Bard News & Events

Press Release


Emily Darrow

ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.-"Contested Legacies," a conference at Bard College, will assemble an international, interdisciplinary, and intergenerational group of 40 scholars from Tuesday, August 13, to Thursday, August 15. The three-day conference will take place in the context of the Bard Music Festival's exploration of "Gustav Mahler and His World"-another contested legacy. This is a sequel to "No Happy End," an earlier workshop that defined the terms of the common project. Free and open to the public, all the panels will take place in the multipurpose room of the Bertelsmann Campus Center, beginning at 8:30 a.m.

"Contested Legacies" will reflect on the work of thinkers and artists forced to flee Hitler's Germany and on their legacy of 50 years of scholarship. The title refers to the claims and counterclaims of the emigrants about the intellectual legacies they brought with them into exile. Additionally, "Contested Legacies" is about the debates generated by the émigrés' rich and diverse achievements, continuously contested within the émigré cohort itself, and then among succeeding generations of their followers and detractors.

Conference organizer David Kettler, Scholar in Residence at Bard, says that "the link between the Bard Music Festival theme of Mahler and our conference is that the emigrant generation was critical in fostering Mahler's reception in the United States." The panel on Wednesday morning, "Artistic Modernism: Adorno on Gustav Mahler," will explore this theme. Also, the first panel on Tuesday, "The Political in an Antipolitical Age," will explore the work of Hannah Arendt and Heinz Bluecher, both of whom found a home at Bard College following their emigration from Europe.

"It is a novel experiment to invite the interested general public to an academic conference," said Kettler. "The study of this extraordinary exile group is only the beginning. There have been many other emigrations of exiled scholars and artists, coming from a variety of cultures, and questions about their legacies must also be explored." A 64-page booklet about the conference topics will be available without charge to all visitors to the conference (this can also be obtained by writing the organizers).

Financial support for the conference has been received from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the Max Kade Foundation, the Lucius N. Littauer Foundation, and the Open Society Institute. For further information about the conference, call David Kettler at 845-758-7294, e-mail, or visit the website at

Conference Schedule

All events will be held in the Multipurpose Room of the Bertelsmann Campus Center.

Tuesday, August 13

Panel 1 at 8:30 a.m., "The Political in an Anti-Political Age" with Wolfgang Heuer, Berlin, "Hannah Arendt and Her Socrates: Heinrich Bluecher"; Joanna Scott, Eastern Michigan University, "Arendt and America"; Roy Tsao, Georgetown University, "Arendt after Marx: Labor and Modern Society in The Human Condition"; Peter Baehr, Lingnan University, Hong Kong, "'Totalitarianism' as Contestation: Hannah Arendt and the Sociologists"

Panel 2 at 10:40 a.m., "Humanistic Scholarship and Philosophical Education (Humanistische Bildung)" with Ernst Osterkamp, Humboldt University, Berlin, "The Legacy of the George Circle"; Gerhard Lauer, University of Munich, Munich, "Erich Kahler"; Reinhard Mehring, Berlin, "The Philosophical Reception of Thomas Mann in Exile"; Jonathan Bordo, Trent University, "Walter Benjamin's Critical Topography"

Panel 3 at 1:40 p.m., "Psychoanalysis and Social Theory" with Neil McLaughlin, McMaster University, "Collaborative Circles and their Discontents: Fromm, Marcuse, and Critical Theory in America"; Lawrence J. Friedman, University of Indiana, "Erik Erikson"; Paul Roazen, York University, "Enemies and Allies"; Eli Zaretsky, New School for Social Research, "The Freudians"

Panel 4 at 3:40 p.m., "Sociology as a Science of Reality (Wirklichkeitswissenschaft)" with Peter Breiner, SUNY Albany, "Translating Max Weber: Exile Attempts to Forge a New Political Science"; Rheinhard Blomert, Berlin, "Veiled Legacy: Norbert Elias and Max Weber"; John Gunnell, SUNY Albany, "Leo Strauss Reads Max Weber"; Lawrence Scaff, Wayne State University, "Max Weber and the Social Sciences in America"

