Visual history has experienced a remarkable boom in the field of cultural and historical studies over the past few years. Even though the question of how visual productions and practices change is not limited to a given period, it often goes along with the thesis of a hegemony of vision in the modern age. But this emphasis on the “scopic regimes of modernity” (Martin Jay) obscures the fact that since the mid 19th century the very conditions and habits of hearing and listening have also been subject to fundamental change occasioned by modern phenomena such as urbanization, industrialization, mechanization, and the emergence of sound recording media. Accordingly, it appears appropriate for historians of modernity to deal not only with visual history but also with the cultural meaning of hearing and listening and the historical changes they have undergone. The 9. Blankensee Colloquium on “Hearing Modern History. Auditory cultures in the 19. and 20. Century” will do so by investigating sound in such diverse fields as urban history, the history of science, the history of objects, and the history of modern subjectivity.
In accord with the Berlin Senate, the Blankensee Colloquia are financed through ‘cooperative funds’. The program is sustained by the presidents and rectors of the Freie Universität Berlin (Free University Berlin), the Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften (Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities), the Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung (Social Science Research Center Berlin) and the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin (Institute for Advanced Study Berlin). It is from among the entries in an annual idea-contest on the topic “Cultural and Social Change” that these officials select the winning proposal for a colloquium on the humanities and social sciences that is composed of scholars from around the world. The objective of the Blankensee Colloquia is to promote younger scholars from the region of Berlin-Brandenburg by allowing them to present and develop an innovative research area within the framework of an international conference that they themselves have organized. And it is in this way that the scholarly reputation of the region of Berlin-Brandenburg can be bolstered, that innovative research approaches may be supported, and that institutional cooperation in the region is to be fostered.