Seite drucken. Seite weiterempfehlen.

Lecture Series: Katastrophenbilder - Imaging Disaster

SUMMER TERM 2012, Monday 6 pm to 8 pm

organised by Prof. Monica Juneja (Heidelberg) and Prof. Gerrit Jasper Schenk (Darmstadt)

The violence unleashed by natural disasters exposes human beings to the most elemental of borderline situations. Human will and capacities, poised on the precarious frontier between nature and culture – a frontier defined differently by each epoch and culture – are forced to undergo an ordeal of life and death. Disaster – viewed as a condition of emergency – becomes the site of survival or failure not only of individuals but of entire communities. The series of lectures planned jointly by the Universities of Heidelberg (Cluster of Excellence Asia and Europe) and Darmstadt will investigate specific culturally formed patterns of action and collective ways of coping brought forth by catastrophic events. This makes all disasters, even those which unfold in the heart of “nature”, profoundly socio-cultural happenings. For survivors the experience of disaster can become a search for meaning: in what terms is the encounter with elemental violence perceived, interpreted, described and interiorized? In order to express that which defies description, cultures take recourse to visual media: verbal images, myths, signs, symbols and films. Representations of calamities domesticate and contain them as icon. Various dimensions of the event -  signs of imminent danger, the shock of disaster, destruction and ruin, escape and rescue, overcoming danger, victory over the elements, help for the victims – have generated a repertoire of motifs with a view to portray disaster through a wide range of media, across time and history.

The analysis of the ways disasters are imagined and visualized is the theme of this series of lectures, in two senses. First, it will address methodological questions pertaining to a transcultural vocabulary and iconography of disasters and second, it intends to systematically analyze the event of disaster and its medial representation as a complex and composite socio-cultural process.

The lecture series has been planned as a cooperative enterprise with the University of Darmstadt. Lectures will be held alternately in Heidelberg and Darmstadt. The series has been designed as a preparatory exercise for an exhibition on imaging disasters planned for 2014 at the Reiss-Engelhorn Museum in Mannheim.  


Darmstadt: Technische Universität, Robert Piloty-Gebäude, Hochschulstraße 10, Raum S2-02 C 205

Heidelberg: Karl Jaspers Center, Voßstrasse 2, Gebäude 4400 , Raum 212



16.04.2012- DARMSTADT 

Gerrit Jasper Schenk (Darmstadt), Historische Katastrophen – Wahrnehmung, Deutung, Darstellung read more

23.04.2012 - HEIDELBERG

Martin Gieselmann (Heidelberg), Masters of Disasters? On leadership and (natural) catastrophe in contemporary Chinese cinema read more

30.04.2012 - HEIDELBERG

Diamantis Panagiotopoulos (Heidelberg), Taming the Catastrophe. Cultural Strategies against Natural Disasters in Minoan Crete 

07.05.2012- DARMSTADT

Kristina Buhrman (University of Southern California), Stars and Phase: Astrological predictions and interpretations in pre-modern Japan 

14.05.2012 - DARMSTADT

Valerie Hammerbacher (Stuttgart) Der Aufruhr der Elemente - der Vulkanausbruch: Eine Motivstudie zur englischen Naturästhetik des 18. Jahrhunderts read more

21.05.2012 - DARMSTADT

Corinna Lüthje (Hamburg) - Zwischen Helmut Schmidt und Klimawandel: Meidatisierte Erinnerung an die Sturmflut 1962 in Hamburg. read more

04.06.2012 - HEIDELBERG

Andrea Janku (London), The Outsider's Gaze: Reading Chinese Images of Disasters (working title) 

11.06.2012 - DARMSTADT

Leo Andergassen (Brixen) Die fünfzehn Zeichen vor dem Weltende - Chiffren der Endzeit im Mittelalter und der frühen Neuzeit (working title) 

18.06.2012 - DARMSTADT

Christian Rohr (Bern), Überlegungen zu einer Ikonographie und Ikonologie der Naturkatastrophenfotographie bis 1920 read more

25.06.2012 - DARMSTADT

Jennifer Spinks (Melbourne), Prodigious Histories: images of disasters in early modern wonderbooks read more

02.07.2012- HEIDELBERG

Gregory Smits (Pennsylvania), Laughing at Disaster: Humor in Japanese Popular Media from the Ansei Edo Earthquake read more

09.07.2012- DARMSTADT

Haruko Wakabayashi (Princeton University) Interpreting Disasters in Medieval Japan:  The Great Kyoto Earthquake of 1185   read more