Diagnosing the Present

The KWI aims to provide profound analyses of the present age in the field of cultural studies and to incorporate them in collaborative research contexts and contemporary debates. For us, it seems important to epistemically and institutionally reflect upon the situation of the humanities, cultural studies and social sciences within the German and global science system. The duty to establish distinguished research also means acting as a forum for debate on cultural and science policy and policy-making. Debates that can arise in the Ruhr area but are not necessarily confined to it include: What are the consequences of applications for the Olympic Games, and is it possible to join big players in the league of major cities by agglomerating creative industries? How do you support the mobility of first-time academics? Do we need more humanities excellence clusters in NRW? How can the deeply entrenched parochial way of thinking in the Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan region be overcome in such a way that new funding instruments for the humanities and cultural studies emerge in the densest university landscape in Germany?

Since April 2018, the KWI has also been offering new topics and formats to the city public. The panel discussion “Relotius Reloaded? The Limits of Storytelling in Journalism, Literature and Science” in February 2019 dealt with the boom in narrative-based journalism; a symposium in September 2019 was devoted to the question of “How much storytelling do the humanities, cultural studies and social sciences need?”. In the series “Small Feelings”, “Medioc­rity” and “The Big Picture”, various cultural studies approaches were recombined; in October 2019, a round table discussion entitled “Poor but edifying? About the photographic praxis of Sebastiāo Salgado” talked about the current Peace Prize winner of the German Book Trade. On the occasion of new publications, the KWI regularly invites researchers to discuss their work with the public. Historian Jörn Leonhard spoke about his study “Overcharged peace. Versailles and the World 1918–1923”. In October 2019, Jill Lepore, Harvard lecturer in history and staff writer at The New Yorker magazine, presented her highly acclaimed book “These Truths. History of the United States of America”. Jill Lepore’s lecture marked the beginning of her reading tour in Germany, which included only a few stops.