A Cosmopolitan Culture in Copenhagen: The German Circle 1750-1770

Navn på bevillingshaver

Anna Sandberg


University of Copenhagen


DKK 740,336




Monograph Fellowships


The project is a transnational investigation of the "German Circle" in Copenhagen (1750-1770) and its foundation of a modern European culture. The German Circle was the centre of the Danish-German cosmopolitan cultural milieu in Enlightenment Copenhagen which was the result of the activist cultural politics of J.H.E. Bernstorff and Frederik V. With literary works, letters and journals the circle took part in a European circulation of knowledge articulating and performing an aesthetic modernity with implications for the human self-understanding and autonomy in the process of Enlightenment. The investigation will place its focus upon the relations and the cultural transfers between Copenhagen and the important European centres around 1750: Leipzig, Zürich, Hamburg and the Danish Altona.


The project opens up for new understandings of the Danish composite state and of the role of the citizen between patria and Europe: between a patriot and a cosmopolitan orientation. The cultural connections across states and languages created an awareness in the Copenhagen cultural elite of belonging to a European intellectual community of intellectuals, the "republic of letters". The project will show the entanglements of culture, politics and state power. It will examine a period of the Danish-German co-existence prior to the formation and concept of national citizenship. The ambition is to present the history of a pluricultural and European mindset and practice in Copenhagen in the 18th century and present an alternative to the dominant history writing with the national state of 1864 as telos.


I will examine and analyze the relevant primary sources accessible through the Copenhagen University Library as well as the sources in Danish and German archives. The writing of the book will take place in Copenhagen with research stays in Kiel (Christian Albrechts- Universität) and in Berlin (Nordeuropa-Institut Humboldt Universität and at the University of Potsdam).

Tilbage til oversigtssiden