The Weimar Moment: Liberalism, Political Theology and Law

Draft Conference Program

Program last updated: 11/12/08

Please Note: The papers linked to this program are conference drafts
not intended for citation or circulation.

Link to List of Selected Abstracts

Friday, October 24    

Location: Pyle Center Room 325/326
Panel Sessions are open to all registered guests.
8:30        Coffee and Registration
8:50        Welcome Remarks:

Leonard V. Kaplan (Mortimer Jackson Professor of Law and Director, Project for Law and the Humanities, University of Wisconsin Law School; Law Fellow in Humanities, Institute for Research in the Humanities)
Rudy J. Koshar (George L. Mosse WARF Professor of History and Religious Studies and Director, Religious Studies Program, University of Wisconsin)

9:00-10:30 Panel 1: Frankfurt School

The Frankfurt School – Adorno, Horkheimer, Marcuse, Neumann, Kirchheimer and others – represented some of the most significant cultural and legal thought emerging from Weimar Germany, with significant impact on the U.S. academy and broader culture. Frankfurt School thinkers combined the thought of Marx, Weber, and Freud toward creating a possible politics to deal with the Weimar liberal state and after its collapse thought to bolster future liberal settlements.

Chair: Marc Silberman (Professor of German, University of Wisconsin) 

Panel:
Udi E. Greenberg (Doctoral Candidate in History, Hebrew University of Jerusalem) 
"The Cold War as Constitutional Crisis: The Theological Politics of Carl J. Friedrich"
Jeffrey Herf (Professor of History, University of Maryland)
 “Displacement, Abstraction and Historical Specificity:
Comments on the Frankfurt School’s Critical Theory

Michael Jennings
(Professor of German and Department Chair, Princeton University)
Critique of Violence: Benjamin's Politics, ca. 1922"

Commentator: Leonard V. Kaplan (Mortimer Jackson Professor of Law and Director, Project for Law and the Humanities, University of Wisconsin Law School; Law Fellow, Institute for Research in the Humanities)

10:30-10:45    Break

10:45-12:15 Panel 2:  Political Legal Polarities 

Carl Schmitt and Hans Kelsen represent the polarity of political and legal thinking in Weimar liberalism. Kelsen’s positivism made him irrelevant to defending the liberal state; Schmitt’s decisionism helped legitimate Hitler’s rise to power. In each case, their respective thought lives on where Schmitt’s thought has created a cottage industry and Kelsen’s positivism remains relevant.

Chair: Claudia Card (Emma Goldman Professor of Philosophy, Affiliate Professor in Jewish Studies, LGBT Studies, Women’s Studies and Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin)

Panel:    
Ellen Kennedy (Professor of Political Science, University of Pennsylvania)
The Economic Sources of Dictatorship in Weimar Germany
John P. McCormick (Professor of Political Science, University of Chicago, and Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University)
“Authority Beyond the Bounds of Mere Reason in the Schmitt-Strauss Exchange”
David Novak (J. Richard and Dorothy Shiff Chair of Jewish Studies, Professor of the Study of Religion and Professor of Philosophy, University of Toronto)
  "Leo Strauss’ Critique of Hans Kelson"

Commentator: Heinz Klug (Evjue-Bascom Professor in Law, H. I. Romnes Faculty Fellow, and Director, Global Legal Studies Center, University of Wisconsin Law School)

12:15-1:30    Lunch Break (Lunch is provided for panel participants in the Pyle Center Main Dining Room )

1:30-3:00 Panel 3: Jewish-Christian Dialogue

The term "Weimar Moment" captures the dramatic cultural and institutional changes that took place in Germany between 1918 and 1933. "Weimar" symbolizes the hopes and the longing for a new area of democracy, tolerance and understanding, which was brutally brought to an end by the Nazi regime. It also stands for a new mapping of religious pluralism in Germany, however fragile this pluralism was. Thus, the period between 1918-1933 is a decisive moment in the history of Jewish-Christian relations in Germany. We see during this period in Germany for the first time a dialogue between Jews and Christians worthy of the name, although this dialogue was still formed by traditional doctrine, images, and prejudice. The panel seeks to explore this Jewish-Christian dialogue during the Weimar Republic from a Jewish, Protestant, and Catholic perspective.

