Simon Dubnow Institute
for Jewish History and Culture at Leipzig University

Winter Semester 2018

General Problems in Jewish and General History in the Modern Era


Lecturers: Dr. Nicolas Berg/Dr. Elisabeth Gallas

Research Colloquium

Time: Thursday, 17:15–18:45 (every other week)

Start: 18 October 2018

Venue: Leibniz Institute for Jewish History and Culture – Simon Dubnow, Goldschmidtstr. 28, Leipzig 


Linguistic Criticism as Historical Reflection in the Early Twentieth Century


This colloquium approaches linguistic criticism in a fundamental manner: In the early twentieth century, it formed a downright epistemic-sociological discipline at the intersection of political diagnoses of the times and general philosophical essay writing. As such, it had little to do with linguistic criticism in the narrower sense; rather, the focus was the production of a skeptical conception of history through recourse to language. This colloquium focuses on whether this constitutes an independent sub-genre of philosophy of history that manifested itself in linguistic thought. It moreover relates to the fact that the classical canon of modern linguistic criticism includes a notable amount of Jewish intellectuals, such as Moritz Lazarus, Hermann Steinthal, Fritz Mauthner, Gustav Landauer, Karl Kraus, Alfred Kerr, Walter Benjamin, and Victor Klemperer.


The presentations explore the extent to which linguistic reflections were pertinent for Jewish scholars and intellectuals in the early twentieth century to capture in words the dangerous side of modernity and thereby simultaneously to investigate questions of belonging and self-understanding. This colloquium allows for reflection both on the individual arguments of early linguistic criticism in particular as well as generally on the retrospectively impressive faith in the ability to reform a precarious political present through thinking about the dangers of false language.






18 October 2018

Carolin Kosuch (Göttingen)

Mauthner liest Mendelssohn: Zur Genese der modernen Sprachkritik


22 November 2018

Galili Shahar (Tel Aviv)

Franz Kafka: Jargon and the Critique of Language


13 December 2018

Arno Dusini (Wien)

Karl Kraus und die Sprache


10 January 2019

Gerald Hartung (Wuppertal)

Simmel und die Sprachkritik um 1900


31 January 2019

Heidrun Kämper (Mannheim)

Die Sprache lügt nicht – Victor Klemperer


14 February 2019

Sylvia Asmus (Frankfurt am Main)

Sprache und Sprachverlust im Exil