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International Conference on Melancholy

02. Okt. 2014

The international conference "Gloom Goes Global: Towards a Transcultural History of Melancholy since 1850" took place from October 2 to 4 at the Karl Jaspers Centre. It was organised by the research group "Melancholy" coordinated by Dr. Frank Grüner and Dr. Maike Rotzoll. The scholars discussed concepts of melancholy and their mutual penetration and transformation against the backdrop of cultural flows.

The interdisciplinary conference focused on the study of melancholy as a historical-anthropological phenomenon and scientific medical concept from a transcultural perspective. It discussed 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 examines their mutual penetration and transformation. The conference also studied 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.

The programme was thematically arranged and divided into five sections. Section I dealt with „Political and Social Dimensions of Melancholy and Depression“. Section II featured “Cross-Cultural Approaches to Melancholy and Depression”. The subject of Section III was „Conceptualising Emotions and Mental Illness“. Section IV discussed “Scientific Knowledge Production, Public Discourses on Melancholy and Depression, and the Self”. Section V studied “Melancholy in Literature and the Arts beyond National and Disciplinary Boundaries”. In the end of the conference, the participants took part in a guided tour through the exhibition “Militarism, World War and Arts in Psychiatry” in the Prinzhorn Collection at the Heidelberg University Hospital. 

The conference "Gloom Goes Global: Towards a Transcultural History of Melancholy since 1850" was organised by the interdisciplinary research group MC 11.2 “Melancholy” coordinated by Dr. Frank Grüner and Dr. Maike Rotzoll.

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  • Participants in front of the KJC

  • Opening of the conference

  • Some of the participants

  • Pencil drawing from an exercise book by Johann Faulhaber, ca. 1908 ©Sammlung Prinzhorn Heidelberg, Inv.Nr. 1511