Symposium
24 Jun 2021 – 25 Jun 2021

“In Defense of Democracy.” Hermann Broch’s American Experience and the Relevance of His Political Thinking Today

Venue: ZfL, Schützenstr. 18, 10117 Berlin, Aufgang B, 3. Etage
Organized by Paul Michael Lützeler (St. Louis), Daniel Weidner (ZfL/HU Berlin)

Symposium, funded by the Volkswagen Foundation, Hannover, organized by the Leibniz Center for Literary and Cultural Research Berlin (ZfL) in collaboration with the Internationaler Arbeitskreis Hermann Broch

Hermann Broch experienced a general political and social crisis in Europe in the interwar period and especially after the National Socialists seized power in Germany: the self-destruction of democracy, the manipulation of the masses by means of a clever propaganda, the blatant disregard of Citizen and Human Rights, the incarceration and internment of dissenters, the enslavement and in the end annihilation of certain groups like the Jews. After his emigration to the United States in 1938, Broch reacted with a series of political initiatives and the great project of a “Theory of Mass Delusion,” which not only sought to explain the success of the ‘totalitarian’ regimes, but also worked on a conception of democracy that, according to Broch, would only be able to stand up to those regimes if it was newly and differently conceptualized. Broch’s ideas are radical: His political theory is comprehensive and deals with economic as well as cultural and even anthropological aspects. At the same time it does not take liberal democracy as such for granted. The American experience of a democratic tradition becomes a learning process for Broch, which at times leads to far reaching considerations, as on the politics of Human rights, but which also reveals the difficulties of political practice under the conditions of exile. Today, in the face of rampant populism and the crisis of representative democracy, Broch’s ideas are relevant again. The conference discusses them in a broader historical context and explores conceptual and political perspectives of Broch’s American experience.

Program

Thursday, 24 Jun 2021

09.00–09.30

  • Eva Geulen (ZfL), Daniel Weidner (Halle), Paul Michael Lützeler (St. Louis): Opening and Introduction

09.30–11.30


  • Paul Michael Lützeler (Washingtion University / IFK Wien/Linz): Brochs Überlegungen im US-Exil zur “Re-Education” in Deutschland
  • Doreen Wohlleben (Universität Marburg): Erziehung zur Demokratie: Brochs Ideen zu einer Internationalen Universität

11.30–12.00 Coffee break

12.00–13.00

  • Barbara Picht (ZfL): Wissensnetzwerke des Exils. Brochs Korrespondenzen und Zeitschriftenkontakte


13.00–14.30 Lunch break

14.30–16.30

  • Patrick Eiden-Offe (ZfL): Essayismus und Politik. Brochs politische Aufsätze im Kontext der frühen Nachkriegszeit
  • Kirk Wetters (Yale University, New Haven): Hermann Broch and Post-Weberian Theory

16.30–17.00 Coffee break

17.00–19.00

  • Martin Klebes (University of Oregon, Eugene): Law and Consciousness. Broch on Democratic Propaganda

  • Monika Ritzer (Universität Leipzig): Von Shitstorms und medialer Politik: Die verdrängte Aktualität der Massenpsychologie (Broch, Canetti)

19.00 Dinner

 

Friday, 25 Jun 2021

9.00–11.00

  • Daniel Weidner (Universität Halle): “Irdisch absolut”: Brochs Kritik der Politischen Theologie
  • Doerte Bischoff (Universität Hamburg): Die Gemeinschaft der Staatsbürger. Demokratische Modelle in Brochs Exilromanen

11.00–11.30 Coffee break

11.30–12.30

  • Agnieszka Hudzik (Freie Universität Berlin): “Der Tod des Vergil” im komparatistischen Kontext

12.30–14.00 Lunch break

14.00–16.00

  • Sebastian Kirsch (ZfL): Stimmen und Nebelmenschen: Zum chorischen Status der “Schuldlosen”
  • Ioana Vultur (Paris): Literarische Anspielungen in Brochs “Massenwahntheorie”

16.00–16.30
 Coffee break

16.30–18.30

  • Sebastian Wogenstein (University of Connecticut): Broch and “The City of Man” Project of 1939/1940
  • Eva Geulen (ZfL/HU Berlin): Rom rühmen. Broch und Arendt


19.00 Dinner