Chair: Susan Stanford Friedman (Virginia Woolf Professor of English and Women’s Studies, Sally Mead Hands Bascom Professor of English, and Director of the Institute for Research in the Humanities, University of Wisconsin) 

Panel:
Gregory Kaplan (Anna Smith Fine Assistant Professor of Jewish Studies, Rice University)
 “Politics, Theology, Race, and Religion: The Dialogue of Franz Rosenzweig and Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy, 1916-1924"
Ulrich Rosenhagen (Assistant Director, Lubar Institute for the Study of the Abrahamic Religions, and Lecturer, Religious Studies)
“‘Together a Step Towards the Messianic Goal’ - Jewish-Protestant Encounter in the Weimar Republic”     
Kevin P. Spicer, C.S.C. (Associate Professor of History, Stonehill College and Visiting Professor, University of Notre Dame, 2007-09)
“Who is Neighbor? Catholics and Jews in the Weimar Republic”

Commentator: Klaus L. Berghahn (Weinstein-Bascom Professor of German and Jewish Studies, University of Wisconsin)

3:00-3:15    Break

3:15-5:00    Panel 4: Barth and Dialectical Theology

Karl Barth is arguably the most important theologian of the twentieth century. He emerged on the scene in the political-theological ferment of the early Weimar Republic with his Epistle to the Romans, becoming a public intellectual and later an anti-Nazi resister before his deportation to his native Switzerland. At the heart of Weimar's contentious cultural scene, Barth's enormous influence and output has still not been fully explored in scholarship. We propose to study Barth in particular for the political and legal implications of his critique of liberal theology.

Chair: Charles L. Cohen (Professor of History and Religious Studies; Director, Lubar Institute for the Study of the Abrahamic Religions, University of Wisconsin)

Panel:
Alf Christophersen (Temporary Full Professor of Systematic Theology and Ethics, University of Munich)
Karl Barth, or: The Self-constructed Churchly Isolation
Gary Dorrien (Reinhold Niebuhr Professor of Social Ethics, Union Theological Seminary, and Professor of Religion, Columbia University)
“Crisis Dialectics: The Barthian Revolt as Theology and Politics”
Rudy J. Koshar (George L. Mosse WARF Professor of History and Religious Studies, and Director, Religious Studies Program, University of Wisconsin)
"Demythologizing the Secular: Karl Barth and the Politics of the Weimar Republic"
Carl Rasmussen (Partner, Boardman, Suhr, Curry & Field LLP and Lecturer, University of Wisconsin Law School) 
“Barth among Anselm and Augustine:  Karl Barth’s Fides Quaerens Intellectum (1931) as a Prelude to the Barmen Declaration”

Commentator: Christophe Chalamet (Assistant Professor, Fordham University)

5:00-5:15 Summation:  Rudy J. Koshar
        (George L. Mosse WARF Professor of History and Religious Studies,
         and Director, Religious Studies Program, University of Wisconsin)          

5:15   Public Sessions are adjourned.

Reception and Dinner (by invitation)
Pyle Center AT&T Lounge (Room 106)
5:15-7:00  Reception and Dinner for panelists and invited guests.

