The Re:Enlightenment Exchange 5: Knowledge as a Public Good

Oslo, May 18-19 2015

In our explorations of the Enlightenment heritage in the 21st century we have so far primarily focused on the forms, genres, and institutions, by which knowledge is produced, assembled, and transmitted. For the fifth Re:Enlightenment Exchange, taking place in Oslo May 18-20 2015, we will move beyond the forms and frameworks  and consider the actual work that knowledge performs in the world – how old and new knowledge gives rise to events, actions, innovations, and transformations.  This social, political, and intellectual dynamics is summed up in the phrase “knowledge as a public good”, where “good” is to be understood as a force at work in society, as something that can be shared, accessed, and used by all those who take part in that society. Thus, knowledge in the Enlightenment tradition is not something that can be kept within institutional borders, stored and transmitted by specific symbolic forms and their guardians. On the contrary, all knowledge comes with a pragmatic or even political index, and is released on society to change the context or situation, in which it emerged.

In the 19th and 20th centuries knowledge assumed its role in the world by means of specific institutional frameworks, first and foremost the disciplines, according to which only specific kinds of knowledge, produced by specific methods, according to specific theories, by means of specific technologies, and communicated by specific media, in response to specific knowledge needs in society, was as accepted as such. At the beginning of the 21st century, however, these needs have changed, and so have the technologies, and even the methods and theories, although at a much slower rhythm. The disciplines, on the other hand, distributing truth, power and wealth to certain kinds of knowledge, and not to others, remain more or less intact.

ReX5 will consist of three events, taking place at three different venues in Oslo.




May 18

University of Oslo, Niels Trechows hus, 12th floor, 0930-1500

The Geo-Temporal Re:Enlightenment: Centers, Peripheries, Mediation

Discussion with participation both from the University of Oslo and from the Re:Enlightenment Project about  how Enlightenment forms and practices moved from the centers, in London, Paris, and Berlin, to the peripheries, and how they changed on the way.

0930 – 1000 Welcome by Helge Jordheim (Oslo) and Cliff Siskin (New York)

1000 – 1200 Centers and Peripheries

Brief contributions by Ellen Krefting (Oslo), Siv Gøril Brandtzæg (Trondheim), Brita Brenna (Oslo), Trygve Riiser Gundersen (Oslo), Murray Pittock (Glasgow), Kim Sloan (London), William St. Clair (London)

1200 – 1300 Lunch

1300 – 1500 Mediation and Temporalization

Brief contributions by Helge Jordheim (Oslo), Rana Issa (Oslo), Einar Wigen (Oslo), Bodhissattva Chattopadhyay (Oslo/Delhi), Geoffrey Bowker (Irvine), Leslie Siskin (New York), Ivor Goodson (Brighton)


Directions from Hotel Savoy to the University of Oslo, Campus Blindern:

Take tram 17 or 18, direction Radiumhospitalet, from Tullinløkka tram stop to tram stop Universitetet Blindern. On your right hand side when entering the UiO campus you will have Niels Treschows hus (Niels Henrik Abels vei 36) – the building where the seminar is held on the 12th floor.



House of Literature, Amalie Skram, 1700-2200

Contested Enlightenment, 1700-1900

Public discussion on elements of the Enlightenment heritage, such as human rights and freedom of speech, and their current meanings, uses and status.

Interventions by Pete de Bolla (Cambridge) and Frederik Stjernfelt (København). Chaired by Anne Fastrup and Helge Jordheim.


Reception by the Fritt Ord Foundation, 1900-2000

Welcome by Knut Olav Åmås, director of Fritt Ord Foundation


Dinner in Kverneland, House of Literature, 2000


May 19

National Library, 0930-1900

New Forms of Re:Enlightenment: Archives, Genres, Disciplines, Databases, and Algorithms

0930–1130 Digital Re:Enlightenment

Collaborative intervention by Bill Blake (New York), Mark Algee-Hewitt (Stanford), Rachael Scarborough King (Santa Barbara), Seth Rudy (Memphis), Ryan Heuser (Stanford), Yohei Igarashi (Connecticut)

1130–1230 Lunch

1230–1430 Workshops with various materials from the National Library (each participant can choose three out of four)

  1. Enlightenment periodicals in Denmark-Norway
  2. The Archive in Motion Project
  3. Encyclopeadias in print and on the web
  4. Ngram and the Digital National Library

1430–1500 Coffee break

1500–1700 Are the Humanities viable? Questioning Labels and Disciplines.

Public discussion on the futures of knowledge beyond crisis lamentations, science wars, and instrumentalist polemics.

Brief contributions by Cliff Siskin (New York), Bill Warner (Santa Barbara), Shearer West (Oxford), Karen O’Brien (London) and Erling Sandmo (Oslo). Chaired by Helge Jordheim.

1730-1900 Business meeting of the Re:Enlightenment Project


Dinner at Restaurant Festningen at the Akershus castle and fortress, 2000


The House of Literature, The National Library and the Festingen restaurant are all in walking distance of the Hotel Savoy. (See map for details.)

The Re:Enlightment Exchange 5 Oslo is organized in cooperation with the Free Word Foundation and the Norwegian National Library.


Published May 8, 2015 9:05 AM - Last modified May 14, 2015 3:31 PM