21 Mar 2007 All day CRASSH



Re-enactment History and Affective Knowing


21 March 2007
Venue: CRASSH, 17 Mill Lane, Cambridge

Organisers: Dr Peter de Bolla (Faculty of English)
Prof. Simon Schaffer (Department of History and Philosophy of Science)

The last decade has witnessed the growth of a new kind of academic historical inquiry, re-enactment history. This inquiry has something in common with older traditions of historical empathy, approaches familiar from debates about history teaching in schools and about the appropriate ways of dealing with and exploiting national heritage. But in these newer approaches historians do not only seek imaginatively to enter the minds of historical agents but rather to act out the past so as to know it better. This enterprise raises fascinating questions about affect or emotion, currently topics of great interest in related fields in intellectual history, philosophy, aesthetics, cognitive science and the human sciences: it has even been suggested that a new branch of knowledge may be appearing, called by some the affective sciences.

This conference will contribute to this growing field by discussing the conceptual structure of the historical modes of understanding based in affective experience. Speakers will discuss the kinds of knowledge involved in re-enactment history and explore the relations between memory and re-enactment. They will ask how a simulation can produce new knowledge and how notions of lived experience and authenticity work their effects here. Key areas where re-enactment history have been put to work, such as histories of experimental and field sciences, within museums, and in the media, will be addressed by participants.

A group of internationally distinguished historians and literary scholars has been invited to present papers, each of around twenty minutes. There will be ample time for discussion and debate.







Tel: +44 1223 766886
Email enquiries@crassh.cam.ac.uk