Forms, Style, and Manners

Democracy as a way of life

In cooperation with
Canada Research Chair in German and European Studies
Centre canadien d‘études allemandes et européennes Université de Montréal

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We are all democrats now. Yet concerns over the future viability of democracy pervade scholarly and public controversies. Today, the social sciences dominate the domain of democratic theory. In contrast, the humanities have contributed little to our understanding of democracy’s fragile and contingent nature in the past and in the present. Against this background, the workshop aims to strengthen the role of the humanities in scholarly exchanges over the meaning, the fragility and the contingency of democracy as a way of life.

The focus is not on the content of content, i.e. democratic ideas in democratic polities, but on the content of form. The workshop therefore invites conversations about the democratic content of aesthetic forms, styles, and manners. It aims to revise Walter Benjamin’s argument that an aestheticization of politics gives rise to fascism as well as to rethink our understanding of aesthetics and the political generally. The workshop focuses on the question if there are forms of political aesthetics, as opposed to aestheticized politics, that are democratic rather than authoritarian.