05/2013 - 11/2016
Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) :
503 000 Euro
Previous research on the Illuminati has concentrated mainly on their organisational structure and on the so-called 'higher knowledge'. Consequently, the documents of the order have so far been mainly printed documents, degree drafts and the correspondence of the leading members among each other. In contrast to this, the project pursued at the Gotha Research Centre focuses on a completely new corpus of sources, which has so far hardly been considered by research: It consists of about 150 unprinted essays from the years 1783-1787, which have been handed down in the estate of Johann Joachim Christoph Bode (1731-1793), the so-called "Schwedenkiste". The range of topics of these texts, most of which were read out at the meetings of Central German Illuminati, extends from epistemology and practical philosophy to ideological and moral questions and proposals for economic and social reform. In the sum of their diversity, the essays thus reflect the interests of the Late Enlightenment public and provide an insight not only into the reform efforts of the Illuminati motivated by the Enlightenment, but also into the possibilities and scope of the so-called 'popular enlightenment', which had one of its centres in Gotha in particular.
Knowledge, Spaces, and Media