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Emulation, Fame, and Knowledge Transfer: Prize Contests in the European Republic of Letters (1670–1800)

Jul 13, 2022 - Jul 15, 2022

International conference organised by the project “Erotema. The Question as an Epistemic Genre” in cooperation with Avi Lifschitz (University of Oxford)

Prize competitions constituted a shared practice across countries and institutions, playing a central role in the 18th-century public sphere, but they have received little scholarly attention so far. The conference examines these contests through new analytical and theoretical lenses, with an emphasis on comparative and transnational perspectives. Speakers analyse the long-term history of the genre and its rhetorical background while engaging with individual competitions especially from peripheries of the Republic of Letters and beyond Europe. The conference thus contributes to an entangled history of this particular medium of the early modern Republic of Letters.


Wednesday, 13 July

Avi Lifschitz (University of Oxford), Martin Urmann (Freie Universität Berlin, SFB 980)
Welcome and Introduction

Martin Urmann (CRC 980 Episteme in Motion)
Panegyric, confirmation of the canon and knowledge production: prize contests as a hybrid medium of public debate

Coffee break

Arjan van Dixhoorn (University College Roosevelt, Middelburg)
Dutch prize contests as a measure of long-term cultural change in Europe

Maria Florutau (University of Oxford)
The role of the jury in shaping the prize essay genre in the Netherlands in the second half of the eighteenth century

Conference Dinner

Thursday, 14 July

Martin Gierl (Georg-August-Universität Göttingen)
Prize – Questions – Know-How: Scholarship Meets Wissenschaft and Administration Meets Career

Rita Krueger (Temple University, Philadelphia)
Constructing useful knowledge: essay contests in Habsburg Bohemia and Moravia

Lunch Break

Nicola Miller (University College London)
Competing to define the future: prize contests in independence-era Spanish America

Béla Kapossy (EPFL, Lausanne)
‘‘The spirit of legislation”: the Bernese prize essay competition of 1764

Coffee Break

Juliane Engelhardt (University of Copenhagen)
The distribution of prizes in essay contests in the Danish Composite Monarchy (1770–1814)

Kelsey Rubin-Detlev (University of Southern California, Los Angeles)
Popularisation and prestige in the staging of prize contests at the St Petersburg Imperial Academy of Sciences, 1777–1802

Conference Dinner

Friday, 15 July

Maria Susana Seguin (Université Paul-Valéry, Montpellier/ENS Lyon)
Prizes and awards at the Royal Academy of Sciences in Paris, 1700–1750

Iwan Michelangelo D’Aprile (Universität Potsdam)
The transformation of academic prize contests in the aftermath of the French Revolution

Lunch Break

Final discussion

Time & Location

Jul 13, 2022 - Jul 15, 2022

Freie Universität Berlin
SFB 980 Episteme in Bewegung
Schwendenerstraße 8
14195 Berlin

Further Information

Convenors: Avi Lifschitz (University of Oxford) and Martin Urmann (Freie Universität Berlin)

Please register with emilia.sophie.moreno@hotmail.com