Shadow Hunting: Aby Warburg reads Thomas Carlyle

Shadow Hunting: Aby Warburg reads Thomas Carlyle
25 January 2019, 5.30pm - 7.00pm
Warburg Institute, Woburn Square, London WC1H 0AB

Speaker: Dr Hans Christian Hönes (Leo Baeck Institute, London).

One of Aby Warburg’s favourite books throughout his life was Thomas Carlyle’s “Sartor Resartus”. Warburg clearly identified heavily with the novel’s protagonist, Professor Diogenes Teufelsdröckh. This might be surprising, given the fact that Carlyle’s book is a satire of German academia, with the main character (whose name translates literally as “devil’s dung”) an erratic and haphazard individual, lost in metaphysical vapours and unable to commit any coherent thoughts to paper.
However, this brief characterisation might already suggest some affinities between Warburg’s and Teufelsdröckh’s academic and biographical struggles. This paper explores how “Sartor Resartus” became a projection space for Aby Warburg, that allowed and forced him to reflect on his own career, academic output, and the legacy he might leave behind.

 All welcome.

The Bilderfahrzeuge Project

The research project ‘Bilderfahrzeuge. Aby Warburg’s Legacy and the Future of Iconology’ is dedicated to the study of the migration of images and ideas, objects and texts. They are explored from a political perspective and in a broad historical and geographical context. The project, which was initiated in 2014, is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education. For more information please visit our website at:


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