Third European Congress on World and Global History: Panel "Popularization of Knowledge. Crossed Perspectives"

Third European Congress on World and Global History: Panel "Popularization of Knowledge. Crossed Perspectives"

Geneviève Warland (Université Saint-Louis, Brussels), Hubert Roland (Université Catholique de Louvain)
United Kingdom
From - Until
11.04.2011 - 14.04.2011
Warland, Geneviève

The question of the popularization of knowledge goes beyond the field of school and academic matters. It occurs through many other modes and places. It is constitutive of culture conceived as a public space, be national or transnational. It supports the diffusion of world understanding, contributing to the building of individual and collective identities and of a shared reference world.

Popularization of knowledge has been an essential aspect of societies’ democratization in Europe and in other parts of the world since the end of the nineteenth century. Important tools were, in this respect, newspapers, encyclopaedia and book series, museums, libraries and popular universities. It helped to educate people in a wide political sense: the progressive wings of the principal parties (liberal, conservative or socialist) were particularly concerned with that matter. What has become of this purpose in our beginning 21st century offering so many new possibilities of (self-) learning?

The panel seeks to explore this theme through case studies in three fields: history (including art history), literature and philosophy. The focus can be oriented towards books, films, media, exhibitions and (preferably non school or academic) institutions. Our purpose is also to highlight the social (and political) implications of changing cultural forms: book, film and web. The question of mediators and other “translators” between national or regional cultures is also worth being analyzed.

A particular attention will be paid to the processes and actors by which popularization occurs. We want to combine a semiotic and discursive approach with a socio-historical one. We encourage methodological and conceptual self-reflection in dealing with the case studies.

As far as the general topic of the conference refers to comparisons and connections, the study of particular topics will have to be comparatively framed on a geographical and/or chronological basis. It means, the proposals will operate with comparisons and connections between at least two countries and/or will be inscribed in a time comparison (the turn of the 20th vs. the turn of the 21st century).

What we intend is an interdisciplinary reflection on ways to make people culturally active, to mobilize knowledge at a grander scale at particular times. Here we suggest a few examples of the many possible case studies: extension universitaire and Volkshochschule: the question of popular education; (re-)reading and interpreting Nietzsche for non-philosophers; writing history of Europe in Belgium, France and Germany; the impact of universal exhibitions in the media; self-help publications and popularization of scholarly knowledge, etc.

Case studies derive from your special research field and your eagerness to disclose a new (comparative) perspective and/or a new field. Conferences languages for the panel as well as for the whole conference are English, French and German.

Please send title and abstract of your proposed paper (100-300 words in one of the three languages) to Geneviève Warland ( and Hubert Roland ( by July 31, 2010. Further information on context, time and space is given in the general call for papers from ENIUGH (


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Geneviève Warland

Hubert Roland

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