European Crisis and Reorientation

Open international workshop on Karl Barth’s Der Römerbrief in the cultural and intellectual context of post WWI Europe

The epoch in the aftermath of First World War in cultural and intellectual Europe was marked by tensions and contradictory movements, shock and resignation, but also by a vigorous drive for reorientation. Such crises of orientation pose a challenge to religion to manifests its relevance. How movements of theological, cultural and political thought interrelate in the perception of crises is the theme of this workshop, celebrating at the same time the centenary of an epoch-making theological text: The Swiss theologian Karl Barth’s Romans commentary, Der Römerbrief, published in the winter of 1921-22, serves here as a prism for these interrelations.

Contributions from an international assembly of researchers cover both Der Römerbrief as it mirrors intellectual and cultural movements of interwar Europe, the reception of 19th century thinkers in the book and its further cultural impacts.

In addition the programme includes two smaller short paper sessions. Proposed topics for papers: The early work of  Karl Barth, its receptions and impact, theology and culture in the interwar period, concepts of theology and crisis.

The workshop is open to all interested and will be conducted in a hybrid format at the Faculty of Theology and online. 

The workshop is fundet by CEMES 

Registration:Please register via email to Christine Svinth-Værge Põder, by October 15 in order to participate physically or by October 25 to receive a zoom link for online participation.

If you wish to present a paper at the workshop, please also send a short abstract of no more than 500 words.



October 28, 2021






Interactions between theology and culture in the intellectual movements after WW1 with special attention to Der Römerbrief (Ola Sigurdsson, University of Gothenburg)



Coffee break



Political and social thought in the Weimar period as context for Der Römerbrief  (Liisi Keedus, University of Tallinn)



The European post WW1 period as a cultural and literary epoch (Adam Paulsen, SDU)




October 29, 2021



The Voice of the Preacher – Literary and Rhetorical Aspects of Der Römerbrief (Håkan Möller, University of Gothenburg)



Kierkegaard in Der Römerbrief (Anne Louise Nielsen, University of Basel)






Polyphony of the 19th century in Barth's Römerbrief. Theology interacting with literature in a time of cultural crisis (Katya Tolstaya, Free University of Amsterdam)



Doors and Back Doors to Karl Barth’s Der Römerbrief: Nietzsche and the hermeneutics of suspicion (Carsten Pallesen, UCPH)






From Answers to Questions: Thurneysen and Barth on Dostoyevsky

(Sigurd Baark, UCPH)



Short paper session




October 30, 2021



Literary Receptions of Barth’s Der Römerbrief  (Bent Flemming Nielsen, UCPH)



Short paper session






Theology as communication of crisis and reorientation in the aftermath of WW1. The examples of Karl Barth and Karl Holl (Christine Svinth-Værge Põder, UCPH)



Concluding discussion and coffee