ECLA Header

ISU 2006: Under Western Eyes

July 14 - August 25

Under Western Eyes is the title of Joseph Conradīs famous novel on repression and betrayal in the context of late 19th and 20th century Russian socialism and autocracy. In a broader sense it can be used to describe Western perceptions of cultural otherness as part of constructing self-identities of the West. Its questions thus address the themes that were developed in the 2006 summer programme:  

  • How did the discovery of the New World influence the emergence of modern European selfconsciousness?
  • Is "orientalism" an effective strategy of the Enlightenment's cosmopolitan project?
  • To what extent did the contact with other cultures frame the philosophical discussions on equality, inequality, and the state of nature?
  • Are cruelty and resentment essential features of colonial and post-colonial experiences?
  • Is the opposition to Russia a factor of strengthening Western identity? Is there not also a "Russian eye" that scrutinizes our life in Central Europe?

ECLA's 2006 Summer University offered a variety of activities that complemented the text-based part of the programme. ECLA's art historian gave lectures and led field trips and gallery visits, taking students out to Berlin's great museums and historical sites. Other Berlin walks are incorporated in the Explore Berlin component of the programme in which students focused either on the architecture or history of the city. An integrated film course looked at how some of the same themes students encounter in texts and city sites reemerge through the medium of film.