Reinhart Meyer-Kalkus will be coming to speak at the Seminar in Cultural History on Wednesday, February 1, 2012. His talk is entitled “Voices of the People in the Berlin Phono Archive.”

Reinhart Meyer-Kalkus currently serves as the Scientific Coordinator at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin and as Professor of German Philology at the University of Potsdam, Germany. He studied Philosophy and German at Ruhr University Bochum and received his Ph.D. in 1981 from the University of Göttingen, where he also held the rank of Lecturer and Assistant Professor. Dr. Meyer-Kalkus has previously been appointed as a Getty Research Scholar and Officier dans l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques of the French Republic. He has published extensively on oral traditions, musicology, language, and philosophy.

When thinking of phono archives in Berlin, generally, what first comes to mind is the Phonogramm-Archive, founded by Carl Stumpf at his Institute for Psychology and later curated by Erich Moritz von Hornbostel. One forgets that there has been and is still another archive of historical sound documents in Berlin, the Berliner Laut-Archiv, the collections of which date to 1909, but which was officially founded in 1920 as the “Lautabteilung an der Preußischen Staatsbibliothek” (the Sound Department of the Prussian State Library). This Lautarchiv was not the initiative of a German Herr Professor and serious scholar, such as Stumpf or Hornbostel, but rather of a schoolteacher and self-made man, Wilhelm Doegen (1877-1960), who never hid his commercial interests. Whereas the Phonogramm-Archiv primarily focused on European music for scholarly purposes, the aim of the Lautarchiv was to collect spoken language—be it the different languages and dialects in the world, German regional dialects, or spoken poetry. The hidden dream was to find an equivalent for Herder’s dream of the Stimmen der Völker (the voices of the people of the world). Today, the Phonogramm-Archiv, which is hosted by the Helmholtz-Center at Humboldt-University, houses 4,600 items and—next to the Vienna Phonogramm-Archive and the phono archives in St. Petersburg—is one of the largest sound archives of spoken language in Europe.

Light refreshments will be served at 5:45 pm. The presentation will begin at 6:00 pm.

RSVP is required. Please click on the registration link at the bottom of this page or contact [email protected]

PLEASE NOTE that our Lecture Hall can only accommodate a limited number of people, so please come early if you would like to have a seat in the main room. We also have overflow seating available; all registrants who arrive late will be seated in the overflow area.