Call for Submissions

Application deadline



Archival and documentation studies, library and information science, ethnology, German studies, history, art history, cultural studies, media studies, museology, philosophy, political science, psychology sociology, and related subjects


Participation in the Dresden Summer School is open to young postgraduates (esp. PhD students, post-docs, young museum professionals) from the relevant disciplines.


Deep-seated insecurities characterise our society today. Our images of the world, our moral values and our traditional structures of knowledge have been shattered and the political euphoria of the years 1989–1990 has vanished. This applies in equal measure to the alleged triumph of democracy and to the self-perception of ‘the West’ as the driver of progress and development. Geopolitical conflicts have further reinforced this sense of uncontrollable change.

As collectors, custodians, and mediators of material and immaterial cultural assets, museums and libraries are institutions with great social relevance. Having emerged from a desire to make the world comprehensible, public museums and libraries evolved in the 19th century into places that educated the nation’s citizens, but also served to provide affirmation of the nation’s culture. Museums continue to stand for the formation and strengthening of value systems and cultural identities today. For a long time, the products of foreign cultures were interpreted solely from a one-sided perspective and subordinated within the accepted hierarchy of the West. Today, the established order has begun to unravel thanks to globalised processes of knowledge transfer and the free availability of information through digitisation. The opening up of such institutions to the cultures of the world can create new perspectives, while simultaneously raising questions on our traditional self-image.

This raises the question of how cultural institutions can respond to an environment that is full of ambiguities and changing at an ever-faster pace, both digitally and globally. How can they position themselves in the face of such diagnoses as ‘fleeting times’ or ‘liquid modernity’ (Zygmunt Bauman), in which the ‘flexible person’ (Richard Sennett) in a ‘provincialized Europe’ (Dipesh Chakrabarty) is exposed to such rapid ‘acceleration’ (Hartmut Rosa) that the prevailing sense of uncertainty and dissolution of boundaries create a ‘society of fear’ (Heinz Bude)?

The Henry Arnhold Dresden Summer School 2015 aims to discuss strategies and opportunities that can be undertaken by cultural institutions to meet the challenges arising from this uncertainty and to develop ways of dealing with it. Cultural institutions are rooted in history. By simultaneously engaging in contemporary discourse, they possess—in theory—great potential for the contemplation of solutions for coping with and minimising this uncertainty. The question is, however, how can they best exploit and realise this potential?

In a very general sense, uncertainties can also be understood as equivocalness, multiple perspectives, ambivalences, and ambiguities. Cultural institutions can highlight these uncertainties, but also have the job of devising strategies to overcome them. How, for example, can we foster a ‘tolerance for ambiguity’ (Thomas Bauer), in other words, an inner sense of sovereignty over ambiguity? How can cultural institutions successfully evolve into spaces for discourse on the unknown in which social problems can be discussed, and new directions developed and established?

Within the framework of the Summer School, participants are encouraged to discuss and develop theoretical approaches and concrete project ideas with the help of incisive questions and concrete examples from Dresden’s art collections and exhibition venues. The Summer School offers a unique setting that facilitates an intensive and productive exchange with respected scholars and representatives from the museums and libraries.

The two-week programme encompasses lectures, workshops, panel discussions, and talks at the various institutions, their collections, exhibitions, and in their storerooms. A further feature of the course is the Dresden Summer School Lab, which is intended to provide a creative space for participants, where theoretical approaches and project ideas can be further developed. The results of the DSS Lab will be presented to the public at the end of the Summer School.


The fee for taking part in the Dresden Summer School is 250 EUR per person. Travel expenses will be covered and accommodation and catering provided.

In addition to the usual documents (cover letter, CV), applicants must provide a synopsis of a concept of their own, an idea for a project or a question that can be discussed at the Summer School. The idea or concept may be derived from the applicant’s own research, or from areas in which they are working, or comprise direct questions for the institutions involved. The synopsis should not exceed 8,000 characters (two pages).

The official language of the Summer School is German although some segments of the programme and individual discussions may be held in English. We expressly welcome applications from abroad though advise that candidates should be able to follow a lecture held in German.

Please send your application by email to

All applicants should receive confirmation by the end of June 2015.