CCS Director Philip Smith has been awarded the Fellowship of the University of Bayreuth Centre of International Excellence “Alexander von Humboldt” for the project, “Wagner, Bayreuth and the Negotiation of Sacred Meaning.” This project is hosted by and in collaboration with Dr. Florian Stoll, Department of Sociology, University of Bayreuth, Germany.
“Using the perspective of cultural sociology this mixed-method project examines the personal and public meanings attached to Richard Wagner, his operatic works and the Bayreuth Wagner Festival. These are characterized by complexity and unease. On the one hand Wagner’s music is associated with humanism and feelings of spiritual and aesthetic transcendence. On the other hand there is the taint of Wagner’s antisemitism, the festival’s profound connections to National Socialism, and social exclusivity. Topics of the research include the experience of the festival and music, the relation between aesthetics and morals, and the pragmatics of seeking deep experiences.”