Call for Papers: Interdisciplinary conference – “To boldly go where no man has gone before: The Fascination with the Unknown: Time”

Berlin, Germany
9 – 11th Jul 2015
Deadline: 1st Mar 2015

The unknown and unfamiliar enthrall us. They exert a profound fascination. Following an interdisciplinary symposium, which explored the fascination with the unknown with regard to space (“To boldly go where no man has gone before – Fascination with the Unknown: Space”, 30 th -31 st May, 2014), this conference will explore the attraction of the unknown with regard to time. Unknown time alludes to specific periods of time that have not yet been fully explored, remain mysterious and magical, and might be perceived as ominous or auspicious. Unknown time(s) may be situated in the past, the present, or the future. Predictions and prophecies indicate the human need to come to terms with unknown time, to ascribe it meaning, to make it known. Science, culture, and the arts have approached unknown periods of time in diverse ways. While historians and archaeologists attempt to dissect and rationalize these times, in literature and art, unknown time(s) is/are often carefully constructed and preserved. The fine arts, in particular, play a crucial role in the representation, conceptualisation, and construction of unknown time. They relate to or represent unknown time (as, for instance, in utopian or dystopian fiction) or may even create new forms of an unknown, future time, as presented, for instance, in science fiction. To explore the connection between time and the fascination of the unknown and discuss various forms, functions, and effects of unknown time, we invite papers from a broad range of disciplines.

Papers may address, but are not limited to, one or several of the following questions:

  • What is ‘unknown time’? How can it be conceptualised, and how is it filled, staged, and represented?
  • How can time be familiarized or defamiliarized, made known or/and unknown?
  • What are the processes involved in making time known/unknown?
  • Which mechanisms are involved in the re- or deconstruction of time?
  • How is the issue of unknown time addressed within and across the disciplines?
  • How do literature and the arts confront unknown times, past, present, and future?
  • To what extent does unknown time relate to unknown space? How to these concepts of time and space interact with regard to the unknown?


Abstracts (300 words max.) for 30-minute presentations should be submitted by 01 March 2015 and include the name, affiliation, and email address of the presenter as well as a short bio. Please send your abstracts to and

The conference will be financed by Die Junge Akademie (The German Young Academy) and organized
by Research Group “Fascination” ( The Junge Akademie was founded in 2000 by the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities and the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina as the first young academy worldwide. Travel costs and accommodation of the presenters will be covered by Die Junge Akademie.

Organizers: Sibylle Baumbach (English Studies, Mainz), Lena Henningsen (Chinese Studies, Freiburg), Katharina Heyden (Religious Studies, Bern), Klaus Oschema (History, Heidelberg)


Download this announcement as PDF…


Die Junge Akademie (German Young Academy)
at the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities
and the German National Academy of Sciences
Jägerstrasse 22/23
10117 Berlin


Leave a Comment