The Bernese Center for Cultural Studies emphasizes the diachronic and synchronic dimensions of culture in its research and teaching. We understand culture as a complex system of symbols (Ernst Cassirer). From an anthropological perspective, it is characteristic for human beings to create systems of symbols and to constantly develop these further. Their functions – communicating, creating meaning, explaining the world, and constituting the world – find concrete expression in cultural forms such as rituals, myths, kinship systems and, crucially, in artistic manifestations and practices. The latter include forms of expression in the fields of literature, the fine arts, music, dance, theater, film, and photography. The systems of symbols employed possess a high degree of discursive density, representivity, and self-reflectivity; thus they contribute to the constitution of a cultural memory that enables the creation of societal identities through a dynamic interaction between past and present points of reference, as well as between global and regional contexts. References to symbols enable the members of a culture to design images of Self and Other as well as to distinguish between them and other cultural and ethnic groups.
Because intercultural exchange and confrontation are increasingly important in a globalized world, and because they are connected to processes and conditions of valuation, communication, and mediality, the Bernese CCS conducts research into these complex phenomena and their social and cultural functions within an interdisciplinary conglomerate of diverse institutes at the Philosophical-historical Faculty. Thus the interdisciplinary research center of Bernese Cultural Sciences draws upon theoretical approaches stemming from various backgrounds: these include the traditions of German-language Cultural Science (Sigmund Freud, Georg Simmel, Max Weber, Ernst Cassirer, Aby Warburg, Walter Benjamin, Aleida and Jan Assman), French theory (Paul Ricœur, Maurice Halbwachs, Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, Fritz Fanon, Pierre Bourdieu), the British and American School of Cultural Studies (Richard Hoggart, Raymond Williams, Stuart Hall, Gayatri C. Spivak, Homi K. Bhabha), as well as Cultural Analysis (Mieke Bal). In order to examine the complex artistic phenomena of literature, the fine arts, film, photography, music, theater, and dance, central importance is accorded to literary theory, image and media theory, gender and performitivity theory, and myth theory.
Fields of Interest and Thematic Priorities
Both in research and teaching, the CCS embraces several fields of interest. Among its topical priorities are
The CCS offers the following MA study programmes:
In addition to this, the CCS shows its dedication to high-level interdisciplinary research by offering the Doctoral Programme Mediality, Valuation, and Forms of Cultural Transmission in a Global Context.
A great number and variety of institutes of the philosophical-historical faculty are either associated or affiliated with the CCS – both in terms of study programmes and research. This high degree of embeddedness and connectivity regarding other philological disciplines is one of the distinguishing marks of the CCS.