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New book by Barbara Mittler and Thomas Maissen

Jul 11, 2018

Prof. Barbara Mittler, co-director at the Heidelberg Centre for Transcultural Studies, recently published "Why China did not have a Renaissance - and why that matters,"  a book co-authored with former Cluster director Prof. Thomas Maissen. The volume was published with De Gruyter and is part of the series "Critical Reading in Global Intellectual History."

By engaging with the case of the "Renaissance," the book "Why China did not have a Renaissance - and why that matters" presents a dialogue between Profs. Barbara Mittler and Thomas Maissen. The authors explains: "Inter- and transdisciplinary dialogue has been at the heart of our endeavours at the Cluster Asia and Europe in a Global Context and the Heidelberg Center for Transcultural Studies (HCTS). This book stems from conversations that sparked some of the ideas later to be researched at the HCTS: the question of whether and how periodisation systems could and should be translated across space and time."

With their focus on periodisation as a historical phenomenon and references to concepts of historical progress and decline, the authors discuss whether periodisation schemes invariably reveal specific social and cultural predispositions. "In this transcultural, interdisciplinary and antagonistic dialogue, we offer multiple perspectives on how to think Renaissance in a global context: just restricted to the European or even only the Italian case or transferable to other civilisations, in accordance with the practices of historical agents who used the term," the authors state. 

"In utilising the dialogic mode ourselves, we are also testing it as an alternative in and for the writing of global histories." While disagreeing on several fundamental issues, the authors recognize the interdisciplinary and interregional dialogue as a useful format for answering some of the more far-reaching questions.

The volume was published with De Gruyter in June 2018. The series "Critical Readings in Global Intellectual History" is co-edited by Prof. Susan Richter, Dr. Milinda Banerjee, and Dr. Sebastian Meurer, associate members of the Cluster, alongside Prof. LI Xuetao from the CDWF (Chinesisch-Deutsches Wissenschaftsforum, the Chinese-German Scientific Forum). The series introduces Global Intellectual History from the sixteenth to the twentieth centuries and provides a forum for new methodological approaches and unconventional formats. Every volume engages in a critical reading of the state of research and explicitly reflects on its methodological toolkit.

Barbara Mittler is a co-director at the Cluster "Asia and Europe" and the Heidelberg Centre for Transcultural Studies (HCTS), and a professor in Chinese Studies at Heidelberg University. She is also Deputy Director of the CATS, the Centre for Asian and Transcultural Studies Heidelberg. Her research focuses on Chinese cultural history.

Thomas Maissen is the director of the Deutsches Historisches Institut Paris. He is a former co-director of the Cluster "Asia and Europe" and worked as a professor of Modern History in Heidelberg. His research focus lies on the early modern History in Europe.


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