Events in Torun: 12-16 september 2023

The 'Cultural studies' section

About the section

The conference "Nicolaus Copernicus and the Culture of Remembrance" is divided into three modules addressing the issues of

  1. historical memory,
  2. literature,
  3. the history of arts.

The common denominator for these three perspectives is memory studies, which is one of the most rapidly growing, interdisciplinary areas of research in the world. Just as memory studies is multifaceted and interdisciplinary, rooted in different disciplinary and national traditions, so is the definition of memory itself encompassing cultural, social, collective memory, as well as memory culture that includes cultures of remembering and commemorating. 

The aim of the conference is to re-read/define the figure of Copernicus through the prism of the memory of him, the legacy of the figure present in various European and non-European cultures. It is not a matter of reaching back to Nicolaus Copernicus, his life and work, but to the memory of him and his work, to the various forms of his presence in literature or the arts, in popular culture, in space, symbols, memorabilia and so on. We pose a question about the presence of the Copernican past and history in various cultural texts, and about his representations in collective and individual memory.

Idea of the Section 

This approach, focusing on the culture of memory, allows us to trace the presence of "Copernicus" in cultural texts regardless of their nature and the purpose for which they were created. Whether these will be, for example, cognitive purposes (as in the history of science), aesthetic purposes (as in the case of literature, arts and other works of artistic activity), political purposes (as in the case of monuments or the presence of the astronomer in propaganda texts), is a separate issue here, although one that also requires consideration. A comparative approach will bind together the whole of this international undertaking.

We have divided the conference into three modules, each with a profile theme. This division is primarily heuristic and organizational, and reflects disciplinary divisions. What binds the whole together is the memory cultures. All questions are of a working and exemplary nature. They do not exhaust the list of possible problems. hey are only meant to be an invitation and encouragement to own research within the framework of a given panel, and at the same time as an inspiration for research on the issues posed in other modules.

  1. Anthropology Section: The panel will center on issues related to socially and culturally oriented studies of the memory of Copernicus. The idea is to combine the history of knowledge and the studies of memory cultures, with a particular focus on elements of popular culture (comics, film, posters, or even stamps), collective memory, intergenerational transfer of knowledge, intercultural and political conflicts around this figure, or finally the history of memorial sites (including monuments or commemorative plaques, anniversaries, etc.).
  2. Literary Studies Section: The panel will primarily address the presence of the figure and the legacy of Copernicus' thought and ideas in literature and dramatic arts. A distinctive feature of the panel will be a comparative approach, juxtaposing different European traditions (while representatives and experts on each culture will be conference participants), as well as a systematic approach in diachronic terms, showing evolution and change. The issue of selecting and using the language and other means of artistic expression, aesthetic issues, but also the values associated with Copernicus, will be hallmarks of the panel.
  3. History and Art Section: Two co-occurring perspectives will come into view in the panel. On the one hand, we will address approaches taken by art history, i.e. the history of artistic realizations and transformations of Copernican ideas, as well as the commemoration of the figure of Copernicus himself. On the other hand, the panel will focus on the critical and artistic confrontation with this legacy along with its presence and relevance today. Historical questions, just as throughout the entire conference, will be inextricably linked with those that are relevant to the contemporaries.


Conference Programme

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Keynote speakers

prof. Pamela Smith (Columbia University, USA)
prof. Rens Bod
(University of Amsterdam)
prof. Hubert Łaszkiewicz
(University of Warsaw)
prof. dr Renato de Oliveira Brito
(The Catholic University of Brasilia, Brazil)
prof. dr hab. Michał Kokowski
(Polish Academy of Sciences)

International Programme Committee

prof. dr. L.W.M. (Rens) Bod (Universiteit van Amsterdam, Holland)
prof. dr hab. Zbigniew Chojnowski (University of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn, Poland)
dr hab. Adam Kola, prof. UMK (Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń, Poland)
dr hab. Joanna Kucharzewska, NCU prof. (Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń, Poland)
prof. dr Renato de Oliveira Brito (The Catholic University of Brasilia, Brazil)
prof. dr hab. Jan Wiktor Sienkiewicz (Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń, Poland)
prof. Pamela Smith (Columbia University, USA)

Organizing Committee

prof. dr hab. Cezary Bronowski (Department of Italian Literature and Literatures in Spanish, NCU Institute of Literary Studies)
prof. dr hab. Zbigniew Chojnowski (Department of Polish Literature, University of Warmia and Mazury)

dr Mateusz Hübner (Polish Academy of Sciences) 
mgr Michał Kłosiński (The Copernicus' House)
prof. dr hab. Adam Kola (Department of Slavonic Literatures, Institute of Literary Studies, NCU)

dr hab. Joanna Kucharzewska, prof. UMK (Faculty of Fine Arts, NCU) 
dr Marcin Lutomierski (Scientific Publishing House of the Nicolaus Copernicus University) 
prof. dr hab. Krzysztof Mikulski (Department of History of Early Modern Period and German Countries, NCU Institute of History and Archive Studies)
prof. dr hab. Wojciech Piasek (Department of Methodology, Teaching, and the History of Culture, NCU Institute of History and Archive Studies)
prof. dr hab. Jan Sienkiewicz (Department of 20th Century Art in Central Europe and in Exile, NCU Faculty of Fine Arts)
dr Renata Skowrońska (The Polish Historical Mission at the University of Julius Maximilian in Würzburg)
dr Michał Targowski (Department of History of Early Modern Period and German Countries, NCU Institute of History and Archive Studies)

prof. dr hab. Robert Traba (Institute of Political Studies PAS)
prof. dr hab. Maciej Wróblewski (Department of Anthropology of Literature and New Media, Institute of Literary Studies, NCU) 

Section Partners