CfP: The 17th International Conference on the History of Concepts

University of BielefeldThe 17th International Conference on the History of Concepts: Communicating Concepts – Conceptualizing Communication

The deadline for sending in proposals is the 22nd April 2014.

The Seventeenth International Conference on the History of Concepts, organized by Willibald Steinmetz and Benno Nietzel on behalf of the History of Concepts Group (HCG) and to be held at the University of Bielefeld, 28-30 August 2014, brings together scholars from all disciplines interested in conceptual history. It offers a platform for interdisciplinary exchange on the problems and practice in the history of concepts and fosters the international network of conceptual historians. For the first time, the conference is held in Germany and hosted by the University of Bielefeld. More than any other place, this venue is associated with the German tradition of Begriffsgeschichte as represented in the work of Reinhart Koselleck and other scholars.

The motto of the 2014 conference “Communicating Concepts – Conceptualizing Communication” refers to the aim of bringing the history of concepts into closer contact with various strands of communication studies.

Our first objective will be to develop a better understanding of the emergence, the use and the diffusion of political, social, scientific or aesthetic concepts as acts of communication. Panels and individual papers should therefore reflect about “concepts in action”, not just about “concepts in books”. This means to analyze how concepts are embedded in communicative situations and how they are repeated, circulated or contested by means of communicative practices. Paper givers are invited to address the processes of articulating, transmitting, understanding or appropriating concepts. Studies of translations and adaptations of concepts across borders are particularly welcome. The conference will also shed light on the role of mass media for the development, diffusion and popularization of concepts. We hope to attract papers from the disciplines of history and political science as well as communication studies, sociology, linguistics, literary, cultural and media studies.

A second objective of the conference is to inquire into the ways in which communication itself has been conceptualized – in the humanities and social sciences as well as in fields of activity such as politics, religion, the economy, law, or the arts, to name but a few. Papers may deal with a broad range of vocabulary from scientific terminology to everyday language. This includes terms like information, propaganda, discourse, speech, rhetoric, conversation, not least the concept of communication itself. With a few exceptions, this is an underexplored semantic field. Historicizing and comparing different disciplinary or national traditions of conceptualizing communication may lead us to challenge existing limitations in historical communication studies.

In addition to contributions referring to the conference motto, other topics of general interest to all conceptual historians will be featured at the conference, in particular: the impact of the Digital Humanities on the practice of conceptual history, the intellectual history of Begriffsgeschichte, and the broadening of the epochal outreach of conceptual history into the 20th and 21st century on the one hand, the medieval and ancient periods of history on the other hand.

The organizers welcome proposals for papers or panels focusing on the conference motto, not excluding proposals on any other aspect of conceptual history, particularly to problems of theory and methodology.

Proposals can address, but are not limited to the following topics:

– Theories of communication and conceptual history

– Concepts of communication and their history

– Circulation of concepts across borders

– Conceptual history and Digital Humanities

– History of audio-visual and other media and conceptual history

Proposals for individual papers should be no longer than 400 words, and proposals for panels should not exceed 800 words. Short CVs of the speakers should be added (name, institutional affiliations, major publications – not more than 5). Panels at the conference will last two hours. There should be no more than four paper givers (or three paper givers and a commentator) per panel.

Please send your proposals to or

The deadline for sending in proposals is the 22nd April 2014.

Prof. Dr. Willibald Steinmetz, Dr. Benno Nietzel

University of Bielefeld

Faculty of History, Philosophy and Theology

PO Box 10 01 31

33501 Bielefeld



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