Interdisziplinäres Zentrum für die Erforschung der Europäischen Aufklärung

Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg Siegel

Interdisciplinary Centre for European Enlightenment Studies

The IZEA was founded in 1990 as a central scientific institution of the Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg. As a research institution for the history of culture and ideas, it explores the foundation of modern Western societies through the study of ideas and cultural patterns developed in the 18th century.

18th century studies

The research program includes research and publishing projects dedicated to a wide variety of themes, such as the history of universities, societies and communication; anthropology, aesthetics, culture and knowledge transfer, scholarly culture and literary forms of representation in the 18th century; the development of cultural patterns; the Enlightenment in global networks; and the Garden Kingdom of Dessau-Wörlitz.

Connected with the region's research institutions

The IZEA is located in the Red School, built in 1896, which was formerly the Higher School for Girls of the Francke Foundations. The IZEA houses a public library containing primary sources and research literature related to the Enlightenment in regional and European contexts. The Alexander von Humboldt Chair of Modern Written Culture and European Knowledge Transfer and the Immanuel-Kant-Forum also have their offices in the building.

Enlightenment studies in international networks

Thanks to its outstanding library, its publishing projects, its geographic proximity to important historic sites related to the Enlightenment (including extensive archives, libraries and art collections), and its partnerships with major cultural and scientific institutions,  the IZEA is now one of the most important international research institutes dedicated to the study of the Enlightenment, and is an essential meeting point for scientists from around the world.

Library Collections

The special library of the ULB at the Interdisciplinary Centre for European Enlightenment Studies was opened in 1998. It was established in connection with the foundation of the international research centre for the European Enlightenment through the Martin-Luther University. The Red School, the former High School for Girls (built between 1894 and 1896), which was rebuilt after the German reunification with significant funds from the Volkswagen Foundation, is home to both the research centre and the library.
The library, which is located in the former auditorium of the school, contains primary and secondary material on the European Enlightenment in open access, among which around 18000 volumes of primary source materials from the holdings of the MLU. In all, the library has at the moment an inventory of around 43000 volumes, among which are edited primary sources, bibliographies, handbooks, and research literature on the European Enlightenment.

The shelving of the sources is based on the historical subject and shelf catalogue of the director of the Halle Library, Otto Hartwig, which was implemented in the library of the University of Halle in 1880. This cataloguing system was taken up by other libraries and received an award at the Chicago World Exhibition in 1893.

Original prints from the time of the Enlightenment are arranged according to the Hartwig scientific classification system: European Sciences, Scholarship, Philosophy, Belles Lettres (Europäische Wissenschaft, Gelehrsamkeit, Philosophie, Belletristik). The history of knowledge and scholarship is a particular focus of the library, as it also houses the writings of the professors who were active at the university between 1690 and 1806.

All the holdings of the special library are catalogued in the OPAC of the ULB and in the common library network (GVB). 

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