Katharina Kepler (1546–1622)
Johannes Kepler’s Defence of his Mother
in her ‘Witch’ Trial
The Disharmony of the World
|Johannes Kepler (1571–1630)|
Inner Circle Seminar No. 236
Sunday 30 April 2017
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The research of Ulinka Rublack, Professor of Early Modern European History at St John’s College in the University of Cambridge, has challenged this tradition of denigrating Katharina. Professor Rublack shows, in her book The Astronomer and the Witch: Johannes Kepler’s Fight for his Mother (2015), that Kepler brilliantly argued and demonstrated in the trial that his mother’s behaviour needed no demonological explanation of the kind proposed by her inquisitors; on the contrary, her conduct was socially intelligible in ordinary human terms, as the understandable conduct of an older widowed woman in her social situation. In this way of seeing and presenting the phenomena, Kepler anticipated Laing and Esterson’s twentieth-century work with women diagnosed as ‘schizophrenic’, reported in Sanity, Madness and the Family (1964), which we have been studying in the Inner Circle Seminars.
In today’s seminar Ulinka Rublack will guide us through her research findings. She and the composer Tim Watts will also introduce us to extracts from both Hindemith’s opera and Watts’s own new opera Kepler’s Trial (2016), written at her instigation and with her collaboration as a response to Hindemith’s unhistorical treatment of Katharina in his opera.
Is this ‘merely’ an historically fascinating episode? Or is the inquisitorial method of the ‘witch’ trials four hundred years ago still alive, as Szasz, Laing and Esterson insisted, in the methods of diagnosis and treatment prevalent in our present-day ‘clinical’ psychiatry? And is the continuing disparagement of Katharina Kepler a paradigm of that continuing hegemony of the ‘calculative machination’ of natural-scientism that Heidegger documented and deplored? All the concerns of our other seminars are unified in today’s enthralling subject. Your contribution to the discussion will be warmly welcomed.
Professor Ulinka Rublack was born and raised in
She is editor of the Oxford Concise Companion to History. Her previous monographs include Dressing Up: Cultural Identity in Early Modern Europe, also published by Oxford University Press, which explores the relation between dress and identities in the period, won the Bainton Prize and was one of six books nominated for the Cundill Prize, the largest non-fiction history book prize in the world.
Ulinka Rublack is sole founder of the Cambridge History for Schools outreach programme; she is a co-founder of what became the Cambridge Centre for Gender Studies and has served on its working party for over ten years. She has been a full member of three European research networks and most recently served as a member of the steering committee of the AHRC-funded network on the history of luxury, led by Giorgio Riello. She has been visiting scholar at the Maison de l'Homme,
Professor Rublack has recently been awarded grants to collaborate with composer Tim Watts and video artist Aura Satz to create art work which responds to the story of Johannes Kepler and his mother. She is also co-investigator of a Swiss National Foundation grant to explore the relationship of materiality, objects and emotional communities in the early modern world. She has recently been appointed as Gender Equality Champion for the University. She combines her busy career with raising two children.
Venue: Durrants Hotel,
Cost: Psychotherapy trainees £120, others £150, some bursaries; coffee, tea, biscuits, mineral water included; payable in advance; no refunds or transfers unless seminar cancelled
Apply to: Anthony Stadlen, ‘Oakleigh’, 2A
Tel: +44 (0) 20 8888 6857 +44 (0) 7809 433 250
For further information on seminars, visit: http://anthonystadlen.blogspot.com/