The world of academia, whether medieval or modern, has long provided humorists with an image of ridicule: stodgy professors instilling recondite knowledge to perplexed students. In his Academy lecture, Alex Novikoff breathes new life into the world of scholastic discourse and argues that the world of university debates is a good deal more live and entertaining than has been assumed. Focusing on the medieval practice of disputatio (debate), he looks both inside and beyond the ivory tower and argues that what at first glance might seem like useless hairsplitting is, in fact, part and parcel of a much broader culture of argumentation, one that both depends on and in turn influences a public and participatory sphere of knowledge exchange. Employing the methodologies of performance studies and intellectual history, Novikoff offers a new perspective on the world of medieval scholasticism and urges us to think creatively and interdisciplinarily about the social life of ideas -- both medieval and modern.
Introduction by Prof. Dr. Anita Traninger, Professor of Spanish and French Literature, Freie Universität Berlin;
Vice-Director, Dahlem Humanities Center; and Member of the Board of Directors, Forum Mittelalter-Renaissance-Frühe Neuzeit
Please note that this lecture takes place at Museum THE KENNEDYS (Auguststraße 11-13; 10117 Berlin)
A Rage for Order is the first work of literary journalism to track the tormented legacy of what was once called the Arab Spring. In this recent book, New York Times Magazine contributing writer Robert F. Worth brings the history of the present to life through vivid stories and portraits, including that of a Libyan rebel who must decide whether to kill the Qaddafi-regime torturer who murdered his brother; a Yemeni farmer who lives in servitude to a dungeon-operating, poetry-writing chieftain; and an Egyptian doctor who is caught between his loyalty to the Muslim Brotherhood and his hopes for a new, tolerant democracy. A Rage for Order combines dramatic storytelling with an original analysis of Arab world today, capturing its psychic tensions and civil unrest.
Generously supported by Daimler-Fonds
Nigeria is a towering presence in Africa: one in every five Africans is a Nigerian; its economy is the largest on the continent. Nigeria is also one of the world’s major oil producers and is usually identified as a middle-income country. Yet the majority of Nigerians have benefitted little from the country’s vast oil wealth and the country is sometimes seen as a "failing state." Michael Watts' lecture focuses on two home-grown insurgencies: Boko Haram, a radical Islamist movement located in the dry and arid northern Muslim heartlands, and the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), arising from the largely Christian oil-fields of the southeastern rainforests. Each insurgency, Watts argues, arose from common failures of state, civic, customary and religious authority, and from the material, political, and economic insecurities produced by the failure of national secular development.
In a presentation that is part craft talk and part reading, Mississippi Poet Laureate Beth Ann Fennelly shares strategies that inform her forthcoming book, Heating & Cooling: 52 Micro-Memoirs (W.W. Norton). In today’s increasingly heterogeneous publishing landscape, cross-genre works that blend inheritances from multiple literary parents have a new urgency and popularity. Combining the extreme brevity of poetry yet hewing to the truth-telling of creative nonfiction, Fennelly's micro-memoirs allow us to consider questions of genre while delighting in a form that, like a hummingbird, stuns with its speed and ingenuity.
This American Academy Reading is part of Berlin Science Week.
Photo by Jon Cancelino; courtesy the Poetry Foundation
Tom Franklin's lecture will feature readings from and a discussion of his New York Times bestselling 2010 novel Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter. This book, Franklin says, is "accidentally autobiographical," in that the author had few plans to use aspects and details of his own life. But when he found himself working in Brazil, far from his native Alabama, he began to draw from his own past. The discussion will also examine how the subconscious mind works when writing fiction.
There are more than two hundred surviving manuscripts of Frankish capitularies—royal laws divided into chapters. Though they were produced by kings and courts, they were mostly copied by local authorities who decided to use them for their own purposes. Jennifer Davis's new book, Per capitularios nostros: Law and its Uses in the Frankish Kingdoms, examines how these laws were used in different ways over time, revealing changes in Frankish politics, society, and culture. Her focus on manuscript evidence -- many of them located in Berlin -- allows her to look at both what kings intended and how Frankish law was put to use.
Historian Rebecca Boehling examines divergent Western Allies' theories behind denazification and how they implemented their policies once on the ground. How, she asks, did denazification develop from the intent to come to terms with, if not confront, the past, and to attempt a level of reconciliation conducive to economic recovery and democratization? Using a broad chronological and geographical framework of transitional justice, she uses the case study of Berlin to explore how the Western Allied theories were put into practice—first by the Allies and then by Germans.
Ioana Uricaru's screenplay Paperclip is based on historical events, especially Operation Paperclip, US military’s program of recruiting German scientists at the end of World War II. Named after the stationery items used to affix a new set of paperwork and therefore a new identity onto the scientists’ files, this intelligence operation made possible the establishing of the American space program. It also became the target of controversy decades later, as their scrubbed biographies came back to haunt some of its beneficiaries. This fictionalized version of the operation focuses on the moment of decision when the two representatives of the US military are confronted with the meaning of their mission. Paperclip uses the authentic historical events as a substrate on which difficult questions can grow and develop, challenging viewers to look very closely at the raw reality of human behavior and its consequences.
Barry Eichengreen's lecture will analyze the operation of the Euro Area in retrospect and prospect. The standard framework used by economists to analyze the operation of monetary unions is the theory of optimum currency areas. Yet applying this theory to the first 17 years of the Eurozone produces some surprising findings. Asymmetric disturbances, traditionally thought to be a problem for the operation of a monetary union, are least when one compares Germany and the crisis countries (Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece, and Spain). This points to the importance of financial factors connecting these countries, both during the upswing (2000-07) and then during the crisis (2008- ). This finding raises the question of what to do, in terms of financial regulation and otherwise, to stabilize and enhance the operation of the Euro Area.