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Announcements


November

Conference | "Heroism and the Heroic in American History"

Annual conference of historians of the German Association for American Studies

February 9–11, 2018
Akademie für Politische Bildung, Tutzing

Conference organizers:
Dr. Michael Mayer (Akademie für Politische Bildung, Tutzing)
Michael Butter (University of Tübingen)
Simon Wendt (Goethe University of Frankfurt)

This conference aims to critically reconsider the history of heroism in the United States from the American Revolution to the present, taking seriously the constructed nature of heroism and the myriad functions its serves in U.S. society. Heroes do not simply exist; they are created through practices of representation, and especially narration. Without a story, there is no hero. Nevertheless, the effects of heroism are real and palpable. As a social and cultural construct, it serves important functions in human societies. Heroes and heroines embody the norms, values, and beliefs of social groups. They also serve as role models whose behaviour people seek to emulate. As symbols of dominant norms and identities, they become sources of authority and are frequently used to legitimize social, cultural, and racial hierarchies. Heroism thus tends to be a stabilizing force in society, but it is constantly debated, reevaluated, and revised. Consequently, it is also historically contingent.

While historians have devoted thousands of pages to heroism, only few studies do justice to the topic’s complexities. Too often, scholars still imply that heroism is “real”, ignoring the fact that heroes are the product of intricate heroization processes that elevate real or imagined people to heroic status through reoccurring iterations about what is believed to be heroic at a certain point in time. Since this communication process is primarily a media discourse, studying heroism requires a thorough analysis of heroic narratives and representations of heroism in various forms of media. However, historians also need to take into account the multitude of actors that are involved in this process, as well as their motivations to construct some people as heroic while ignoring others.

This conference will shed new light on the various ways in which heroism has been constructed, while also probing its social, cultural, and political functions in U.S. history. Speakers will critically examine the existing scholarship on American heroism, before presenting case studies that might offer new trajectories for future research. In their papers, they will answer questions as to how, in which contexts, and for which groups processes of heroization legitimized or delegitimized social, cultural, and political norms and values; how they created, affirmed, or challenged social hierarchies and collective identities; and how they differed from or were similar to other forms of perceived extraordinariness.

Conference | "Heroism and the Heroic in American History"

October

New Release | Felix Heinzer, Jörn Leonhard & Ralf von den Hoff: "Sakralität und Heldentum"

The fourth volume in the SFB 948 series "Helden – Heroisierung – Heroismen" (Ergon-Verlag, Würzburg) has been released: "Sakralität und Heldentum", edited by Felix Heinzer, Jörn Leonhard and Ralf von den Hoff .

Further information on the SFB Publications page and the publishing house's website.


 

New Release | Felix Heinzer, Jörn Leonhard & Ralf von den Hoff: "Sakralität und Heldentum"

August

New E-Journal Issue | "HeldInnen und Katastrophen – Heroes and Catastrophes"

HeldInnen und Katastrophen – Heroes and Catastrophes, Issue 5.1 (2017) of the SFB 948 e-journal helden. heroes. héros., has been published.

New E-Journal Issue | "HeldInnen und Katastrophen – Heroes and Catastrophes"

July

Conference | "Heroism as a Global Phenomenon in Popular Culture"

Organized by Michael Butter (Tübingen), Nicole Falkenhayner, Wolfgang Hochbruck, Barbara Korte (Freiburg) and Simon Wendt (Frankfurt)

In an age of globalization and transnationalism, heroes transcend their cultural spheres of origin and are re-rooted, adapted and translated in new local contexts across the world. We understand heroes and heroines as a phenomenon of exceptionality that has a positive significance in relation to the values, ideals and norms of the communities in which these figures are admired, followed, functionalized but also debated. In this process of “glocalization”, popular culture, with its world-wide markets and media, is a driving force. Media as diverse as films, comics, graphic novels, computer games, or internet blogs construct and disseminate narratives about heroes and heroisms across the globe and are consumed in the Global North as well as the Global South. At the same time, there are centers of dissemination – including Hollywood, Bollywood, or Hong Kong – that continue to dominate processes of production and dissemination of hero narratives.

This multidisciplinary conference aims to highlight the complex and interrelated processes of creation, marketing, consumption and impact of globalized hero narratives, as well as the numerous cultural flows of exchange that have made them possible since the end of World War II. We are interested in contributions (case studies) which conceive of heroism as a transcultural and transnational phenomenon that may originate in one particular nation but ultimately transcends borders. Questions to be discussed include how the meanings of heroic figures and narratives are changed in cultural translation, or what specific processes are active in the world-wide exchange of figures and concepts of the heroic. Case studies will focus on situations in Europe, North America, Africa and Asia.

For more information, see here.

