David Kaufman

Following up, nearly nine centuries later, on a question voiced by John of Salisbury (Quis teutonicos iudices constituit nationum?, "Who put all of these Germans in charge”) I look at the complex relationship between German identity and the authority of the classical tradition, both literary and artistic. Specifically, in considering the visual contours of classicism, I examine how the idea of a Teutonic, or German visual component is often key to understanding the self-definition of classical" and anti-classical styles (including the “Gothic"). 


My project is essentially an intellectual history of the idea of the classical style. In particular, I focus on the discourse in four specific moments of renewed European (and particularly German) interest in the art and culture of Greco-Roman antiquity: during the mid-eighteenth century Enlightenment, at the end of the nineteenth century, and in the run-up to, and aftermath of, the Second World War.