Futuring the Stars: Europe in the Age of Space

Alexander C.T. Geppert's picture
March 18, 2016 to March 19, 2016
Subject Fields: 
Contemporary History, Cultural History / Studies, European History / Studies, History of Science, Medicine, and Technology, Popular Culture Studies

Over the course of the twentieth century, outer space has developed into a predominant site of utopian thought and futuristic expansion scenarios. Arguing that space transformed into a place where competing visions of the future were projected, posited and played out by experts and the public alike, the final conference of the Emmy Noether Research Group “The Future in the Stars: European Astroculture and Extraterrestrial Life in the Twentieth Century” at Freie Universität Berlin will examine the rise and fall of the European Space Age from the interwar years through the Post-Apollo period.

Featuring presentations by group members and invited guests, the symposium pursues a double aim. As the project's closing event, it will take stock of individual and collective contributions to the concerted historicization of outer space undertaken since the group's establishment in 2010. It will evaluate to what extent 'astroculture' as a concept, research agenda and a new field of historical research has been successfully integrated into mainstream twentieth-century historiography. Addressing political, cultural, technological and transcendental aspects of space thought and spaceflight, the symposium also examines the existence and potential characteristics of a particularly West-European variant of the global Space Age. Focusing on the role outer space played in the making of the past century's polymorphic and protean futures, it will discuss the transformation of these past planetary futures into today's planetized present.

Conference participants include Paul Ceruzzi (Washington, DC), Martin Collins (Washington, DC), Martina Heßler (Hamburg), Dirk van Laak (Gießen), Michael J. Neufeld (Washington, DC), Helmuth Trischler (Munich) and Helmut Zander (Fribourg). 

Registration is required to attend the symposium as the number of seats available is limited; to register please contact the conveners at astrofuturismus@fu-berlin.de.



FRIDAY, 18 March 2016

10:00–11:00 Panel I: Introducing Space

Chair: Helmuth Trischler
Alexander C.T. Geppert: The Final Countdown: Europe's Extraterrestrial Futures in the Twentieth Century

11:30–13:00 Panel II: Localizing Space

Chair: Paul Ceruzzi
Katherine Boyce-Jacino: Spaces of Knowledge and Experience: Planetaria and Cities, 1925–1950
Philipp Aumann: Belief in Progress as Leitmotif: The Place of Peenemünde in European Astroculture

14:30–16:00 Panel III: Engineering Space

Chair: Martina Heßler
Daniel Brandau: Distrusted Futures: Rocket Technology in Post-War Germany, 1948–1963
Robert Poole: An Englishman in Orbit: Arthur C. Clarke, Techno-Prophet

16:30–18:00 Panel IV: Imaging Space

Chair: N.N.
Jana Bruggmann: Re-Envisioning Earth in the Age of Globalization
Natalija Majsova: Post-1961 Space Imagery and Meta-Reflections on the Dawn of the Space Age


SATURDAY, 19 March 2016

09:30–11:00 Panel V: Realizing Space

Chair: Regina Peldszus
Ralf Bülow: To the Moon and Beyond: Outer Space in West-German Television in 1966
Tilmann Siebeneichner: Europeans in Orbit: Spacelab as lieu de l'avenir, 1973–1985

11:30–13:00 Panel VI: Exalting Space

Chair: Helmut Zander
Thore Bjørnvig: Is There a Common Mythology of the Twentieth-Century European Space Age?
Benjamin Dittmann: Ashes to Ashes: Biopolitics of Death in Space

14:00–15:30 Panel VII: Revisiting Space

Chair: Alexander C.T. Geppert
Martin Collins: Astroculture and Historiographies of the Modern
Dirk van Laak, Michael Neufeld and Helmuth Trischler: European Astroculture and the Making of a Global Age (Panel Discussion)

16:00 End


Contact Info: 

The Future in the Stars.
European Astroculture and Extraterrestrial Life in the Twentieth Century
Emmy Noether Research Group

Freie Universität Berlin
Koserstrasse 20
D-14195 Berlin