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Early Modern Period Conference

Sep 16, 2015

The 11th conference of the working group on the early modern period in the Association of German Historians was held from September 17-19, 2015, at Heidelberg University. The event with the title "Rethinking Early Modern Europe in a Global Perspective" was organized by the Chair for the Early Modern Period of the Department of History and supported by the Cluster "Asia and Europe".

For more than two decades this biennial conference has provided a central forum for German and increasingly also for international scholars working on the early modern period. It aims to focus ongoing discussions on central themes that have figured prominently within historical research.

This year’s theme “Rethinking Early Modern Europe in a Global Perspective” was set to inquire, whether the intense research on global history during recent years necessitates an overall adjustment of our idea of Europe from the 16th to the 18th century. Europe has consistently been both a subject to and a concept of negotiation processes. However, certain readings predominate in historiography. On the one hand, historical research still often conceptualizes Europe from national perspectives, while on the other hand Europe is regarded as a space of enlightened, but also contested debate and culture, which has brought forth the achievements of a certain modernity. The conference aimed to present a wide view over current fields of research and question existing narratives, but also asks for a possible synthesis.

The programme offered a wide range of panels on topics such as material culture, times of crises, or knowledge production within the framework of Europe in the Early Modern Period. One highlight was an academic soiree on the second evening. Under the title "Chronologics. Why China did not have a “Renaissance” and why that matters", historian Prof. Dr. Thomas Maissen (Paris) and sinologist Prof. Dr. Barbara Mittler (Heidelberg) engaged in an interdisciplinary dialogue. Prof. Maissen is a former director and Prof. Mittler is the acting director of the Cluster "Asia and Europe in a Global Context". Prof. Dr. Henry Keazor from the Institute of Art History in Heidelberg was invited as discussant.

The 11th conference of the working group on the early modern period in the Association of German Historians (Verband der Historiker und Historikerinnen Deutschlands) was hosted by Heidelberg University and organized by the Chair for the Early Modern Period of the Department of History with support of the Cluster of Excellence “Asia and Europe in a Global Context”.

Head organiser PD Dr. Susan Richter is the acting chair for the early modern period at the department of history and deputy speaker of research area A “Governance and Administration” at the Cluster. The conference was coordinated by Dr. des Sebastian Meurer, who also coordinates research area A at the Cluster "Asia and Europe".

Visit the conference website for more information


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  • Dialogue between Barbara Mittler and Thomas Maissen

  • Organiser team with Susan Richter and Sebastian Meurer (left)

  • Discussion during lunch break

  • Key Visual (detail from Jean-Baptiste Oudry, Allegory of Europe (1722). Sarah Campbell Blaffer Foundation, Houston)