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Mind the Gap! Concepts and Cultures of Distance in the Long 20th Century - 26 February 2020

Please note that this event has passed.

This research seminar will be led by Dr Marie Kolkenbrock and chaired by Professor Matthew Bell from the Department of German, King's College London. 

In her talk, Marie Kolkenbrock will give a ‘workshop report’ of her new research project Hedgehog Humanities: Concepts and Cultures of Distance in the Twentieth Century.  While the notion of ‘distance’ reflects some of the fears arising from modernity – particularly when understood as a failure of interpersonal intimacy – it nevertheless also informs several positive theoretical re-imaginations of the public sphere in the twentieth century. Schopenhauer’s ‘hedgehog dilemma’, a parable of freezing porcupines that struggled to keep warm without poking one another, provides a powerful image for the human need for distance even in the most intimate relationships. The concept of distance appears as a point of intersection between various modern knowledge systems of the Western world, and particularly in those disciplines concerned with the human experience: sociology, philosophical anthropology, psychology, and the arts. Through interdisciplinary readings of works from this wide range of knowledge systems in the twentieth century,  Kolkenbrock aims to explore the function of the conceptualisation and cultivation of distance for this era’s responses to the fundamental question of how to live together in private relationships, within societies, and across nation states.

Free and open to all to attend. No registration is required. 

At this event

Matthew Bell

Matthew Bell

Professor of German and Comparative Literature

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Event details

26 February 2020

Virginia Woolf Building, Strand Campus, London