Detail from the “Balloon-Prospect” image, featured in Thomas Baldwin’s Airopaidia (1786)
Detail from the “Balloon-Prospect” image, featured in Thomas Baldwin’s Airopaidia (1786).

It has become more and more evident that there is a need of theories that allow the historian to take aspects of transfer in history into account. Key concepts in a theoretical orientation of that kind can be ‘cultural transfer’, ‘mobility’, and ‘process’.

Cultural transfer is vital for the understanding of the dynamics of the 18th century. With this approach, relational and processual aspects can come into the fore, having the consequence that national borders do not divide but connect countries to each other. Networks were built across the borders, something that can be observed within the philosophical, artistic, and scientific fields. Cultural transfer has by now become established internationally within historiography, but questions should be raised about its relation to for example postcolonial hybridity and issues of gender.

Mobility – as essential to cultural, scientific, and artistic practitioners who moved into areas defined by diverse socio-political and religious discourses – is a key concept that may question the idea of sheer ‘influence’, showing how a processing activity can be capable of generating entirely new expressions. The juxtaposition of models can be examined without imposing the static frame of centre/periphery.

The theme of the workshop is the methodological and theoretical advantages that a processual perspective can give, allowing a better understanding of the specific meaning a cultural phenomenon can have within different contexts, be they regional, national, or continental.


13:00 – 13:45

The Process of Cultural Transfer: Feminist Utopianism as Example

Open Lecture, Alessa Johns, Professor of English, University of California, Davis.

14:00 – 14:45

Comparative History and Cultural Transfer: Theoretical and Methodological Considerations

Open Lecture, Andreas Åkerlund, Associate Professor of History, Södertörn University.

15:00 – 15:30


15:30 – 17:00

Panel discussion

The keynote lecturers: Alessa Johns and Andreas Åkerlund
Karin Sennefelt (Professor of History, Stockholm University),
Kristina Fjelkestam (Professor of Gender Studies, Stockholm University) 
Moderator: Anna Cullhed (Professor of Literature, Stockholm University)

The panel discussion focuses on how concepts such as ’cultural transfer’, ’process’, and ’mobility’ are productive for specific disciplines within the humanities. In what sense can these concepts pave the way for a transnational study of culture? Are they relevant for the study of the eighteenth century? The panel continues the discussion about issues raised by the keynote lectures, and contributes with perspectives from several theoretical and historical fields of study. 

About the Guest Lecturers

Alessa Johns
Alessa Johns.

Alessa Johns is Professor of English at University of California, Davis. Her work focuses on the long eighteenth century; her interests include British literature and culture, European women writers, Utopian literature and theory, Travel, the study of Disasters, Jane Austen, and Anglo-German cultural exchange. She is an affiliated faculty member in German and Comparative Literature. She served as Reviews Editor for Eighteenth-Century Studies from 2004-2011. Her current book project is The German Invention of English Studies, 1735-1820.

Read more about Johns at the website of University of California.

Andreas Åkerlund
Andreas Åkerlund.

Andreas Åkerlund is Associate Professor and senior lecturer of History at Södertörn University. His research focusses international contacts and exchanges within the fields of science and education as well as the foreign policy and public diplomacy aspects of scientific and educational internationalization. Åkerlund is presently investigating the Swedish governmental steering of public diplomacy 1998-2018, the history of Swedish post-World War II internationalization policy as well as interwar German propaganda in Swedish newspapers.

Read more about Åkerlund at Södertörn University's website.