11 Oct 2022

Georg Simmerl receives the ZfL’s Carlo Barck Prize

The 2022 Carlo Barck Prize is awarded to Georg Simmerl. In his dissertation “Die Gründerkrise. Kritik und Regierungskunst des Liberalismus in den Anfängen des deutschen Nationalstaats 1873–1879” [The Founders’ Crisis. Criticism and the Art of Governance of Liberalism during the Beginnings of the German National State 1837–1879], the cultural scholar impressively undertakes a new historiography of the Founders’ Crisis beyond the narrative of a “antiliberal turn” that it heralded.

By drawing on Foucault’s studies on the liberal crises of governance and Koselleck’s Kritik und Krise, Simmerl brings together a comprehensive chronicle of the events surrounding the Founders’ Crisis with an examination of the “crisis poetics” that emerged during the second half of the 19th century. He convincingly demonstrates the ways in which liberalism presents itself as a profound biopolitical system of thought through public economic controversies. Finally, Simmerl draws connections from strategies of crisis governance around 1873 which consist of the persecution of Socialists, interventionist pragmatism, and (often anti-Slavic) antisemitism, to the German present, shedding light on the long and problematic history of German liberalism.

Awarded by the ZfL for the first time in 2017, the Carlo Barck Prize honors dissertations in the field of literary and cultural studies that pose innovative questions and display original conception. The prize is usually awarded every two years. The prize money of 10,000 euros is allocated as a six-month scholarship for a fellowship at the ZfL.

Karlheinz “Carlo” Barck (1934–2012) was a scholar of Romance literatures who had a profound impact on the ZfL’s research program. Best known for his research on the history of aesthetics and imagination since the 18th century, he was the driving force in the development and publication of the Ästhetische Grundbegriffe, a historical dictionary of basic aesthetic concepts.