Center for Interdisziplinary Research

Author's Colloquium with Christian Meier

Date: June 3 - 5, 2004
Organizers: Wilfried Nippel (Berlin), Aloys Winterling (Freiburg)

Critical acknowledgement of Christian Meier's oeuvre and its relevance to recent research was the main aim of the Author's Colloquium.
The contributions centred round four major fields of his work - Greek history, Roman history, contemporary German history and historical theory. With regard to methodology an interdisciplinary approach was chosen discussing Meier's central points not only by colleagues in the narrow perspective of Ancient history but with representatives of neighbouring disciplines like Oriental Studies, Classics, Archaeology, Anthropology or contemporary history. Within the frame of the typical Bielefeld institution Author's Colloquium dialogue without binding rituals provided the thrilling opportunity to discuss with as well as about an excellent scholar not only pointing out his fields of interest but focussing as well on aspects he did not treat.
Discussing Meier's oeuvre the central aspects with regard to Greek history were Oriental influences in the archaic time, political thinking and citizen identity in Athens and the political function of tragedy. Contrasting Greek and Roman history, the main focus was on the crisis of polis in comparison with crisis in the Roman aristocratic republic, looking at the influential concept of 'crisis without alternative' and Meier's well-known biographical work on Caesar. In the field of contemporary history Meier's role in the German Historikerstreit of the 1980s was analyzed while theoretical approaches had been worked out looking on the one hand at Max Weber's and Carl Schmitt's influence on Meier and discussing the fruitful interaction of Meier with Reinhard Koselleck's semantic historical concepts. Summing up the results of the discussions - rethinking, criticizing and developing new thoughts on Meier's œuvre - one can say that Christian Meier who took the opportunity to participate vividly in the discussions, to hold a public lecture on Classics and European history and to give the concluding statement, might be surprised that great scholarly work is not limited merely to the author's intentions.

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