Public Lecture sponsored by the UW Center for the Humanities

Pyle Center Lee Lounge (Room 109)

7:30 Introductions:
Rudy Koshar (George L. Mosse WARF Professor of History and Religious Studies, and Director, Religious Studies Program, University of Wisconsin)
Sara Guyer
(Interim Director, Center for the Humanities)

Plenary Address: "Adorno and the Future of Immortality"
Hent de Vries (Russ Family Professor in the Humanities, the Johns Hopkins University)

Saturday, October 25

Location:  The Pyle Center (Room 325/326) 
Panel Sessions are open to all registered guests.
8:30        Coffee and Conversation

9:00-10:30 Panel 5: Political Theology

Behind the anti-democratic ideas that challenged the Weimar Republic from its beginnings lurks the ideological alliance of conservatives of different fields and backgrounds. While the contribution of conservative legal scholars to the failure of the Weimar Republic is well known in America, only little is known about the degree to which conservative theologians delivered ammunition for its demise. Yet a closer look unravels a firm connection between religious and political conservatism. Indeed, Carl Schmitt's Political Theology of 1922 resonated strongly with Catholic and Protestant conservatives during this period. The panel seeks to explore this firm connection between religious and political conservatism, placing these theological debates in the broader religious context of the 1920s.

Chair: Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen (Merle Curti Assistant Professor of History, University of Wisconsin)

Panel:
Dana Hollander
(Canada Research Chair in Modern Jewish Thought, Department of Religious Studies, McMaster University)
“Can There Be a Jewish Theopolitical?  The View From Hermann Cohen”
Michael Hollerich (Professor of Theology, University of St. Thomas)
Species of Catholic Illiberalism:  Erik Peterson, Alois Dempf, and the Catholic Reichstheologie
Klaus Tanner (Professor of Systematic Theology and Ethics, Faculty of Theology, Ruprecht-Karls-University Heidelberg)
"The Fundamentalist Revolt Against Modernity"

Commentator: Samuel Moyn (Professor of History, Columbia University)

10:30-10:45    Break

10:45-12:15 Panel 6: Weimar Political Jurisprudence

Weimar political and legal thought engaged the break between nineteenth century German elitism  into the attempt to either buttress the liberal state or to undermine it. Kelsen, for example, represented the attempt to make jurisprudence a legal science along the lines that Weber had suggested for social science. Carl Schmitt, a right-wing Weberian and later legal architect for the Nazis, despised liberalism as a political and legal philosophy that stood for little more than marketplace values. This panel will engage the constitutional and private law struggles among the various strands of Weimar political and legal thinking toward showing the continued relevance for contemporary liberalism.

Chair: Stanley G. Payne (Hilldale-Jaume Vicens Vives Professor of History Emeritus, University of Wisconsin)

Panel:
Oliver Brand
(Associate Professor of Law, University of Münster)
 “‘Drops of Socialist Oil’: The Deprivatisation of Private Law in Weimar Germany”
Peter Caldwell (Professor of History, Rice University)
“Sovereignty, Constitutionalism, and the Myth of the State: Reflections on Article Four of the Weimar Constitution” (updated 10/6/08)
Marcus Llanque (Full Professor for Political Theory and the History of Political Ideas, University of Augsburg, September 2008)
“Weimar Jurisprudence and Economics: the Invention of ‘Wirtschaftsverfassung’ and the Integration of the Economy into Constitutional Law”

Commentator:  Aviam Soifer (Dean, William S. Richardson School of Law, University of Hawai'i)
 

12:15-1:30    Lunch Break (Lunch is provided for panel participants in the Pyle Center Main Dining Room )

1:30-3:00 Panel 7: Russian Law

Russian Jurisprudence, in significant ways drew on 19th century German legal thought and continued to do so with respect to Weimar legal thought. That influence will be explored in this panel.

