POSTPONED – Enlightenment Futures: Conference at Humboldt University Berlin, 18-20 March 2020

POSTPONED – On 11 March, the Berlin mayor has mandated that all events at the Berlin universities must be cancelled effective immediately. This means that next week’s workshop will unfortunately not take place.


“Enlightenment Futures” is the second international conference and workshop event organised by The Berlin-Oxford Enlightenment Hub. Constituted in 2018, the Enlightenment Hub is one of the 29 collaborative projects to have been awarded funding as part of the Oxford-Berlin Research Partnership. The Enlightenment Hub brings together Oxford and the Berlin universities and allows them to pool their significant strengths in this area spanning the disciplines of English, History, Philosophy, Theology, Modern Languages, History of Science, Social and Political Sciences. The collaboration also involves institutions such as the Voltaire Foundation and University museums and collections, the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, and the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences, amongst others.

Participation is free but registration is necessary. For further information, or to register for the event, please contact: Felix Woywode (


Programme (also available in pdf here):

Wednesday, 14:30-16:00 

Introduction (10 minutes) 

Presentations + discussions based on pre-circulated texts (10 + 15 minutes each) 

Stefan Willer, Berlin, German: 

‘The author and his afterlife: Klopstock’s futuristic poetry’ 

Text: extracts from Klopstock’s odes from the 1740s. (25 minutes) 

Jessica Goodman, Oxford, French: 

‘Imagined afterlives: posterity in the dialogue des morts’ 

Text: extracts from Fontenelle’s Dialogues des morts. (25 minutes) 

Matthias Pohlig, Berlin, History: 

‘Ends and Futures: Enlightenment apocalypse between science and satire’ 

Text: extracts from Jonathan Swift’s A True and Faithful Narrative of What pass’d in London during the general Consternation of all Ranks and Degrees of Mankind; On Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday Last (1736) (25 minutes) 

16:00-16:30 coffee break 


Vincent Roy-di Piazza, Oxford, History of Science: 

‘Geister anderer Erden’: extra-terrestrial afterlife in Swedenborg’s De Telluribus in mundo nostro solari (1758) 

Text: Verses §126 (extract n°1), §97, §98, §99 and §100 (extract n°2) from Emanuel Swedenborg’s De Telluribus in Mundo Nostro Solari, London 1758. Extracts in original Latin with English translation by John Chadwick, 1997. (25 minutes) 

Discussion on possible future projects/directions. (35 minutes) 


Thursday, 9:00-10:00 

Theories of Practice (Barry Murnane, Oxford, and Gemma Tidman, Oxford) 

Discussions of: 

Pierre Bourdieu: Outline of a Theory of Practice (extract) (frz. 1972; engl. 1977) (30 min) 

Andreas Reckwitz: Toward a Theory of Social Practices. A Development in Culturalist Theorizing (2002) (30 min) 


Enlightening Practices: How and why ‘the enlightenment’ dealt with practices (Mark-Georg Dehrmann, HU Berlin) 

Discussion of: Christian Gottlob Täubel: Orthotypographisches Handbuch (extract) (1785) 


coffee break 


Practices of Enlightenment (Stefanie Stockhorst, Potsdam) 

Broader discussion on the dimensions and potentials of praxeology for 18c studies Basis: Stefanie Stockhorst: Doing Enlightenment (2018) 

Marian Füssel: Praxeologische Perspektiven in der Frühneuzeitforschung (2015) 



Lothar Schilling (Augsburg), ‘State reform through knowledge circulation: remarks on an Enlightened concept’ 

Avi Lifschitz (Oxford), ‘Criticism in print as means of reform? Frederick the Great and the Prussian public sphere’ 

Fidel Jose Tavarez (FU, Berlin), ‘Calculating to Govern: Numbers and Empirical Statecraft in the Eighteenth-Century Spanish Atlantic’ 

Jakob Vogel (Centre Marc Bloch, Berlin), ‘In the dusk of Enlightened reform: A. von Humboldt, J.B. Boussingault and the Latin American mining boom of the 1820s and 1830s’ 



Howard Hotson (Oxford), ‘Toward a Data Model for the Republic of Letters as a Whole’ 

Philip Beeley (Oxford), ‘Modelling the Royal Society of London in its Infancy’ 

Annelie Grosse (BBAW), ‘Prospects for Studying the Correspondence of Jean Henri Samuel Formey (1711- 1797)’ 

Lena Zlock (Oxford), ‘The Voltaire Library Project and Pursuit of a Generic Library Model’ 

Maria Federbusch (SBB), ‘The Berlin State Library’s Eighteenth-Century Collections – Digitization and Data’ 


Friday, 9:00-12:00 

1. Introduction: The prize questions of the French academies – subjects, participants and intellectual agendas (approx. 20 min., Martin Urmann) 

2. The rhetorical tradition and the critique of science: the 1755 Académie française prix d’éloquence and the 1772 Académie de Besançon prix d’éloquence; close reading and discussion of the selected prize essays; approx. 70 min.) 

3. Of philosophers and princes: the 1787 Académie française prize (presentation (Catriona Seth) and discussion approx. 60 min.) 


Organization: Mark-Georg Dehrmann (executive), Avi Lifschitz, Barry Murnane, and Anita Traninger for the Oxford-Berlin Enlightenment Hub 

Generously supported and hosted by: 

The Oxford-Berlin Partnership 

Institut für deutsche Literatur, HU Berlin 

The Voltaire Foundation, Oxford 

The University of Oxford 

Voltaire Foundation

We use cookies to help give you the best experience on our website. By continuing without changing your cookie settings, we assume you agree to this. Please read our cookie policy to find out more. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.