Speakers' Corner

Does everything stay the same? Old texts, new contexts

Does everything stay the same? This is the question asked by the project Speaker’s Corner, which puts socio-historical texts from the Middle Age to the 20th century into relation with current contexts. In a first test run in the summer of 2013, two actors recited historical texts from 14th-century Byzantium to the Jewish Central Europe of the Enlightenment to the Germany of the global economic crisis in the early 1930s at public locations in Frankfurt, Göttingen, and Berlin. In this context, the parallelism of societal questions that have occupied us back then and still do today is striking: obligations and rights of civil servants, the dignity of the fellow citizen and his/her right to self-fulfillment, tax evasion, surveillance by the state, protection against terrorism, social and psychological consequences of unemployment.


According to the model of the Speakers’ Corner in London’s Hyde Park, where, following a parliamentary decision from 1872, everybody can hold a speech on any topic to attract public interest, the Junge Akademie is present in the public space with its programme Speakers’ Corner – on markets, in pedestrian areas and other public locations in the urban space. Furthermore, the utilisation of Speakers’ Corners that have been created in various German cities in the past years is planned for the future. On the one hand, the project is designed to make people aware of the timeliness of historical texts and thus to underline the relevance of the humanities in an increasingly technologised, output- and market-oriented society. On the other hand, the publicly recited texts are supposed to stimulate the critical reflection and discussion of current socio-political issues.

Idea for the project:

Rebekka Voß is junior professor for Jewish studies at Goethe University, Frankfurt.

Katharina Heyden is private lecturer (Privatdozentin) for church history at the University of Göttingen.

Marc Helbling is political scientist and head of an Emmy-Noether junior research group at the WZB Social Science Center (Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung).


Nina-Maria Knohl studied theatre, film and media sciences in Vienna. She worked as a dramaturge at the Salzburg Festival and at the Schauspielhaus Zurich. Furthermore, she worked as research fellow under Alexander Kluge.


Anna Theresa Döing studied drama at the Folkwang University in Bochum. She has also worked at the Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus, the Grillo Theatre in Essen, and the Schauspielhaus in Bochum.

Florian Reiners studied acting at the Max Reinhardt Seminar in Vienna and the University of Music and Theatre Leipzig (Hochschule für Musik und Theater). Among other things, he worked at the Schauspielhaus Leipzig, the City theatre of Augsburg, and the Schlosspark-Theater Berlin.


Frankfurt (15.08.13), Berlin (17.08.13), Göttingen (24.08.13)

Recited texts:

Thomas Magister, Speculum Principum. Byzantium, 14th century.

Naftali Herz Homberg, Bne-Zion. Ein religiös-moralisches Lehrbuch für die Jugend israelitischer Nation. Chapter 9 „Von den Pflichten des Menschen als Bürger“. Vienna, 1837 Download

Marie Jahoda, Paul Felix Lazarsfeld and Hans Zeisel, Die Arbeitslosen von Marienthal. Ein soziographischer Versuch über die Wirkungen langandauernder Arbeitslosigkeit. Leipzig, 1933.

Galery: Berlin und Frankfurt

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