class="csc-frame csc-frame-default"Is a knowledge society pure ideology?

Zentrum Geschichte des Wissens

Universität Zürich

Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich

Zentrum Geschichte des Wissens

Universität Zürich

Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich

LUKAS RATHJEN

Conversational Knowledge: Rhetorical Humanism in the Early Federal Republic (1947–1968)


Between 1947 and 1968, the genre of public conversation (Gespräch) enjoyed great popularity in the Federal Republic of Germany. Against the backdrop of Fascism, World War II and the Holocaust, as well as in the face of democratisation and reeducation, it became the preferred mode of speaking – especially among intellectuals. This research project examines the knowledge and technology of this new form of communication after 1945, using three formats and six contexts as examples: The conversation as a public face-to-face event ("Darmstädter Gespräche", "Kölner Mittwochgespräche"), the 'conversation' in radio ("Abendstudio", "Nachtstudio") as well as the 'conversation' in literature and science ("Gruppe 47", "Poetik und Hermeneutik").

With recourse to protocols, documents, press reports, letters, photographs as well as audio and video recordings in various archives, the humanistic rhetoric of conversation is examined in terms of its communicative, epistemic and social function. Thus, on the one hand, the various forms of knowledge that ensures the construction and reproduction of communication are elaborated; on the other hand, the project analyses knowledge in its specific mode of existence in conversation: the ways in which it becomes apparent and in which it does not. The first perspective brings out the epistemic and technical efforts that were necessary after war and mass murder to make interpersonal communication possible (knowledge of conversation); the latter explains why this form of communication became to be the practice that concealed certain facts and realities (knowledge in conversation). Based on methods of the history of knowledge and of deconstruction, the project sheds light on the simultaneity of communication and silence in post-war Germany.