcultural circulation of literary forms and models.