Professor Burkhardt Wolf (Berlin/Santa Barbara) will give a talk titled "Compasso. Poetic orientation in modernity's 'grand sea of being'" from 4-6 p.m. in Dwinelle 282.


For centuries, perhaps since the emergence of poetry itself, Western culture has engaged in the project of "writing the sea," or hydrography, and within this project the compass has played a fundamental role. The talk serves as a brief introduction into the cultural history of the compass and shows how, ever since its first use, the compass has guided specific techniques of writing and notation and has been both poetically and epistemically productive. It argues this claim through a historical argument reaching from Dante’s reception of the Odyssey and Ripa’s Iconologia to Bacon, who considered the compass one of his age’s emblems, and to the technological thinking of Heisenberg and Heidegger.


Burkhardt Wolf, born in 1969, studied German literature, philosophy, and sociology at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich (MA 1997) and Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (PhD 2003). He has taught at the Bauhaus-Universität Weimar and at the Humboldt-Universität. His Habilitationsschrift on Seefahrt und Literatur, completed in 2012 at Humboldt-Universität, has just been published. Currently, he is Kade Visiting Professor at UC Santa Barbara. Professor Wolf has published widely on German and European literature from the 17th to the 20th century.

Topics of his publications include sovereignty and governmentality, political representation and social technologies, danger and risk, violence and religion, or the cultural and literary history of seafaring and the sea. Monographs include "Sorge des Souveräns: Eine Diskursgeschichte des Opfers" (2004) and "Fortuna di mare. Literatur und Seefahrt" (2013).

Ulrich Tiedau will lead a workshop on "Text- and Sentiment-Mining for Historical Cultural Enquiry" from 2-4 p.m. in Dwinelle 282.

The workshop will discuss the promises and challenges of 'big data' and digital methods for historical and cultural enquiry. Text mining and sentiment mining open up the perspective of a quantitative approach to the history of mentalities, allowing researchers to discover long-term developments and turning points in public debates, as well as to map vectors of cross-cultural influences.

Examples will be drawn from the Asymmetrical Encounters project (2013–16), which tries to answer the question how during the 19th and 20th centuries the large and cultural powerful countries Britain, France, and Germany influenced public debates in smaller countries like the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg, and the "Translantis" project which traces the emergence of the United States as a reference culture for the Netherlands, 1890–1990.

Ulrich Tiedau is a Senior Lecturer in Modern Low Countries history and society at the Department of Dutch and an Associate Director of the Centre for Digital Humanities at University College London.

The lecture will be in English.

Aleida Assmann (Konstanz) will present a lecture titled "From Collective Violence to a Common Future: Four Models for Dealing with a Traumatic Past."

Since the end of the Second World War, we have witnessed different memory policies in dealing with a traumatic past. The first, "dialogic forgetting," a very old policy dating back to antiquity, was practiced especially after civil wars. The opposite form, "perpetual culture of remembrance," is a historical novelty that took center stage only four decades after the Holocaust. A third model was introduced in the early 1990s with the Truth and Reconciliation commissions in South Africa, following the principle "to remember to overcome." There is yet a fourth model of "dialogic remembering," which applies to different nations that are entangled in a history of excessive violence; they mutually acknowledge their responsibility for each other’s suffering and respect the memory of their victims.  This last model is not yet a practiced reality but could potentially help overcome some of the memory clashes in Europe and elsewhere.

Organized by: Deniz Göktürk, Chair of the Department of German.

Co-sponsored by the Department of German at the University of California, Berkeley, the Multicultural Germany Project, the Moving Europe Project, the Institute for International Studies, and the Goethe-Institut San Francisco.