Under the guidance of Professor Kerstin Bandt, graduate students Kristin Schroeder (Art History) and Katy Holihan (German) organized the January 2017 conference Vagaries of Objectivity/Launen der Sachlichkeit. This conference brought together professors, graduate students, and recent PhDs in the fields of German Studies, Art History, and History from Austria, California, New York, Tennessee, Colorado, and our home University. The two-day conference kicked off with a keynote presentation from "Mr. Sachlichkeit" himself, Professor Helmut Lethen, on the habitus of Prussian Finance Minister Johannes Popitz.
Professor Lethen set the stage for two days of intensive scrutiny of the polyvalent and often contradictory meanings of the term “Sachlichkeit” in the German context before and after World War I. Presentations on Bauhaus ghosts, pedantic Biedermeier artists, and inflation and counterfeit questioned the driving forces behind the historical applications of “Sachlichkeit.” Exploring the term in relation to the Arts & Crafts Movement, public health, photographic realism, exhibition practice, and factory design, participants transcended disciplinary borders, exposing the many guises of “Sachlichkeit” as modern sensibility, regulatory concept, political disposition, and critique of modernity.
Katy and Kristin would like to thank the departments of Germanic Languages and Literatures and History of Art for co-sponsoring the event and they extend heartfelt thanks to Professor Kerstin Barndt for her invaluable guidance and support. They would also like to thank keynote speakers Professors Helmut Lethen and Daniel Magilow, sponsors, speakers, participants, and staff for making this conference as fruitful an intellectual exchange as possible!