Abyss in German and Baltic Culture

Duration of the project

01.04.2023. - 31.10.2023.

Countries and institutions involved in the project

University of Tartu
University Potsdam
University Göttingen
University Greifswald
University Oldenburg
University Leipzig
Vytautas Magnus University
University of Latvia
Tallinn University

Project manager

Prof. Dr. Marko Pajević

Aims of the project

Forms and figures of the abyss pervade contemporary culture. Particularly in media such as films, TV-series and computer games, addressing often a younger public, the abyss is omnipresent, but the term abyss or abyssal elements in diverse forms appear also in literature. The notion is of particular importance in German history of ideas (for instance in mysticism, but also in the Romantic period or for philosophers such as Nietzsche and Heidegger), certainly also due to the strongly ambivalent German word – Abgrund (abyss) can be understand as bottomlessness but also as the ground/base from which something emerges. This ambivalence obviously goes back to the biblical abyssos, which embraces the apocalyptic and hell but also the original magma (cf. my edited volume

Abyss as a Concept for Cultural Theory. A Comparative Exploration, deGruyter, forthcoming 2023).

In spite of its importance in the history of ideas and its current social topicality, the notion has hardly been studied so far. The conference will investigate it in the German and Baltic space. Even though there is no identical term in the Baltic languages, the German influences on the Baltic cultures make it a worthwhile object of study. The analysis of Baltic concepts for this particular infinite depth would be of great interest.

Main activities of the project

Conference at Tartu University on 15/16 June 2023.

Direct and indirect target group of the project

Direct: 18 speakers

Indirect: Everybody interested in cultural theory, philosophy and literature, students and colleagues, more concretely all students and staff of philologies at Tartu University. We expect about 50 people attending the event.