Faculty of Humanities

Congresses and Conferences

In 2015, the research group Ambiguity and Difference: Historical and Cultural Dynamics (initial funding: Stiftung Mercator) was formed at the Faculty of Humanities. A one-day conference took place in June 2015, discussing the conception of the project with invited participants from Sociology, Art History, Islamic Studies, History and Literary Studies. Members of the research group are Prof. Frank Becker, Prof. Barbara Buchenau, Prof. Gabriele Genge, Prof. Kader Konuk, Prof. Christoph Marx, Prof. Patricia Plummer, Prof. Benjamin Scheller and Prof. Jörg Wesche. A full application for DFG is being prepared at present. The project focuses on different forms and facets of ambiguity with regard to gender, ethnicity, and religion in different historical, cultural, social, and national contexts.

Questions concerning the correlation between gender, gender roles, violence and war in an intercultural comparison are currently highly topical. They reflect irritations caused by images and reports of female soldiers in Northern Syria and armed women with full-face veils in the so-called IS. While contemporary historians frequently deal with this complex of issues, it has remained widely unregarded for the Middle Ages. This research gap was addressed at the interdisciplinary conference Violence, War and Gender in the Middle Ages in Hannover in July 2016, chaired by Prof. Amalie Fößel (History Department; funding: VW Stiftung). The conference looked at different discourses and constructions of gender in the context of war and violence (4th to 16th centuries) and analysed a variety of perceptions and evaluations across different political, cultural and religious spaces. Particular emphasis was put on those areas where Christian and Islamic cultures met (conference proceedings in preparation).

Proclamations and acts of border crossing and transgression have been markers of the self-empowerment of the modern Western gendered subject since the Age of Enlightenment, and have become defining features in modern art, literature, and popular culture. While aesthetic revolt and sexual or religious taboo-breaking were part of the self-image of the avant-garde well into the 1960s, in recent times it is especially the globally-acting visual media that seem to have become independent agents themselves. They have become targets of much criticism, disrupting the self-certitude of the ideology of western Modernity. In 2015, the UDE’s interdisciplinary lecture series in diversity studies, Transgression and Excess, examined the phenomenon of border violation from a transdisciplinary and transcultural perspective. Experts from the fields of American Studies, Anglophone Studies, Germanic Studies, History, Islamic Studies, Craft and Media, Didactics of Art, and Art History took part in the 2015 series (organisers: Prof. Gabriele Genge (Art and Art History)/Prof. Patricia Plummer (Anglophone Studies) in cooperation with UDE’s Vice Rectorate for Diversity Management and Essen College of Gender Studies).

In March 2016, the conference Narratives of Fear took place at the Department for Germanic Studies (Dr. Corinna Schlicht, UDE, in cooperation with Dr. Christian Steltz, University of Regensburg; funding: ThyssenStiftung). Be it global economic crisis or the September 11 attacks on the WTC: the hegemonic balance of power was heavily disrupted after the turn of the millennium. Globalisation has created different discourses of fear related to the changes the postmodern subject feels exposed to. They are mirrored in different media as narratives of fear and of the dissolution of boundaries. Literature, film, plays, print and social media are to be understood as platforms of cultural self-reflexion and formed the focal point of the conference (conference proceedings in preparation).

In July 2016, literary theorists and linguists from the Universities of Khabarovsk, Vladivostok and Blagovescensk came together at UDE at the conference Building Bridges. Dialogue of German and Russian Germanic Studies (Prof. Jörg Wesche, Prof. Wolfgang Imo; Germanic Studies, funding: DAAD). The meeting was part of a department partnership promoted by DAAD; its main topics were gender and interculturalism.