Nov. 8: Anne-Sophie Reichert presents “Leben im Versuch”

Wednesday, November 8, 4:30-6:00pm, in Rosenwald 329

The Medicine and Its Objects Workshop welcomes:

Anne-Sophie Reichert (Anthropology)

Leben im Versuch: Experimental Culture in Hellerau, Germany (1910-1914) 

This paper traces the formative period of Germany’s first garden city Hellerau, located in the vicinity of Dresden to house the famous Deutsche Werkstätten Hellerau. It focuses on Hellerau’s peculiar experimental culture, examining the exploratory and innovative spirit that pervades the overall life and work ethos, architecture and pedagogy of the village. I begin by outlining the historical context of the project Hellerau. In the archives, Hellerau was repeatedly described as an experiment or a laboratory. I consequently address how this scientific language, one largely employed by scientists and doctors in the metropolis at the time, traveled to a furniture factory in the Saxonian countryside. Following, I offer a reading of Hellerau’s laboratory life that takes the arts and sciences into view from an integrated perspective. I argue that if we look at Hellerau from a standpoint that does not stop at the objects and practices conventionally analyzed and hence established by various and possibly antagonistic disciplinary standards, we can ascertain that what it meant to conduct an experiment was not solely defined within the confines of the scientific laboratory. On the contrary, in Hellerau experiments were carried out across the arts and sciences, in the private and in the public, in the factory and on stage. Therefore, the repertoire of experimental language and practice did not belong exclusively to the natural sciences but crossfertilized and developed between artistic, scientific and socio-political realms to the end of advancing modern social life. In this sense, Hellerau’s experiments embody a central aspect of the experience of modernity at the turn of the 20th century: that of life as always unfinished and perpetually evolving, as open-ended and instable, forever.

Please join us for a lively discussion and refreshments always unfinished!

To receive the paper, or if you have any questions or require assistance to attend, email the workshop coordinator: Kieran Kelley (kierankelley@uchicago.edu)

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