Theory as Event: Epistemic Cultures and Humanistic Knowledge Production in Germany since 1968

26th Biennial St. Louis Symposium on German Literature and Culture

About the Symposium

Even as theoretical knowledge aspires by its very nature to timeless validity, it is clear the success of particular ideas at particular historical moments depends on a complex assemblage of institutional, historical, political, material, and medial factors. Elucidating these factors has been a central preoccupation of science studies for several decades, with more recent work expanding the scope of such investigations beyond the natural sciences to include disciplinary paradigms in the humanities as well as diverse forms of popular knowing. The German context in particular has seen a rise in “praxeological” approaches to understanding the production, representation, and reception of humanistic knowledge, approaches that address the singular events as well as the everyday practices that give rise to new intellectual frameworks and allow them to capture the imagination of academics and intellectuals. Building on this research and extending it in new directions, “Theory as Event” reconsiders the so-called age of theory as it took shape in the German-speaking world. Shifting attention from the explication of individual works to the events and institutional practices through which knowledge is created, established, and diffused, our aim is not only to offer a fresh perspective on key moments in German intellectual history since 1968, but also to model a range of new approaches to the history of ideas.