Chair: Francine Hirsch (Associate Professor of History, University of Wisconsin)

Panel:
Peter Holquist (Associate Professor of History, University of Pennsylvania)
“The Russian Role in Formulating the Allies' May 24, 1915 Note on the Armenian Genocide: Or, Why it Is Not Surprising That the Russian Empire Inserted the Phrase ‘Crimes Against Humanity’”
Patrick Lally Michelson (Lecturer, University of Wisconsin)
Restoring Wholeness in an Age of Disorder: Europe's Long Spiritual Crisis and the Genealogy of Slavophile Religious Thought, 1835-1860
Randall A. Poole (Associate Professor of History, College of St. Scholastica)
 “Kantian Foundations of Russian Liberal Theory:  Human Dignity, Justice, and the Rule of Law

Commentator: David M. McDonald (Chair, Department of History, University of Wisconsin)

3:00-3:15    Break

3:15-4:45    Panel 8: “The German Idea of Freedom” Revisited

One of the most influential books of the 1950s on either side of the Atlantic was The German Idea of Freedom, written by the University of Chicago historian Leonard Krieger. Krieger's thesis, was that for all of its connections to Western intellectual traditions, Germany failed to transform its law, politics, and culture so as to ensure individual rights. Several generations of scholars have revised or rejected this argument, but the book remains relevant both as a study of German intellectual and political history in the late modern period and of the varieties of liberal thought in the Western world. We propose to explore the relevance of Krieger's argument for the Weimar moment, when the question of liberal potentialities and failures became more urgent than ever before.

Chair:  Alan Weisbard (Associate Professor of Law, Bioethics, Jewish Studies, and Religious Studies, University of Wisconsin)

Panel:
Steven Aschheim (Vigevani Chair of European Studies and Professor of History, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and Director of the Franz Rosenzweig Research Centre for German-Jewish Literature and Cultural History)
“Iconising the Weimar German-Jewish Intellectuals: Between the Critique of Liberalism and the Theological Impulse”
Robert Gibbs (Professor of Philosophy, University of Toronto)
“Freedom, Democracy and the Rule of Law”
Peter Gordon (Professor of History, Harvard University)
“German Idealism and German Liberalism:  The Case of Ernst Cassirer”
   
Commentator: Jerry Z. Muller (Professor of History, Catholic University of America)

4:45-5:00 Summation: Leonard V. Kaplan (Mortimer Jackson Professor of Law and Director, Project for Law and the Humanities, University of Wisconsin Law School; Law Fellow, Institute for Research in the Humanities)

5:00        Open Sessions Adjourn. Program continues with closed session for panelists and speakers.

6:00-7:30  Reception and Dinner for Panelists, Speakers and Invited Guests
Location:  The University Club

7:30-8:30  Dinner Program
Introduction: Len Kaplan 

Keynote Address by Richard Wolin:
"Walter Benjamin Meets the Cosmics: A Forgotten Weimar Moment"
(updated 10/13/08)

Richard Wolin is Distinguished Professor of History and Comparative Literature at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He has taught at Reed College, Rice University, the Central European University, and the University of Paris-X (Nanterre). His books, which have been translated into ten languages, include Heidegger’s Children: Hannah Arendt, Karl Lowith, Hans Jonas, and Martin Heidegger (2001) and The Seduction of Unreason: The Intellectual Romance with Fascism from Nietzsche to Postmodernism (2004) He has recently completed a study entitled The Wind from the East: French Intellectuals and the Chinese Cultural Revolution (Princeton UP, 2009) His is a frequent contributor to The Nation, New Republic and Dissent.


    9:00     Adjourn

Sunday, October 26

Location:     The Pyle Center
9:00        Coffee and Conversation

9:30-11:30  Summary Discussion – Open to All
Panelists will make brief summary comments to initiate discussion of the major themes and problems emerging from the conference.  The second half of the discussion will be open to all.

Chair:    Boaventura de Sousa Santos (Full Professor, University of Coimbra, and ILS Distinguished Scholar, University of Wisconsin Law School) 

Panel:  
Jerome E. Copulsky (Assistant Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies and Director of Judaic Studies, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University)

Gabriel Ricci
(Associate Professor of Philosophy, Elizabethtown College)
“The Ideological Struggle for the German Soul in Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain”

Frank Tuerkheimer
(Professor Emeritus, University of Wisconsin Law School)

Commentator: Douglas G. Morris (Assistant Federal Defender and author)

11:30        Conference Adjourns


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