On the occasion of the publication of his book Gebeugter Geist. Rassismus und Erkenntnis in der modernen europäischen Philologie (Göttingen 2016: Wallstein), Markus Messling will offer some general considerations on the role that philology played for the reflection on humanity in european modernity. Whereas today we tend to think of philology as a critical technique that finds itself rather at the margins of anthropological reflections, it used to be a leading science in the modern anthropological debates throughout the 19th century as it delivered key concepts to the understanding of human cognition before biological brain research. Markus Messling will focus on three central aspects: on the problem of the Spirit (Geist/Esprit/mind), on the problem of inflection and its poetological subversions in universalistic critiques of European rationality, and on the end of a genealogical conception of political and cultural representation under republican order and its link to debates about materialism and idealism. The second part of the seminar will be dedicated to manuscripts of the young Jean-François Champollion, the world famous decipherer of the Egyptian hieroglyphs, who tried to bring together, in the philological ‘laboratory’ of his student years in Paris (1807/1809), concepts of cultural genealogy with those of cultural translation in order to understand the place of Egyptian culture in universal history.
Inflected Spirit: Philology and Universalism
Markus Messling (Centre Marc Bloch, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin); Chair: Islam Dayeh (Freie Universität Berlin)
Freie Universität Berlin, Holzlaube, Room 2.2051, Fabeckstr. 23-25, 14195 Berlin
Markus Messling is Vice Director of Centre Marc Bloch (Humboldt-University Berlin). He holds a Dr phil in Romance Philology from Freie Universität Berlin (2007), and a habilitation in Comparative Literature from Potsdam University (2015). From 2009 to 2014 he was directing an Emmy Noether Excellence Grant on »Philology and Racism in the 19th Century« funded by the German Research Foundation. He has held visiting professorships and fellowships at the School of Advanced Study-University of London, the University of Cambridge, EHESS Paris and at Kobe University in Japan.