During the 20th century outer space became the epitome of longing and a powerful projection for fantasies of futuristic expansion. The final conference of the Emmy Noether Research Group will focus on outer space as the setting for competing visions of the future. Presentations by all the members of the research group and invited guests will deal with the varied and diverse history of the so-called Space Age beginning with the period between the two world wars through the crisis-ridden 1970s from a European perspective.
The symposium will pursue a double aim: As the project's closing event, it will take stock of individual and collective contributions to the concerted historicization of outer space undertaken since the group's establishment in 2010. It will evaluate to what extent "astroculture" as a concept, research agenda, and a new field of historical research has been successfully integrated into mainstream twentieth-century historiography. Addressing political, cultural, technological, and transcendental aspects of space thought and spaceflight, the symposium will also examine the existence and potential characteristics of a particularly West-European variant of the global Space Age. Focusing on the role outer space played in the making of the past century's polymorphic and protean futures, it will discuss the transformation of these past planetary futures into today's planetized present.
Conference participants include Paul Ceruzzi (National Air and Space Museum, Washington, DC), Martin Collins (National Air and Space Museum, Washington, DC), Martina Heßler (Helmut-Schmidt-Universität Hamburg), Dirk van Laak (Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen), Michael J. Neufeld (National Air and Space Museum, Washington, DC), Helmuth Trischler (Deutsches Museum München), and Helmut Zander (Université de Fribourg).