10 May, 2016

Trace(s), Episteme in Motion

Jun 29 - Jul 01, 2016
4th Annual Conference of the Collaborative Research Centre 980 Episteme in Motion at the Freie Universität Berlin
The idea of the ʻtraceʼ evokes a whole range of associations. Not only in everyday language, but also in the humanities does it occur in a bewildering number of varieties. Different theorists and movements in criticism, from Benjamin to Derrida, have given the term their various specific meanings. Traces have meaning because they refer not merely to the inevitable relationality of presence and absence, but rather embody this relationality while simultaneously appearing to be inscribing it with a temporal structure. After all, the entity to which the trace owes its existence in the first place is always already gone. At the same time, traces always require interpretation. Given the possibility of multiple and perhaps contradictory readings, the relationship between the trace and its referent is never unequivocal. By default, the act of reading a trace leads to the generation of new knowledge, or to a transfer of knowledge automatically involving an element of change. Thus, the retrospective quality of the trace cannot simply be taken for granted: On the one hand, the trace points towards the past. Yet, on the other hand, it also provides a context that motivates future actions. Especially in cases where the trace seems to reveal its origin, it often evokes a desire to return to this place of departure. Yet what appears to be a return inevitably leads directly into the future. Moreover, by connecting temporality and materiality the trace highlights the surface it has been inscribed onto. No trace can exist without a medium – its specific manifestation is ultimately the result of a dialogue with the surface or the object onto which it is inscribed.
With its 2016 Annual Conference, the CRC 980 Episteme in Motion extends an invitation to shed new light on the question of how materiality and temporality relate to each other in the context of the trace. In doing so, our objective is not merely to reiterate the manifold cultural connotations of the trace as a metaphor – instead, we seek to investigate the reflexive potential of this trope, especially in regard to the dialectics of materiality and temporality, of physical presence and history.
The attendance of the conference is free. Please registrate at:
  • Kathleen Biddick, Temple University
  • Caroline Walker Bynum, Princeton University
  • Andrew James Johnston, Freie Universität Berlin
  • Ananya Jahanara Kabir, King’s College London
  • Ludger Lieb, Universität Heidelberg
  • Miltos Pechlivanos, Freie Universität Berlin
  • Claudia Reufer, Freie Universität Berlin
  • Nora Schmidt, Freie Universität Berlin
  • Wilhelm Schmidt-Biggemann, Freie Universität Berlin
  • Georges Tamer, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg
  • Gyburg Uhlmann, Freie Universität Berlin
  • Richard Utz, Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Friedrich Vollhardt, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
  • Edward Watts, University of California San Diego
Time & Location
Jun 29 - Jul 01, 2016
Harnack-Haus, Tagungsstätte der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft 
Ihnestr. 16-20, 14195 Berlin-Dahlem