Tuesday, March 03, 2015, 07:30 pm | Humanities
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From “Chaos” to Wikipedia: Encyclopedic Kinds in the Renaissance and After

In his lecture, Christopher Johnson considers “kinds” or genres of encyclopedic writing in the late Renaissance and beyond. He tracks the shifts in encyclopedism in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries from being a pedagogic, humanist ideal whereby an individual mastered the liberal arts, to becoming a material, but perforce imperfectible, object (a book, library, or Wunderkammer) that would contain all there was to know about a subject or all subjects. Johnson addresses encyclopedic writing in light of the Fall, the revival of Skepticism, the epistemological revolutions precipitated by the “new philosophies” of Bacon and Descartes, the explosion of empirical facts, and the “flood” of printed books. To this end, he weighs how encyclopedic genres – from the miscellany or chaos to the “meta”-encyclopedia – can be both conservative and heuristic, retrospective and progressive, highlighting along the way how the encyclopedic impulse survives and thrives beyond the Renaissance: whether owing to Francis Bacon and the Encyclopédie, the role that encyclopedism plays in the history of the novel (from Cervantes to Sterne to Queneau), to how digital encyclopedism, with its collaborative, archival possibilities, and with its now utopic, now ironic rhetoric of completion, has reinvented and reanimated both the idealism and the pathos of Renaissance encyclopedism.

Thursday, March 12, 2015, 07:30 pm | Media
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The Cultural Work of Algorithms

At a moment when millions of algorithmically generated stories circulate in the news, when collaborative textual systems challenge established ideas of point-of-view and authorship, and when algorithmic gatekeepers shape cultural access, it behooves us to think more critically about algorithms and their work. William Uricchio’s lecture takes up this challenge, considering algorithms as cultural practices and reflecting on their operations, implications, and distinctions from the logics of the Modern.

Although Euclid’s algorithms still circulate today, by the second half of the twentieth century, thanks to computation and widespread digitization, algorithms took on new purpose, possibility and form, playing an ever more active role in cultural production. Put to the task of personalization, enabling large-scale collaboration and facilitating the creation of new collectivities, they seem poised to destabilize the old certainties bound up in the subject-object relationships of the Modern. In the process, Uricchio argues, the use of algorithms raises questions regarding the contingency of viewing position; notions of agency, representation and textual stability; and the cultural character of technology and the distinctions between the exact and humanistic sciences. How, in a basic way, can one begin a critical discourse of the algorithmic (and have better odds than critiquing the modern from within the late Middle Ages)?

Tuesday, March 17, 2015, 07:30 pm | Social Sciences
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Being German, Becoming Muslim: Race, Religion, and Conversion in the New Europe

Every year more and more Europeans are embracing Islam. It is estimated that there are now up to one hundred thousand German converts, a number similar to that in France and the United Kingdom. What stands out about recent conversions is that they take place at a time when Islam is increasingly seen as contrary to European values. In her new book, Being German, Becoming Muslim (Princeton, December 2014), Esra Özyürek explores how Germans come to Islam within this antagonistic climate, how they manage to balance their love for Islam with their society’s fear of it, how they relate to immigrant Muslims, and how they shape debates about race, religion, and belonging in today’s Europe. In conversation with Yasemin Shooman, of the Jewish Museum Berlin, she will discuss how mainstream society marginalizes converts, questions national loyalties, how converts try to disassociate themselves from migrants of Muslim-majority countries, and how they promote a denationalized Islamuntainted by Turkish or Arab traditions.

Generously supported by Daimler-Fonds

Thursday, March 19, 2015, 07:30 pm | Arts and Culture
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The Bauhaus: A Study in Balance – A Book of Poems

Mary Jo Bang will read poems written in response to Bauhaus photographs, drawings, letters, and other artifacts of Weimar culture. Some of the Bauhaus poems use Lucia Moholy, the first wife of Laszlo Moholy-Nagy and the official Bauhaus photographer from 1924–1928, as the basis of an invented persona. Bang will also discuss how she use artworks and other material in her poetic practice—especially how she employs these sources as the basis for imagined stage sets in front of which speakers are placed like characters in a scene from a play. From that vantage point, the speakers address aspects of the world from which they are drawn, as well as issues that are relevant in the here and now.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015, 08:00 pm | Arts and Culture

Based on the Book: On Literature and the Cinema

Writer Tom Drury's most recent novel, The Driftless Area, is the story of Pierre Hunter, a young bartender with unfailing optimism, a fondness for coin tricks, and an uncanny capacity for finding trouble. When he falls in love, with the mysterious and isolated Stella Rosmarin, Pierre becomes the central player in a revenge drama he must unravel and bring to its shocking conclusion. At the Literaturhaus Stuttgart, Drury reads from The Driftless Area and discusses his work with Pamela Rosenberg, former dean of fellows at the American Academy.

Moderated by Pamela Rosenberg, Former Dean of Fellows, American Academy in Berlin

Location: Literaturhaus Stuttgart, Breitscheidstraße 4, 70174 Stuttgart

Tickets (€ 9): info@literaturhaus-stuttgart.de or 01805-70 07 33

In cooperation with the Literaturhaus Stuttgart

Generously supported by the Robert Bosch Stiftung GmbH, Holtzbrinck Publishing Group, and the Berthold Leibinger Stiftung GmbH


Thursday, March 26, 2015, 07:30 pm | Foreign Policy
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Barack Obama’s Foreign Policy in the Middle East and Europe

In this lecture, The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg will examine Middle East policy through the prism of President Obama’s years in office, the subject of his forthcoming 2016 book from Simon & Schuster, and also address how the administration has managed relations with Europe. Goldberg’s goal, he says, is to explain what he terms “the diabolical complexities” of the US involvement in the Middle East. “I’ve been curious for a long time about why the Middle East defeats presidents, and it is instructive and fascinating to watch President Obama try to escape the fate of many of his predecessors.”

Tuesday, March 31, 2015, 07:30 pm |
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Text Destruction in the Bible and the Ancient World

Historian Nathaniel Levtow will explore the politically charged phenomenon of text destruction in the ancient world, from the beginnings of writing to the formation of the Bible. He will present archaeological and literary evidence of the variety of ways in which war memorials, law codes, magic spells, loan documents, international treaties, inscribed statues, and other text-artifacts were strategically burned, smashed, cut, buried, submerged, eaten, abducted, erased, and rewritten in West Asian and Mediterranean antiquity. This evidence reveals the deep connections between religion, politics, images, and rewriting at the dawn of literacy, and illuminates why the public, physical violation of texts remains a preferred mode of attack against representations of political power and cultural identity throughout the world today.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015, 07:30 pm | Arts and Culture
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An Evening of Music & Conversation with the Klemperer Trio

Formed in 1980, the Klemperer Trio is a chamber ensemble with a repertoire spanning musical styles from classical to contemporary. The trio consists of Erika Klemperer, violin; Ronald Crutcher, violoncello; and Gordon Back, piano.

Moderated by Michael Naumann, former German minister of culture and currently CEO of the Barenboim-Said Academy.

Thursday, April 16, 2015, 07:30 pm | Humanities
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Gender, War, and Memory: Women and the Military during and after World War II

During World War II, women’s military service became increasingly important for all war powers: the German Wehrmacht deployed more than 500,000 female auxiliaries; Britain, approximately 600,000; the US, 350,000; and in the Soviet Union, 800,000, over half on the front lines. Historian Karen Hagemann explores the various ways by which women were mobilized for the military in the mid-twentieth century, compare their contested perception in the contemporary public -- and, curiously, their suppressed place in collective postwar memories.