What is a Thing: Key Approaches in Modern German Literature & Thought

Knight Library Browsing Room 106
University of Oregon
February 20-21, 2014


Although the question of what constitutes a Thing is an ancient one, it is pressing today in a number of humanities fields: for example, in literary studies, "material culture studies" continue, and the broader question of the historical contextualization of literature in a world of things remains an important but multiply vexed one; in continental philosophical work, "object-oriented philosophy" and other new post-post-structuralist directions have arrived in search of new non-Heideggerian models of referentiality; and in the real world global crises of economy and environment, the human situation is raising with a new urgency the question, "What is a 'Thing'?" and to invite papers that explore interpretively from today's perspective various key responses to this question since the Romantic period.


Keyenote Speaker: Jonathan Monroe, Cornell University

Additional speakers will be announced soon.

All Conferences are free and open to the public.

For more information please contact Nick Reynolds - nickr@uoregon.edu


Defining the Human and the Animal


During the high point of German idealism from the end of the eighteenth through the first
half of the nineteenth century German philosophers and writers imagined the human as a
mixture between angel and animal. They emphasized the spiritual qualities of the human
over the base instincts of the animal. Such efforts to preserve the reign of the spirit over
the body are particularly pronounced in the German context and can be seen as reactions
to materialist and empiricist assumptions that were gaining momentum with the emerging
life sciences. The ideological implications of such attempts to safeguard human sovereignty
are the focus of the conference. It will explore literary, scientific, and philosophical endeavors at defining and redefining the borders between the human and the animal from the late eighteenth century up to the twentieth century.


Fritz Breithaupt, Indiana University; Ken Calhoon, University of Oregon; David A. Craig, University of Oregon; Joseph Fracchia, University of Oregon; Sander Gliboff, Indiana University; Gail Hart, University of California - Irvine; Todd Kontje, University of California - San Diego; Christine Lehleiter, University of Toronto; Alexander Mathäs, University of Oregon; Dorothee Ostmeier, University of Oregon; Ted Toadvine, University of Oregon.

All Conferences are free and open to the public.

For more information please contact Alexander Mathäs - mathaesa@uoregon.edu


Defining the Human and the Animal
Knight Library Browsing Room
University of Oregon
May 2-3, 2013

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