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.

Enlightenment and Religions

Project manager: Prof. Dr. Daniel Cyranka

Duration of project: ongoing

The research theme “Enlightenment and Religions” will address topics which play a fundamental role in the department for religious studies and intercultural theology. 

Description of Project

In exploring the theological and philosophical controversies of the 1770s, this project centers on the notions of apokatastasis and metempsychosis, as invoked by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (1729-1781), which can be traced back to Origenian debates. The controversies concerning reason and revelation, history and religion, as well as the anthropology of humankind played a crucial role in the formulation of the enlightened concepts of human autonomy and free will, which became highly influential in articulating a modern understanding of humanity. With Lessing as its point of departure, the project focuses on these debates in the second half of 18th century.


Aus: La vie de Mahomet, M. Prideaux, 1699.
Illustration aus der deutschen Ausgabe "Description de l'Univers" von Alain Manesson Mallet, 1719.
George Sale: Der Koran..... Lemgo 1746
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