Please join us for an exciting lecture in the Craig Young Scholars Series
Antje Pfannkuchen from Dickinson College will speak on
Reading the Unreadable—Hieroglyphics between metaphor and electrophore
Around 1800 hieroglyphics were popular as a concept and a reference in various fields, from science to theology to poetry. Attempts at the decipherment of the Egyptian hieroglyphs coexisted with the use of them as metaphors for various mysteries. Romantics like J.W. Ritter and Novalis learned about hieroglyphics from J.G. Herder and then dreamed of a “Golden Age, when all words become—figurative words—myths—And all figures become—linguistic figures—hieroglyphs—.” (Novalis) While they promised deep wisdom, hieroglyphs remained mostly unreadable, at least until 1822 when J.-F. Champollion published the first decipherments of the Rosetta stone. The Romantic’s desire to relate hieroglyphs to linguistic and therefore comprehensible signs aimed in two directions: to make the world more wondrous and at the same time to find deeper understanding of life’s mysteries. Some of the enigmatic inquiries the Romantics pursued lay in the most advanced sciences of their time and in images and signs they found in nature. A central question was whether and how these signs could be read.
The Craig Young Scholars Series is made possible by the generous support of Dr. Charlotte M. Craig and Colonel Robert B. Craig.