International Conference at the University of Luxembourg, 10-13 September 2017
The humanities can be described as documenting and exploring cultural heritage. This choice of focus – on the past, on heritage – promotes a vision of the humanities as divorced from the social realities and issues of both the present and the future. The conference "The Ends of the Humanities" seeks to counteract this preconception and to underline the various ways in which the humanities engage with the future and inform ongoing cultural processes; at the same time, it acknowledges that to ensure their survival, the humanities must reach beyond established traditions in teaching and research.
As a starting point for reflection, we posit that the humanities have a general responsibility towards society and that one of their mandates is to preserve the cultural skills and knowledge societies depend on. In this sense, the humanities act as a learning hub of sorts: they foster a form of active examination of the past in relation to the present and the future, and thereby extend the scope of the thinkable. Hence, scholars in the humanities and in the social sciences are both researchers and teachers in a more complex sense than other scientists: their role is to reveal alternatives in dealing with current issues and future challenges. It is, however, necessary to consider in greater detail how the humanities can serve their obligation towards society: what are their specific functions? What was their role in the past, and which obligations will they be expected to meet in the future? Most importantly, however, how can we implement the functions of the humanities, both old and new, in current and future research programs and teaching concepts?
In order to cement the humanities’ relevance to society, this conference enquires into the ends, or the rationalities, of research in the humanities. In a fundamental sense, rationality, the rational, ratio, involves the relation of one thing to another. Our approach is based on the assumption that the prospective and forward-thinking character of the humanities and their willingness to engage in the problems of the present relies on this particular definition of the rational. Another premise of this conference is that, in the humanities and the social sciences, the act of combining and relating disparate issues or ideas is both central and accomplished in many different ways. More specifically, we aim to examine how individual fields position themselves in relation to different social issues in the humanities – and which areas need to be developed further. We will investigate the relationship between the humanities on the one hand, and ethics, cultural and social politics, the education system, the law, the economy, new technologies and other sciences, on the other. Finally, we will address the extent to which the humanities can, and should, aspire to the label of ‘science’.
Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht (Stanford) and Jürgen Fohrmann (Bonn) have, among others, confirmed their participation as keynote speakers. The conference will consist of a panel discussion, a series of plenary lectures, and three parallel sections with more specific presentations. These sections will be devoted to the relation of the humanities to other disciplines (Section I), to the relation of the humanities to society in general (Section II) and to more specific prospects that the humanities offer today (Section III).
Planned sections and potential topics (could be extended):
1.The Humanities and the (other) Sciences
Humanities and Empirical Sciences / Social Sciences / Education…
2.The Humanities and Society
Humanities and Politics / Economy / Law / Religion …
Humanities and / as Cultural Memory
Ethics of the Humanities‚Societal Challenges‘ as a Research Programme
Multilingualism / Interculturality
Prospective speakers are invited to submit abstracts of no more than 500 words by 15 February 2017 to email@example.com. Applications should be written in English, French or German.
During the conference, simultaneous translation will be provided into English, French, and German. A publication of the conference papers is planned.
Organiser: Faculty of Language and Literature, Humanities, Arts and Education, Prof. Dr Georg Mein, University of Luxembourg
Contact: Dr Isbell Baumann, University of Luxembourg, Campus Belval, 11, Porte des Sciences, L-4366 Esch/Alzette, Phone: +352 46 66 44 9331, firstname.lastname@example.org