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Wonder and Imagination in Medieval and Early Modern Literature, Philosophy, and Art: Transcultural Perspectives

Oct 21, 2021 - Oct 22, 2021
Die „Merwunder“ (monstris marinis)

Die „Merwunder“ (monstris marinis)
Image Credit: Konrad von Megenberg: Das Buch der Natur, UB Heidelberg, Cod. Pal. germ. 300, f. 169v (um 1442–1448, Hagenau, Werkstatt Diebold Lauber)

Interdisciplinary Workshop with Michelle Karnes (University of Notre Dame)

Organized by the Research Project B02 “The Marvellous as a Configuration of Knowledge in Medieval Literature” (headed by Jutta Eming)

According to premodern theories of sensation and cognition, imaginatio (or: phantasia) serves as an interface between the interior and the exterior: by converting sensory stimuli to internal images and recombining them, the imagination creates pictorial configurations that deviate from the exterior world. Since the imagination is also regarded as the locus of divine or demonic interference, it may also affect the material world. Imagination, thus, engenders wonder(s).

The relationship between wonder and theories of the imagination, as expressed in philosophy and, more implicitly, in literature, is at the center of Michelle Karnes’ research. This joint workshop aims to instigate an interdisciplinary discourse on the subject and to open transcultural perspectives by linking it to the Research Center’s objectives and the participating projects’ areas of expertise. It will focus on interactions between premodern theories of the imagination and literary and visual representations, such as narrations of dreams and visions, perceptions of otherworldly places, or depictions of artistic or magical practices and their effects. What are the similarities and differences that we observe between various historical and cultural situations and their artistic productions? How can these be related to each other? What prioritizations, limitations, and concessions does comparison between these works reveal?


Day 1, Thursday, 21 October 2021
Hosts: Jutta Eming, Antonia Murath, Carolin Pape, Falk Quenstedt

2:00 pm     Reception and Introduction
2:15 Matthias Grandl:
Dreaming with Cicero. On the precariousness of oneiric knowledge
3:00 Break (15 mins)
3:15 Jan-Peer Hartmann:
Marvels of the Past in The Ruin
4:00 Break (15 mins)
4:15 Michael Rothmann:
Telling the truth between nature and God's will: Gervase of Tilbury’s definition of mirabilia
5:00 Break (15 mins)
5:15 Jutta Eming / Antonia Murath / Carolin Pape:
Unruly Imagination in Konrad of Würzburg‘s Partonopier und Meliur
6:00 End Day 1
6:30 Joint Dinner at Alter Krug

Day 2, Friday, 22 October 2021

Host: CJ Jones

10:00 am   Michelle Karnes:
Marvels as Objects of Knowledge (Jour fixe, CRC 980)
12:00 Lunch break
1:00 pm Beatrice Gründler:
A King‘s Quest for a Book of Marvelous Knowledge: Anūshirwān and Kalīla wa-Dimna
1:45 Break (15 mins)
2:00 Ruben Schenzle:
Riding with the jinn: Pre-Islamic poetry and its Islamic transformations
2:45 Break (15 mins)
3:00 Falk Quenstedt:
Flights of Imagination in the 1587 Historia von D. Johann Fausten
3:45 Round-Up
4:15 End of the workshop

Further Information

In order to register and to obtain the reader, please contact: falk.quenstedt@fu-berlin.de