“… that is the Question” – Towards a History of the Question as an Epistemic Genre in the Early Modern Age

The question is certainly one of the oldest and most common techniques in the history of knowledge. The conference seeks to contribute to a history of the question as an epistemic genre in the early modern age. Questions to be discussed include: What was the epistemic status attributed to the questions and the answers elicited in different institutional and medial contexts? How were questions raised and distributed, who asked them and who was supposed to answer them? What was the status of answers given across various genres and media? What was the relationship between oral and written forms of debate, especially those which emerged with the periodical media of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries? Finally, how does the question relate to the emerging forms of critique from the seventeenth century onward?


Wednesday, 3 April

Anita Traninger, Martin Urmann (Freie Universität Berlin, CRC 980 “Episteme in Motion”)
Welcome and Introduction

Eva Cancik-Kirschbaum (Freie Universität Berlin, CRC 980 “Episteme in Motion”)
The Question: The Emergence of an Epistemic Practice in Ancient Mesopotamia

17:00–17:15 Coffee break

Irene van Renswoude (University of Amsterdam)
Yes and No, What was the Question? Pedagogy, Dialectic and Disputation before the Rise of the Universities (800–1200)

Rudolf Schüßler (Universität Bayreuth)
Questions of Morality in the Early Modern Period

Thursday, 4 April

Arjan van Dixhoorn (University College Roosevelt, Middelburg)
To the Question”: Intellectual Exercises in Early Modern Flemish-Dutch Rhetorician Culture

Déborah Blocker (University of California, Berkeley)
“Questionare, Velare e Burlare”Uses (and Misuses) of the Quaestio Among the Alterati of Florence (1569–1630)

12:00–12:15 Coffee break

Kathryn Murphy (University of Oxford)
Questions and the Emergence of the English Essay

13:15–14:45 Lunch Break

Dmitri Levitin (University of Oxford/University of Utrecht)
Disputations, Questions, and Free Speech in the Confessional University: A Remarkable New Discovery

Flynn Allott (University of Oxford)
On Questionnaires as Textual Ghosts and Social Forms: The Case of Seventeenth-Century Antiquarian “Quare Sheets”

16:45–17:00 Coffee Break

Anita Traninger (Freie Universität Berlin, CRC 980 “Episteme in Motion”)
Astonishing Answers: Paradox and the Affective Corollaries of Questioning the Status Quo

Gianna Pomata (Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore)
TheoremataProblemataParadoxa”How to Frame Open Questions in Early Modern Epistemic Cultures

Friday, 5 April

Nicolas Schapira (Université Paris Nanterre)
The Question as a Political Tool in Absolutist France

Jan Lazardzig (Freie Universität Berlin)
Lost and Found. The Labyrinth as Epistemic Trope in the Seventeenth Century (Andreae, Comenius, Bacon)

11:00–11:15 Coffee break

Martin Urmann (Freie Universität Berlin, CRC 980 “Episteme in Motion”)
The Question at Stake. The Content of the Form in the Prize Contests of the French Academies

12:15–13:15 Lunch Break

Gideon Stiening (Universität Münster)
“What Can I Know? What Should I Do? What Can I Hope For?” Kant’s Questions

Daniel Stader (Freie Universität Berlin)
What is Enlightenment? On the Greatest Prize Question Never Posed

Concluding Remarks

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"...that is the Question" conference poster