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Durham University

Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies (IMEMS)

Event Archive

Enlightenment (in a time of crisis): Germany

10th July 2020, 16:30 to 17:45

This workshop is part of a series of online events arranged in lieu of the full Durham Early Modern Conference, which will return 6-8 July 2021

Speakers and Abstracts

Chair: Frank Grunert (Martin Luther University)

Thomas Wallnig (University of Vienna)

Aufklärung digital. A survey of digital research on the German Enlightenment

The “digital turn” has affected research on the German Enlightenment in a moment of disciplinary fragmentation, and academic marginalization. On the other hand, more advanced digital research on the Enlightenment, especially in Anglo-American academia, has provided useful methodological blueprints for what can be achieved (and what not) by means of computer-based analysis, and has thus offered valid reference models for several initiatives in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

In my presentation I will attempt a structured overview of these initiatives, in that I will distinguish between predominantly prosopographical, bibliometric, correspondence- and text-based projects. This will help me place these projects in their respective academic contexts and traditions, and thus argue for overcoming fragmentation while maintaining methodological commitment.

Shaun Blanchard (Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University, Baton Rouge, LA)

Catholic Enlightenment and the Many Reformist “Isms” in the German-speaking and Habsburg World, 1750–1800

Scholars have identified a bewildering number of overlapping reform phenomena in the Catholic German-speaking and Habsburgs lands in the latter half of the eighteenth-century: Febronianism, episcopalism, Josephinism, Muratorian reform, Reformkatholizismus, and “late” Jansenism. Each of these phenomena are linked to the “Catholic Enlightenment”, and it is commonplace to describe the protagonists as “enlightened.”

This essay explores the extent to which the Catholic Enlightenment is a helpful or necessary category for understanding religious aspirations and changes in these territories. Is talk of a Catholic Enlightenment in this period indispensable, or are these phenomena better understood as a kind of Jansenist-Erastian reformism that was put to great use by prince-bishops and secular lords in order to reform and improve their territories, and increase their own authority vis-à-vis the pope and Curia?

Tobias Heinrich (University of Kent)

Geselligkeit als Aufklärung. Friendship and Sociability in German Enlightenment

Drawing on the emergent field of Friendship Studies, this paper will examine how an emphatic idea of friendship helped to shape the social and communicative practices of German Enlightenment in contrast to older concepts like the Republic of Letters. It will investigate the paradigm shift from social relationships as a token of utility to friendship as a sign of virtue, prominently championed by the Johann Fürchtegott Gellert in his 'Moralische Vorlesungen'. By the example of Johann Wilhelm Ludwig Gleim and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, it will discuss how letters became a central medium for the exploration of the self in dialogue with the other and finally, the contrast between Gleim and Rahel Levin-Varnhagen will serve to elucidate the role of gender in friendships as well as their evolution on the cusp of the Age of Romanticism.