Duration of fellowship
01. March 2020 bis 30. June 2020

Transformation of Rhetorical Strategies in European Conversation


The way in which informal talks in the public sphere have been conducted by representatives of educated classes in European cultures is related to rhetorical strategies, and that not only in the Renaissance. Until the twentieth century, letters, memoirs, and diaries, as well as literary works, testify to changing notions of conversation. For centuries, both recommending and banning repetition, euphemisms, or abrupt changes of subject, allowing or tabooing associative chitchat and small talk, have determined the face of European conversation and regulated (as indexes of social appropriateness) the process of civilization.

This project’s aim is to explore historically such communication strategies in various sub-genres of convivial conversation and to show when and where they became accepted as communicative habits. In addition, the project will examine how these strategies spread internationally through the translation of discursive texts and literary works.


Adam Bžoch studied German studies in Leipzig. Since 1990, he has worked as a literary scholar and cultural historian at the Slovak Academy of Sciences, while also teaching German and Dutch literature at the University in Ružomberok (Slovakia). He is active as a literary translator from the German and the Dutch (nearly seventy titles). His research interests include the comparative social history of conversation, cultural transfer of the artistic avant-garde, historiographies of modernity, and the history of psychoanalysis in eastern Europe.


(Hg.), „Johan Huizinga and Central/East-Central Europe“, in: World Literature Studies 9, Heft 1, 2017; „The Concept of Conversation in Desiderius Erasmus“, in: Kultúrne dejiny 6, Heft 2, 2015, S. 196–223; Psychoanalyse in der Slowakei. Eine Geschichte von Enthusiasmus und Widerstand, Gießen 2013.

29 June 2020
  • Lecture

Reden ist Silber – Konversationskultur im niederländischen Goldenen Zeitalter

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Die unbändige Geselligkeit, wie wir sie aus der holländischen Genremalerei des 17. Jahrhunderts kennen, drückt nur eine – wiewohl wichtige – Seite der Konversationskultur im niederländischen Goldenen Zeitalter aus. Adam Bžoch spricht darüber, wie in der Republik der Sieben Vereinigten Provinzen das Idealbild und der Alltag der Konversation aussahen.