Conference | "Heroism as a Global Phenomenon in Popular Culture"

June

Conference | PONTES IX "Classical Heroism in the Modern Age: Ideas, Practices, Media" (Sept. 21–23, 2017)


University of Freiburg, September 21–23, 2017

Classical antiquity is the fountainhead of much of our Western ideas of heroism. Starting from the religious Greek hero cult, elements of the heroic manifested themselves in myth, literature, war politics, and a number of other domains. The influence of these ideas on later concepts of heroism is evident until the end of the early modern period. However, with the rise of industrialized societies since the 19th century, the reception of ancient heroism became more obscure, and postmodernist currents have called the very idea of heroism into question.

This PONTES conference, hosted jointly by the University of Freiburg's Department of Greek and Latin Studies and the Collaborative Research Center 948 "Heroes – Heroizations – Heroisms", aims to shed light on the enduring relevance and significance of the reception of ancient heroes in the modern day.

Find the conference programme and more information here.

Conference | PONTES IX "Classical Heroism in the Modern Age: Ideas, Practices, Media" (Sept. 21–23, 2017)

December

World in Progress: A History of Heroes


What do we actually mean when we label someone a hero? And where does our concept of the heroic come from? To what extent is it shaped by the community and culture to which we belong? Deutsche Welle tasked Kate Laycock with the heroic quest of seeking out answers to these questions. Bravely, she stepped into the arena…

Dr. Nicole Falkenhayner, head of Project D15, explains the significance of the heroic in our society in this interview with Deutsche Welle. The interview is in English and can be found on the Deutsche Welle website or downloaded as an mp3 file.

World in Progress: A History of Heroes

November

New Release | Barbara Korte & Stefanie Lethbridge: "Heroes and Heroism in British Fiction Since 1800"


This book is about the manifestations and explorations of the heroic in narrative literature since around 1800. It traces the most important stages of this representation but also includes strands that have been marginalized or silenced in a dominant masculine and higher-class framework. The studies include explorations of female versions of the heroic, and they consider working-class and ethnic perspectives. The chapters in this volume each focus on a prominent conjuncture of texts, histories and approaches to the heroic. Taken together, they present an overview of the ‘literary heroic’ in fiction since the late eighteenth century.

New Release | Barbara Korte & Stefanie Lethbridge: "Heroes and Heroism in British Fiction Since 1800"

September

"The Roots of Heroism": An Interview with Prof. Dr. Ralf von den Hoff and Dr. Martin Kovacs

"The Roots of Heroism": An Interview with Prof. Dr. Ralf von den Hoff and Dr. Martin Kovacs

Alexander at the Battle of Issus (333 BC) [Credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Issus_-_Alexander.jpg]

A young, clean-shaven face and a cowlick growing upwards like on a lion’s mane: these two characteristics are typical of portraits of Alexander the Great. The lack of beard emphasizes Alexander’s youthful strength and the successes that he achieved while he was young. His wavy, center-parted hair, whorling above the forehead and falling around his face in the anastolé style, reflects portrayals of the gods. “Alexander the Great marked a change in the way that rulers were stylized”, says Freiburg archaeologist Dr. Martin Kovacs. “The manner in which Alexander presented himself and in which he was portrayed changed the style for his successors. They often adopted characteristics such as beardlessness in their own portraits.”

Freiburg researchers at the Collaborative Research Center 948 “Heroes – Heroizations – Heroisms” are looking into heroic figures across history, visual studies, literature and the social sciences from Ancient Greece to today. “We have determined that heroes are much more than just role models who have accomplished something extraordinary”, explained the classical archaeologist Prof. Dr. Ralf von den Hoff, speaker of the SFB. “Heroes are polarizing figures and also embody the negative sides of conflicts.” In the second funding period, which began in July 2016, the researchers have turned their attention to the 20th and 21st centuries as well as transcultural connections.

The interview in its entirety can be viewed on the following page.

Video "Die Wurzeln des Heldentums" - Prof. von den Hoff und Dr. Kovacs im Interview

"The Roots of Heroism": An Interview with Prof. Dr. Ralf von den Hoff and Dr. Martin Kovacs

August

New Release | Achim Aurnhammer & Ulrich Bröckling: "Von Weihegefäß zur Drohne"


The fourth volume in the SFB 948 series "Helden – Heroisierung – Heroismen" (Ergon-Verlag, Würzburg) has been released: "Vom Weihegefäß zur Drohne: Kulturen des Heroischen und ihre Objekte", edited by Achim Aurnhammer and Ulrich Bröckling.

Further information can be found on the SFB Publications page and the publishing house's website.

 

New Release | Achim Aurnhammer & Ulrich Bröckling: "Von Weihegefäß zur Drohne"

November

New Release | Ralf von den Hoff, et al.: "Imitatio heroica: Heldenangleichung im Bildnis"


The first volume in the SFB 948 series "Helden – Heroisierung – Heroismen" (Ergon-Verlag, Würzburg) has been released: "Imitatio heroica: Heldenangleichung im Bildnis", edited by Ralf von den Hoff, Felix Heinzer, Hans W. Hubert and Anna Schreurs-Morét.

More information

New Release | Ralf von den Hoff, et al.: "Imitatio heroica: Heldenangleichung im Bildnis"