15 May 2018 - 16 May 2018 All day The Old Parlour Room, Sidney Sussex College


Papers will be pre-circulated and some will be given in German. For those interested in attending and receiving the papers in advance, please contact Andrew McKenzie-McHarg at am2213@cam.ac.uk



Andrew McKenzie-McHarg (University of Cambridge)

Michael Multhammer (Universität Siegen)



'Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth'. Thus the view of Oscar Wilde. But it could equally be argued that, when people wear a mask and are therefore disburdened of accountability, they are at liberty to not tell the truth. In online forums we currently experience how such ambivalences re-emerge and prompt efforts to update and re-negotiate codes of interaction for new media environments. But the core issues are often old ones. The fact that these issues have already been debated and litigated, even if against a backdrop of different priorities and in a distinct historical context, becomes evident when we turn our attention to the German-speaking lands as they somewhat haphazardly crossed the threshold into modern times.

This two-day workshop aims to promote an ongoing discussion that re-evaluates anonymity in general and its specific place in German literary culture and German society. The era extending from the 18th to the 19th century is crucial because, as a very general statement, in this period a new regime of intellectual property eventually succeeded where the dictates of early modern authorities had failed, namely: in transforming anonymity from being the norm to being the exception.

The workshop will provide a forum for multiple voices from the disciplines and sub-disciplines of history and literary studies. Anonymity is a theme in which historians of the book, literary historians and legal historians all have vested interests. Yet the aim is to also extend current lines of inquiry by considering anonymity in its non-textual forms (masked balls, travelling incognito, unknown superiors in the secret societies, etc.) and, even more intriguingly, by asking how the textual and non-textual interrelate.




Supported by CRASSH's 'Conspiracy and Democracy' Project and the DAAD-University of Cambridge Research Hub for German Studies with funds from the German Federal Foreign Office (FFO).


Day 1 - Tuesday 15 May 2018
9.30 - 9.45

Greeting and Introduction: Andrew McKenzie-McHarg und Michael Multhammer

9.45 - 10.30

Richard Oosterhoff (Cambridge)

'Mechanical Objectivity and Anonymity in the Work of Maria Sibylla Merian'

10.30 - 11.00

Coffee break

11.00 - 12.30

Sarah-Katharina Andres-Acevedo (München)

'Johann Joachim Kaendler (1706-1775): Ein anonymer Künstler des 18. Jahrhunderts?'


Michael Multhammer (Siegen)

'”Wer ist kein Autor?” Anonymität und Authentizität in der Volkslieddichtung um 1800'

12.30 - 14.00


14.00 - 15.30

Niels Penke (Siegen)

'Bedrohungsszenarien und routinierte Praktiken: Anonymität in der Romanfabrik' 


Andrew McKenzie-McHarg (Cambridge)

'Anonymity and Ideology: When Defenders of Church and State Opt for Anonymity'

15.30 - 16.00

Coffee break

16.00 - 16.45

Alfred Moore (Cambridge)

'Anonymity, Pseudonymity, Deliberation. Why Not Everything Should Be Connected '

Day 2 - Wednesday 16 May 2018
9.00 - 10.30

Peter Erikson (Colorado)

'Material Testimony: The Practice of Confession in Frederike Helene Unger's anonymously published Bekenntnisse einer Giftmischerin (1803)'


Ruth Jackson (Cambridge)

'Politics, Religion, and Friedrich Schleiermacher's Anonymous Preacher'

10.30 - 11.00

Coffee break

11.00 - 11.45

Paul Kerry (Oxford)

'George Bancroft’s Anonymity at the University Göttingen and his Goethe Reception'

11.45 - 12.15

Concluding remarks

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Tel: +44 1223 766886
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