An important question for our conference will be: has the impact of the imagination changed in the 21st century? And if so, in which way? In this context it is necessary to reassess the workings of the imagination both in their anthropological and cultural dimensions and in particular the ways in which they are shaped by and shaping modern media.
What are the indispensable gifts of the imagination? Starting with a brief exegesis of a few lines from Shakespeare, I will try to identify and com-ment on five essential gifts of the imagination (irrespective of the fact whether they are used in a creative or receptive context):
1. Presenting what is trans- and counter-evidential,
2. making palpable and giving a substance to what is abstract,
3. introducing structure, order and framework into a chaotic mass of data,
4. inducing life and spirit into what is dead,
5. forming an image.
Aleida Assmann studied Anglo-American Literature and Egyptology at the universities of Heidelberg and Tübingen. She is professor of Anglo-American and Comparative Literature at Konstanz University since 1993 and was Fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin in 1998/1999. In 1999 she was awarded the Forschungspreis für Geisteswissenschaften der Philip-Morris-Stiftung; she held several guest professorships at the Universities of Princeton (2001) and Yale (2002, 2003, 2005). Areas of research: History of reading, historical anthropology of the media with special focus on the theory and history of writing, and the collective memory.
Major publications: Die Legitimität der Fiktion (1980), Arbeit am nationalen Gedächtnis. Eine kurze Geschichte der deutschen Bildungsidee (1993), Zeit und Tradition (1999), Erinnerungsräume. Formen und Wandlungen des kulturellen Gedächtnisses (1999, 3rd ed. 2006), Das kulturelle Gedächtnis an der Milleniumsschwelle. Krise und Zukunft der Bildung (2004), Einführung in die Kulturwissenschaft. Grundbegriffe, Themen, Fragestellungen (2006), Der lange Schatten der Vergangenheit. Erinnerungskultur und Geschichtspolitik (2006).