Wednesday, August 14

Panel 1 at 8:30 a.m., "Artistic Modernism: Adorno on Gustav Mahler" with Lydia Goehr, Columbia University; Michael P. Steinberg, Cornell University; Daniel Herwitz, Durban University, "Symphonic Physiognomy"; Richard Leppert, University of Minnesota, "Nature, Kitsch, and Exile: Mahler and Adorno on History"

Panel 2 at 10:40 a.m., "Jewishness" with Mihaly Vajda, Debrecen, "Reflections on Emigration"; Suzanne Vromen, Bard College, "Arendt and Jewish Identity"; Judith Gerson, Rutgers University, "Religious and Secular Meanings of Jewish Identity among German Jewish Immigrants"; Jack Jacobs, John Jay College, CUNY, "Anti-Semitism, the Image of the Jew, and the Institute of Social Research"

Panel 3 at 1:40 p.m., "Stories and Histories (Geschichten und Geschichte)" with James Schmidt, Boston University, "When Arnold met Irving: A Tale from Hollywood"; Catherine Epstein, Amherst College, "Red Rancor: The Eisler Siblings in America"; Edoardo Tortarolo, University of the Piedmont, Italy, "Émigré historians and the question of truth"; Mario Kessler, University of Potsdam, Germany, "Return to East Germany: Refugee Historians in the Early DDR"

Panel 4 at 3:40 p.m., "Vocation (Beruf)" with Matthias Stoffregen, Johann-Wolfgang-Goethe-University, Frankfurt, Germany, "Exiles as Political Advisors"; David Kettler, Bard College, "The Contested Legacy of Hugo Sinzheimer: Three Lawyers in Exile"; Thomas Wheatland, Boston College, "Lazarsfeld, the Horkheimer Circle, and Columbia University"

Thursday, August 15

Panel 1 at 8:30 a.m., "Art and Art History" with Margaret Olin, Art Institute of Chicago, "The Artistic Topography of Exile"; Berndt Nikolai, University of Trier, "The Bauhaus in Exile"; Anna Wessely, Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, "The Two Emigrations of Laszlo Moholy-Nagy"; Janet Wolff, Columbia University, "Entartete Kunst in Britain: Refugees, Internees, and Visual Culture"

Panel 2 at 10:40 a.m., "Culture Wars," with Alfons Soellner, Chemnitz, "Adorno in the Bundesrepublik: Back to High Culture"; Nina Raoux, Sciences-Po, Paris, "War of Succession? Walter Benjamin, Strategist in the Literary Exiled Battlefield"; Irving Wohlfarth, University of Rheims, "Strategies of Exile: Benjamin's Secret Germany"; Laurent Jeanpierre, École des hautes études en sciences sociales, Paris, "Broken Mimesis: Comparing Adorno, Horkheimer, and the Surrealists in Exile"

Panel 3 at 1:40 p.m., "Happy End?" with Gregory Moynahan, Bard College, "Tactics of Exile: Ernst Cassirer and Erwin Panofsky in Old Worlds and New"; John McCormick, Yale University, "Dialectics of Enlightenment"; Kay Schiller, University of Durham, "Ernst Cassirer, Paul Oskar Kristeller, and the 'Humanistic Turn' in American Emigration"; Jerry Zaslove, Simon Fraser University, "Siegfried Kracauer: Prophet and Chronicler of Exile or, 'When you want to travel far your baggage had better be light'"

Panel 4 at 3:40 p.m., "New Contests" with Christian Fleck, University of Graz, "The Needy and the Dignified: Contemporary, Sociological, and Voguish Evaluations of Refugee Scholars"; Peter Ludes, International University Bremen, "Existential Truths for Multiple Globalizations"; Commentators: Alfons Soellner, David Kettler, Peter Baehr

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This event was last updated on 08-06-2002