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Carola Groppe on West German Universities in the Sixties

Venue: Pigott Hall, Room 252

Host: Department of German Studies

Speaker: Carola Groppe, Gerda Henkel Visiting Professor at Stanford University and Professor of Educational Science, especially History of Education, at the Helmut Schmidt University in Hamburg, Germany

Description: The lecture will investigate the traditional Humboldt idea of the German research university in the Sixties. Essential part of this idea has always been the specific German concept of Bildung of the students as the result of being part of an intellectual place where research and teaching are strongly connected. Especially the humanities emphasized their contributions to this university ideal. For different reasons, it began to change in the Sixties. The lecture focuses on this change process and its structural and political reasons and investigates the consequences for the humanities, particularly their partial change into social sciences. The analysis of several exemplary academic and political debates on the humanities and the sciences in the 1960s will then especially ask for the role of technology and science in this transformation process. One important thesis is that the transformation of the humanities was the result of fighting of three different academic generations within the intellectual field for power and control of interpretation. The eldest generation was born before World War I, the second was born in the 1920s and early 1930s, and the third was born in the late 1930s and 1940s. The lecture will examine their typical socialization experience in the academic field and will ask for its impact on the debates of the Sixties. It will be emphasized that it was not only the third generation, the so called generation of the 1968 student movement, that deeply changed the humanities and the concept of Bildung at West German Universities.