13 November 2012
Venue: Skeel Lecture Theatre, People's Palace, Mile End Campus
In terms of cultural geography, towns like Bath or Marienbad would seem much less important than, say, London or Berlin. A careful look at the multi-facetted history of these places, however, reveals that they are in fact symptomatic and indicative of all the major transformative processes that constitute the history of European society. Presenting these places as situated “within a web of interconnected medical, philosophical, aesthetic, social and religious discourses” (Anderson / Tabb) and drawing on Foucault’s notion of ‘heterotopia’, the lecture will show their paradoxical centrality with regard to intellectual, social and cultural history - and the history of medicine -, touching on processes such as secularization, shifting class structures, the emergence of the welfare state, the development of tourism etc.
Astrid Köhler, Dr Phil (Berlin), Reader in German, joined Queen Mary in September 1995. Her research interests are divided between three broad fields: contemporary German literature; late 18th & early 19th Century Cultural History, especially in Germany; and Anglo-German Cultural Relations. Publications include Salonkultur im klassischen Weimar. Geselligkeit als Lebensform und literarisches Konzept (Forms of Sociability in Classical Weimar, 1996); Brückenschläge. DDR-Autoren vor und nach der
Wiedervereinigung (GDR Authors before and after German Re-Unification, 2007); and a biography of the Berlin author Klaus Schlesinger (2011).
She is currently working on a project on the comparative history of European spa towns.
A Reception will follow the lecture