About this Project

(Project duration: July 2014 - June 2015)

Self-sacrifice, suicide, conversion, the exile, the founder, the internal enemy – these tropes and their ilk structure the social and political imaginary across the tradition. They change over time, but come back in surprisingly resilient forms. One of the great challenges in scholarship and pedagogy alike is to negotiate strategies for linking thought at the minute level of philology with the maximalist level of thinking about politics, culture, and the social bond across the history of ideas. Barbara Vinken (Professor of Romance and Comparative Literatures at the Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich) visited the University of Chicago in the Winter quarter of 2015 to participate in a faculty seminar devoted to exploring methods for tracing such figurations over the longue durée. Questions addressed included the difference between a trope and a motif, the relation between the figures of thought described by the classical rhetorical tradition and persistent cultural figurations, and whether the standard repertory of tropes still visible in nineteenth-century literature has become unintelligible today. The participants in the seminar represented a wide range of national literatures and traditions of political thought: Classics, Comparative Literature, French, German, Italian, Political Theory, and Russian.


Michèle Lowrie Receives NEH Fellowship

January 10, 2018

Michèle Lowrie (Classics) has received a prestigious fellowship to support research she pursued with Visiting Fellow Barbara Vinken on the Neubauer Collegium's Thinking Through Tropes project.

Visiting Fellows bring expertise, energy to the Neubauer Collegium

March 8, 2015

The robust Neubauer Collegium Visiting Fellows Program supports both short and long-term visits from guest scholars, facilitating an exchange of ideas that enriches the Neubauer Collegium’s projects.

Neubauer Collegium’s new research projects to tackle complex global questions

February 3, 2014

From the impact of a new government health insurance program in India to the profound questions surrounding death and end-of-life care, the 15 new research projects supported by the Neubauer Family Collegium for Culture and Society at the University of Chicago aim to provide new ways of studying some of the most complex questions facing contemporary society.


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