Regarding Culture

This working group proposes the reassessment of a term that lies at the heart of the study of each and every discipline in the humanities: Culture. We will dedicate the first weeks to a consideration of the historical and conceptual consolidation of “cultural studies” as a scholarly discipline in the early 20th century while tracing the underlying explicit and implicit premises regarding the scope and potence of the elusive phenomenon at its core. The reading selection will approach the emergence of “culture” as an object of study from various directions: philosophy, aesthetics, sociology, anthropology, psychoanalysis, religion, and arts (possible authors include Darwin, Cassirer, Simmel, Weber, Durkheim, Freud, and Plessner). We will then turn to post-1945 readings (Adorno and Horkheimer, Blumenberg, Bachelard) and to more recent scholarship (for example Bal, Barad, Haraway and Descola), asking for the formative, and, at times, negative role of ‘Culture’ as an object of study and a figure of thought from the late 20th century to the present. In so doing, we seek to create an interdisciplinary space to think about the preconditions of “Culture(s)” and to reflect on possible ramifications for our own research projects and wider disciplinary expectations.