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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Department of Cultural History and Theory

After 1993

While the teaching and research area of History of Aesthetic Thinking (Renate Reschke) and the of Systematic Aesthetics (Karin Hirdina) were reappointed to candidates who had already taught at Humboldt University before the reform of the study program, the remaining professorships were newly appointed to four researchers, who, since the 1990s, have contributed greatly to the systematic profiling of Cultural History and Theory as a field of study, in a national as well as international context.

In addition to his research on the cultural history of nature and of the elements, on the anthropology of the senses and of emotions, as well as on the afterlife of antiquity, Hartmut Böhme has developed “a different theory of modernity” through his pioneering studies on the history and theory of fetishism. Time and again, Böhme’s publications have contributed to the debates around the status of Cultural History and Theory within the range of disciplines.

Christina von Braun has made a name for herself not only as a writer and film maker, but also with her research on gender theory in the context of Jewish, Christian and Islamic traditions, as well as with her contributions to feminist media theory.

With his programmatic claim of “driving the human out of the humanities” [“die Austreibung des Geistes aus den Geisteswissenschaften”], Friedrich A. Kittler set out to prove the media-technological a priori of the humanities. His aim was accordingly to write a history of media that proceeded from technical media. Kittler, who is considered to be one of the most influential German media theorists, helped establish media theory and media history as academic fields of study.

In turn, Thomas Macho has shaped the profile of Cultural History and Theory in Berlin with his influential studies on cultural techniques, on the history of chronology, on the cultural, visual and media history of death and on the history of cultural-technical modelling of the relationship between humans and animals.

With each of their individual research emphases and by establishing the same focus areas in both the Seminar of Aesthetics and the Seminar of Cultural History and Theory (Systematic Theory, History and Application), these professors shaped the study program of Magister Artium, which continued to attract more prospective students thanks to the breadth of its historical and systematic approach.

Following the drastic structural changes brought about by the “Bologna Reform”, a six-semester Bachelor of Arts program for Cultural History and Theory was offered for the first time in 2006. Together with the Archaeology Department, the cooperative BA-program of Archaeology and Cultural History and Theory was launched. Beginning in 2008, students could enrol for the Master of Arts in Cultural History and Theory as well, and in April 2009 the Seminar of Cultural History and Theory and the Seminar of Aesthetics were conjoined to form the new Department of Cultural History and Theory.

With the new appointment of four professorships, the Department of Cultural History and Theory has proceeded to a new generation of scholars.

Claudia Bruns has been professor of Historical Anthropology and Gender Studies since 2013. Her research focuses on the cultural history of the political, the history of sexuality and the body, the history of masculinities and male societies, conservative revolution, anti-Semitism and colonial racism, on the filmic memory of the holocaust and the discourses on space and borders in Europe since antiquity.

Iris Därmann was professor of History of Cultural Theories since 2009 and is now professor of Cultural Theory and Cultural History and Theory of Aesthetics. Her research emphases are on image practices and theories of the image, economies of gift exchange, political zoology and philosophy in the context of colonialism. She currently works on a project on the Cultural History of the Infamous that aligns modern service society with older traditions of serving and the servile, as well as with the history of slavery since antiquity.

Christian Kassung has been Professor of Cultural Techniques and History of Knowledge since 2006. His work focuses on the history of knowledge and cultural history of the natural sciences (with a focus on Physics), the history and practice of technical media as well as literary and cultural theory from the perspective of discourse analysis.

Wolfgang Schäffner has been Professor of Cultural History of Knowledge since 2009. His research emphases are on analog code, active matter, architectures of knowledge and interdisciplinary design; in addition, he is interested in the transfer of knowledge and technology between Europe and Latin America.