Samstag, 6.7.2024, 12:30h

Aleida Assmann

Can the Enlightenment Enlighten Itself?

The Enlightenment is noted for two innovations that turned into two foundation-al legacies for our present world: the creation of a culture based on scientific principles and progress, and a new framework for self-reflexive and self-critical thinking. Both innovations have changed the world and have paved the historical path towards Western exceptionalism. In my talk, I ask whether it is possible to overcome the exclusionary force of Western exceptionalism without giving up the values and achievements of the Enlightenment. My answer is yes, and to substantiate my claim, I will focus on the concept of enlightening by introducing a distinction between “blank spaces” and “blind spots.”

Aleida Assmann
was Chair of English Literature and Literary Theory at the University of Konstanz from 1993 to 2014, and has taught as a guest professor at various international universities. The main areas of her research include history of media, the history and theory of reading, and cultural memory, with a special emphasis on Holocaust and trauma. Together with her late husband, Jan Assmann, she received the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade in 2018. She was made a corresponding fellow at the British Academy in 2021. Her publications in English include Memory in a Global Age: Discourses, Practices, and Trajectories (ed. with Sebastian Conrad, 2010), Cultural Memory and Western Civilization: Functions, Media, Archives (2012), Shadows of Trauma: Memory and the Politics of Postwar Identity (2016), and Is the Time Out of Joint? On the Rise and Fall of the Modern Time Regime (2020).

Veranstaltung in englischer Sprache