Thinking Humanities

May 11 - 12, 2016 - 6:00 p.m.
Walter Benjamin
Walter Benjamin
Organized by
Facultad Geografía e Historia UNED

At the present time, Humanities have lost the Renaissance concept stemming from the linguistic, social and philosophical-historical disciplines that were at every level of the formal education still taught a few decades back. The processes of globalisation inscribed in capitalist systems have prioritised education as a field of pragmatic knowledge at the expense of those disciplines engaged in the formation of civilised social coexistence and the role of citizenship understood from responsibility.  

Consequently, professionals from the sphere of humanism seldom question the purpose of their work or the extent of its usefulness to society, making the assumption that they do not require justification in social terms. Yet avoiding this justification causes the direction of historical development and the future of intellectual innovation to remain solely in the hands of scientific and technical development.

This situation calls for an overhaul of Humanities, for instance that which is put forward by the German literary theorist Sigrid Weigel, the English historian Peter Burke, and the Italian philosopher and politician Gianni Vattimo, who all analyse the changes to the current sociopolitical and economic situation, the dynamics of academic specialisation in the combination of humanistic disciplines and the problems that stem from “transhumanism”. These approaches are key to reverting the self-exclusion, clearly visible in recent years, from this school of thought.

The lectures, organised by UNED’s Department of Geography and History, look to resume a new commitment to our most critical condition, opening up a forum to discuss how to responsibly address the need for Humanities research to be linked to the relevant and crucial problems in the present.


Actividad pasada May 11, 2016 - 6:00 p.m.
Sigrid Weigel lecture
The ‘Human Kind’ as an Ongoing Undertaking-Humanities’ Commitment to the conditio humana

Moderated by: Aurora Fernández Polanco

Sigrid Weigel. A professor of German literature, she is one of the most distinguished figures in the field of Literary Theory and Cultural Studies in Germany. Her name is associated with the fruitful concept of interdisciplinarity deployed in the most divergent fields of knowledge. Her most recent publications include: Walter Benjamin: Images, the Creaturely, and the Holy (2013) and Conversion, Exchange, and Replacement (2007).

Actividad pasada May 12, 2016 - 6:00 p.m.
Peter Burke lecture
Specialisation: Blessing or Curse?

Moderated by: Antonio Urquízar

Peter Burke. An English historian widely known for his studies on Modern and Contemporary Cultural History. Throughout his extensive career Burke has published numerous academic articles in specialist media, and his most recent works include Cultural Hybridity (2012) and Cultural Translation in Early Modern Europe (2010).