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Call for Papers: Conference on History of Melancholy

07. Apr. 2014

The research group “Gloom Goes Global” calls for papers for an international conference on the transcultural history of melancholy. The event will take place at the Karl Jaspers Center from October 2 to 4, 2014. Applications can be submitted until April 15.

The interdisciplinary conference with the title “Gloom Goes Global: Towards a Transcultural History of Melancholy since 1850” focuses on the study of melancholy as a historical-anthropological phenomenon and scientific medical concept from a transcultural perspective. It will discuss influential narratives and perceptions of gloom as articulated in various national and cultural contexts – in Europe, Russia and Asia – since the middle of the 19th century, and will examine their mutual penetration and transformation. The central question concerns the extent to which the paradigm shift from a perception of melancholy shaped by natural philosophy, literature and art to a psychopathological condition conceptualised using scientific terminology can be described as a global phenomenon.

The key concern of this conference is to discuss competing concepts of melancholy and their mutual penetration and transformation against the backdrop of cultural flows, in particular flows of knowledge and science between Europe, Russia and Asia. In concrete terms, this conference seeks books or texts and ideas (medical and scientific as well as philosophical or social) produced in one cultural context and transmitted or transferred to another, translated from one to the other language, or adapted, changed, transformed, etc. Further, the conference addresses the people and institutions as well as agents and brokers involved in or affected by these kinds of transcultural flows and cross-border activities.

The conference focuses also on global flows of cosmopolitan psychiatry and the circulation of concepts of mental illnesses such as melancholy or depression and the ontologies that they produced in different historical and cultural contexts.

Applicants should submit the title of their paper, an abstract of max. 300 words and a short CV to Frank Grüner or Maike Rotzoll by April 15, 2014. Successful applicants will be requested to submit a full paper (5,000 words max.) by September 10, 2014.

The conference is organised by MC 11.2 “Gloom Goes Global: Epistemologies and Ontologies of Melancholy between Europe and Asia” coordinators Dr. Frank Grüner and Dr. med. Maike Rotzoll.


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