Visions of Europe

Interdisciplinary Contributions to Contemporary Cultural Debates

by Gail Hart (Volume editor) Anke S. Biendarra (Volume editor)
©2014 Conference proceedings 178 Pages


How do we as scholars envision Europe? Participants in a two-day research symposium bring a variety of disciplinary and interdisciplinary responses to this complex question. Distinguished US scholars address the European continent, its history and culture, and its politics in essays that range from the intellectual tradition to poetics and world literature, from the air war to plurilingualism, from religious symbolism to Europe’s colonial legacy. These contributions comprise a portrait or vision of Europe today; the challenges it faces, and the challenges we face in confronting it as a cultural and geopolitical entity.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • Editors’ Introduction
  • Ceci n’est pas un manifeste—Envisioning Europe and European Studies
  • The European Crisis and the Idea of Unification in the German Public: Philosophical Legacies, Political Challenges
  • Reich or Nation? Versions of European Statehood in the Treaty of Westphalia (1648)
  • Gassing Europe’s Capitals: Planning, Envisioning, and Rethinking Modern Warfare in European Discourses of the 1920s and 1930s
  • The Headscarf in Germany: A Critical Reading of the Feminist Debate
  • Division as Unity: Plurilingualism and Language Education in Europe
  • Tradition and the Multi-National Corporation: T.S. Eliot’s Europe
  • European Visions in Albert Camus’s Abolitionism
  • Poetry and the Public Sphere: World Literature and European Languages
  • Aimé Césaire: Europe, the Caribbean, or Africa?
  • Contributors

Editors’ Introduction

In January 2012, the University of California, Irvine’s programs in French, German, Italian, Russian, and European Studies merged and became the Department of European Languages and Studies. This was not a union forced from above, but rather a merger that the colleagues had argued for because of a shared interest in the idea of Europe, the continent, its history, its culture, its politics, its coherence and also its occasional incoherence. As an inaugural gesture, our way of saying ‘here we are,’ we organized a campus-wide conference and invited Russell Berman of Stanford University as our keynote speaker. It was an opportunity to get to know one another better through our work and also to collaborate across disciplinary lines on our central object of inquiry, the diverse cultures of Europe. The conference “Visions of Europe: Unity and Division” was held on March 1–2, 2012. In addition to Professor Berman and colleagues from the humanities, arts, and social sciences at UC Irvine and UC Davis, Consuls or consular representatives of Belgium, The Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, and Switzerland followed our invitation and addressed the group.

The current volume, Visions of Europe: Interdisciplinary Contributions to Contemporary Cultural Debates, brings together a selection of the papers presented at the conference, revised for publication, along with the keynote address and an introduction to the collection and the field by John H. Smith. Together, these essays show the ways in which cultural, political, historical, literary, and linguistic lines of inquiry can complement one another in delineating what the study of Europe entails today. They present an image of individual fields and of European Studies that we hope will be both useful and inspiring for further work in the discipline.

Gail K. Hart and Anke S. Biendarra ← 7 | 8 →


← 8 | 9 →

Ceci n’est pas un manifeste
Envisioning Europe and European Studies

John H. Smith

“We wanted to present a possible vision of the future of Europe.” – “Wir wollten eine mögliche Vision der Zukunft Europas zeigen.”

Daniel Cohn-Bendit, Interview, 71

“We don’t seem to have time for the further development of democracy, for solidarity and visions for this [new] Europe, in brief, for ‘Eurovisions.’” – “Wir scheinen keine Zeit für die Weiterentwicklung von Demokratie, für Solidarität und Visionen für dieses Europa, kurz gefasst – für ‚Eurovisionen‘ – zu haben.”

Oskar Negt, Interview

How do we “see” Europe? In what genre do we write down those visions? Beginning in 2009 in the wake of the euro crisis, a sizable number of manifestos—explicitly so called or implicitly serving that literary and political function—have appeared that attempt to give a “vision of Europe.” Some (e.g., Jürgen Habermas’) are consciously downplayed in the form of essays, although they, too, respond to “the lack of a broader perspective” of what Europe should be (Habermas 41). Small books like Ulrich Beck’s have also been accompanied by Internet manifestos (“We are Europe”). They offer both explanations of the crisis’s origin and prescriptions for future action, parsing out blame variably to neoliberalism, the financial sector, the national governments (particularly Angela Merkel’s Germany), the parties on the right or left, the European Union itself (“Brussels”), and other major and minor actors.

About the same time, in a distant part of the globalized world, namely, Southern California, a new academic unit was being forged out of programs in German, French, Italian, and Russian, which came to have the name, “Department of European Languages and Studies” (a title whose awkwardness and ungrammaticality reflect both the need for compromise and the fulfillment of multiple interesting functions—see below). As a celebration of the successful founding and as an exploration of the scholarly territory that the ← 9 | 10 → new department would be covering, a full two-day conference was held on the topic “Visions of Europe,” out of which the present volume has emerged.

What is the connection between the visions of Europe presented at the conference and in this volume, on the one hand, and the many manifestos, essays, programs, and position papers being published today in Europe? Why engage in the one kind of envisioning or in the other? It might seem as if the one set contains the “real” visions, aimed at transforming or saving Europe, while the others are merely “academic.” I will argue that both types of visions are doing different and important work. On the one hand, the manifestos are involved in the process of “political will-formation” (a phrase used in Article 21 of the German constitution and often cited by Habermas, e.g., 126–27) that is indispensible for the continuation of the European Union as an experiment in transnational democracy. The analyses and proposals might differ widely, but precisely the dialogue they establish promotes the public sphere in and about Europe that is so necessary. On the other hand, the scholarly investigation of historical and contemporary events from a decidedly European perspective, which also points beyond the borders of Europe, is involved in a transformation of knowledge and its institutional organization, which likewise reflects and promotes a unique transnational moment. Both kinds of visions play their role in support of the project which is Europe, i.e., in giving shape to an entity and an area of research that does not so much have an identity as an open future toward which Europeans and Europeanists must strive by interrelating its various organs into an evolving whole (for a similar vision of “transnational European studies,” see Donahue and Kagel).


A vision is not worth anything if it is not made manifest. That is the raison d’être of manifestos. It is, after all, the motivation behind one of the most famous of all time, the Communist Manifesto, to make the “ghost” that is “haunting Europe” visible. The desperate need for visions of Europe to be made manifest now so that Europe itself does not get reduced to nothing but a past ghostly apparition can be measured by the number of manifestos that have been published over the past two years or so—be they called by that generic name or “essay” or “lecture.” They are peppered with the imperative mood (as in “Don’t accept the present situation!” in Cohn-Bendit and Verhofstadt 21), are full of fundamental ← 10 | 11 → questions that attempt to provide direction (like the title of the collection of Weimar lectures, Quo vadis Europa?), and strive to make truly imaginable for the readers a Europe that can move radically beyond the formation of the nation state, beyond even a mere collection of nation states.


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2014 (April)
Feminismus Eigenstaatlichkeit Kriege plurilingualism penal policy Europäische Union
Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2014. 178 pp., 7 b/w fig.

Biographical notes

Gail Hart (Volume editor) Anke S. Biendarra (Volume editor)

Gail K. Hart is Professor of German at the University of California, Irvine (USA) and founding chair of the Department of European Languages and Studies. She has published books on Schiller, bourgeois tragedy, and Gottfried Keller. Anke S. Biendarra is Associate Professor of German at the University of California, Irvine (USA). Her publications are in the areas of German literature and culture of the 20th and 21st century, globalization, transnationalism, and Europeanization.


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180 pages