CfP, 3rd International Chamisso Conference „Worldwide Journeys: Recording, preserving, passing on – Forster, Humboldt, Chamisso“ (February 24-26, 2016

Deadline CfP: July 1st, 2015

Conference dates: February 24-26, 2016

Venue: Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin – Preußischer Kulturbesitz
Potsdamer Str. 33, 10785 Berlin, Germany

The 3rd International Chamisso Conference is dedicated to (worldwide)journeys that started from Germany around 1800. The names Reinhold and Georg Forster, Alexander von Humboldt and Adelbert von Chamisso can be identified with a widening of the intellectual horizon in the German speaking countries that did not only mark the beginning of the modernity but essentially contributed to its definition. The reference to the mentioned travelers is therefore important for the development of modern orders of knowledge. Moreover, it can be made useful as a starting point for shifting the focal point in understanding our own present and future. In the context of a post-national Europe we may look at Forster’s, Humboldt’s and Chamisso’s command of various languages and their experiences as ‘travelers’, as ‘foreigners’, as ‘nomads’, and as migrants. In light of current debates on the Anthropocene, it is interesting to investigate the close epistemological relationship of the concepts nature and culture in the works of the travelers. Dealing with these concepts does not depict subjects who pass through a motionless topography, but rather the mobility and flexibility of categories such as „Prussia“, „Europe“, „Empiricism“ „World“, or „Modernity“.

List of vocabulary and 6 landscape drawings. Literary Estate Adelbert von Chamisso, K. 3, Nr. 23, Bl. 4. Berlin State Library - Prussian Cultural Heritage (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 DE)
List of vocabulary and 6 landscape drawings. Literary Estate Adelbert von Chamisso, K. 3, Nr. 23, Bl. 4. Berlin State Library – Prussian Cultural Heritage (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 DE)

Besides their well-known publications the mentioned authors have left texts, sketches, drawings, as well as artefacts and natural history objects in collections, which in recent years have increasingly become a pivot of scientific research. They objectify a thematic array between the notion and semantics of nature and culture – fauna and flora in the countries visited, landscapes, cartography, the idea of humanity around 1800. These themes have to be related to the formats in which they appear: journals, notebooks, sketchbooks, paintings, correspondences, collections. They propel hermeneutic tasks and ask for methods of conservation and scholarly edition which, as current basic research, adopt means, methods and perspectives of the digital humanities and incorporate them into the historical interpretation.

The conference will take place at the closure of the exhibition „Weltreise“ which is going to be presented by the Berlin State Library jointly with the film-maker Ulrike Ottinger. The conference will be organized by the Berlin State Library in cooperation with the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities, the University of Potsdam, and the Chamisso Society.

Contributions are welcome that deal with one or more of the mentioned authors and/or are related to methodological or systematic questions in the given context. These may include:

  • Contributions on selected aspects of the authors’ works focusing on landscape, animals, plants, or anthropology.
  • Contributions on the published travel reports or their preliminary stages or additions in journals, notes, sketches.
  • Contributions on collections of natural history objects and artefacts.
  • Contributions on the literary estates, especially on scientific/literary networks and correspondents.
  • Contributions on traditional and digital editing projects in the context of manuscripts, travel journals and/or scientific collections.

The organizers will make an effort to sponsor the authors’ stay and travel expenses.

Conference languages are German, English, and French.

The papers should not be longer than 20 – 25 minutes. Please send your abstract (max. 500 words) before July 1st 2015 to:

Dr. Jutta Weber
Berlin State Library – Prussian Cultural Heritage
Potsdamer Str. 33, 10785 Berlin
Tel.: +49-(0)30-266-435100


Dr. Julian Drews
University of Potsdam – Department of Romance Philology
Am Neuen Palais 10, 14469 Potsdam
Tel. +49 (0)331-977 1815


Dr. Jutta Weber,
Berlin State Library – Prussian Cultural Heritage

Prof. Dr. Ottmar Ette,
University of Potsdam – Department of Romance Philology

Dr. Julian Drews,
University of Potsdam – Department of Romance Philology

Dr. Tobias Kraft,
Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities

Tobias Kraft

Tobias Kraft ++ Redaktionsleitung (früher Humboldt im Netz) seit 2001 sowie Mitglied im Editorial Board des Open Access Journals HiN - Internationale Zeitschrift für Humboldt-Studien seit 2002 ++ Studium der Romanistik, Germanistik, Medienwissenschaft und Geschichte an der Universität Bonn und an der Universität Potsdam ++ 2008-2013 Promotion zu Alexander von Humboldt am Lehrstuhl für französisch- und spanischsprachige Literatur (Prof. Dr. Ottmar Ette), Institut für Romanistik, Universität Potsdam ++ seit Januar 2015 Arbeitsstellenleiter im Langzeitvorhaben "Alexander von Humboldt auf Reisen – Wissenschaft aus der Bewegung" (AvH-R) an der Berlin-Brandenburgischen Akademie der Wissenschaften

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