Conferences – Call for Papers

Genealogy of Popular Science

The Centre for Cultural and General Studies at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Germany invites to submit abstracts for the International Conference "Genealogy of Popular Science. From Ancient Ecphrasis to Virtual Reality" that will be held on June 15-16, 2018.

  • Date: 15.06.2018 – 16.06.2018
  • Institution: Karlsruher Institut für Technologie
  • Location: Karlsruhe / Deutschland
  • Additional documents: Abstract; short CV
  • Documents to: Dr. Jesús Muñoz Morcillo (jesus.morcillo[at]

The aim of this conference is to initiate an interdisciplinary, genealogically reflected debate about Popular Science as a recurrent cultural technique. The category Popular Science will be elucidated in an interdisciplinary and diachronic way, focusing on both its socio-anthropological construction and the formal and functional techniques, which characterize the dissemination of scientific knowledge in its production and reception contexts. For this purpose, philological and iconographic research approaches are especially welcomed, but other disciplines such as the Sociology of Science, the History of Science, and Gender Studies are also beneficial for the main goal. The multi-layered examination of the cultural technique “Popular Science” will throw light on a research field that has hardly been investigated so far.

The lectures given during the conference will be published in an edited volume.

Possible topics may include, but are by no means limited to:


ancient rhetoric and the ancient public, progymnasmata, ecphrasis, technical ecphrasis, didactic poetry, techniques for seeing the unseeable (enargeia), satire and science, protreptical speeches and exoteric texts, the public of ancient historiography, poikilography as science popularization, art and sophía, dissemination of myths and history in Greek pottery, aesthetics of education, places of knowledge and performance, depictions of philosophers and “scientists” in Antiquity.

Middle Ages:

the preacher as a human medium, vulgar Latin and Weltanschauung, world history in vernacular languages, encyclopaedic telling, origin of the Studia Generalia, goliardic traditions, sacred art and Weltanschauung, the public of illuminated manuscripts, reformation and popularization of knowledge.


emigration of Byzantine scholars and ideas to the West, impact of the printing machine in the popularization of knowledge, ecphrasis and painting, public lectures, the Theatrum Anatomicum, new science ex suppositione and superstition, the public of the cabinets of wonders, impact of the paragone delle arti on the dissemination of knowledge, public communication of inventions and discoveries.


the first modern science communicators, scientific experiments as spectacle for the public, the figure of the experimentator in the arts, satire, and mode periodicals as source of popular scientific knowledge, relationship between inventions and decoration (e.g. Newton's cradle), legitimation discourses on natural sciences, social acceptability, depictions of scientists, women as early science communicators, poetry and science in Romanticism, scientific bestsellers.


history of modern science communication, origins and means of public understanding of science, scientific literacy, public engagement, the golden age of science publicists in the mass media (Carl Sagan, Attenborough, Kenneth Clark etc.), gender equality in science communication, art as science communication, new media and old techniques of science communication, virtual reality and museums etc.

Cross-epochal topics:

political function of science communication, gender issues, continuity and / or recurrence of certain communication formats, diachronic discourse analysis, representation of scientists and the public in the course of time.

Guidelines for Abstract Submission

Researchers from Germany and abroad are invited to email an abstract for a paper (up to 500 words, in German or English) and a short CV to Dr. Jesús Muñoz Morcillo (jesus.morcillo[at] by Wednesday, 31 January 2018, midnight. The time allocated for a paper presentation is 30 minutes and 15 minutes for work-in-progress-presentations. Please, follow the instructions below.

Language: German or English
Format’s description: Lecture (30 min.) or Work-in-Progress Talk (15 min.)
Lecture: relevant contribution to research, i.e., paper presentation
Work-in-Progress Talk: preliminary results
Participation in the publication (yes/no)
Length of the title: max. 150 characters
Text body: 500 words (Arial 12px; 1.5 line spacing)
Bibliography: quoted texts and further literature
Curriculum Vitae
Contact details: surname, first name, E-Mail, institution, telephone number


Submission of the abstract: Wednesday, 31 January 2018, midnight
Author notification: Wednesday, 28 February 2018
Submission of the paper: Thursday, 31 May 2018, midnight
Conference: Friday, 15 June 2018 (4 p.m.-8 p.m.) and Saturday, 16 June 2018 (9 a.m.-6 p.m.)

For more information please visit the conference site at:

Scientific Head

Dr. Jesús Muñoz Morcillo,, Tel. +49 (0)721 48933 Prof. Dr. Caroline Y. Robertson-von Trotha,, Director of the ZAK | Centre for Cultural and General Studies at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) Rüppurrer Str. 1a, Haus B, 5. OG D -76137 Karlsruhe

Scientific Partners

Institut für Kunst- und Baugeschichte am Karlsruher Institut für Technologie, Fachgebiet Kunstgeschichte, Prof. Dr. Oliver Jehle, Dr. Alexandra Axtmann Institut für Germanistik am Karlsruher Institut für Technologie, Abteilung Mediävistik und Frühneuzeitforschung, Prof. Dr. Mathias Herweg

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