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.

5. Academic Culture and the Politics of Knowledge

The projects in the research field “Academic Culture and the Politics of Knoweldge” investigate the institutional conditions and practices of the production of knowledge. What factors organise the field of the production of ideas? What patterns of behaviour govern the politics of knowledge, and how are ideas and texts shaped by the practices, techniques and communication systems governing the development, processing, and distribution of knowledge? The individual projects take up these questions by looking at the political governance and self-image of the University of Halle during its early Enlightenment phase, by studying the varied practices of excerpting and their effects and evolutions from the early modern period up to the present day, as well as by investigating the mechanisms of dissemination of literature and knowledge in the eighteenth century and after. These projects are all connected by the overarching question of the role that the Enlightenment movement played as a political and scientific practice in the context of the transition of the republic of letters from traditional to modern.


Halle as Innovative University? Novelty and Innovation as Historical and as Historiographical Categories

Daniel Fulda, Andreas Pečar u.a.

The University of Halle is given a special place in the history of universities: Especially during its foundation phase around and after 1700, it is described as the place of origin of novelty.

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Excerpting, Citing, Plagiarizing. Written Culture, Academic Practices and Authorship (16th–21st century)

Elisabeth Décultot, Christian Kuhlmann, Helmut Zedelmaier

This project investigates transformations in reading and writing with regard to the practices of excerpting, citing and plagiarizing from the early modern period up to the present day, across all of Europe. The C18th deserves particular attention here as a transitionary period and link between the humanistic tradition and the present day.

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Book History, History of Printing and Circulation of Knowledge in the Enlightenment

Thomas Bremer

The research project mainly intends to examine the specific mechanisms of the distribution of literature and knowledge in the 18th century and is connected to the currently highly active discussion about the materiality of literature and knowledge.

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The Brandenburg-Prussian University Policy in the Early Phase of the University of Halle (1688–1740)

Andreas Pečar, Marianne Taatz-Jacobi

The basic question of the research project is: what "university policy" has the Prussian government pursued in the newly founded University of Halle in the first fifty years of its existence?

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