Research into the cultural aspect of art history, visual culture studies and image studies has revealed the reciprocal link between visual perception and pictorial artefacts. The investigation of significant differences in the way images are created has led to an understanding of how different cultures exist in space and time, each of them with its own collectively binding ideas and aims as well as perspectives and forms of communication with respect to visual works. Following on from this, the research focus on historical image cultures looks at why image cultures are different from each other, and why they change and vanish. What are the conditions that govern these processes? A particular aim is to identify the significance of underlying economies, local traditions and social practices in determining the form of visual works and how they are perceived. Moreover, there is an emphasis on interdependencies and processes of exchange between geographically adjacent image cultures. Special attention is paid not only to the symbolic and materially productive adaptation effects but also to the communicative challenges posed by the transfer of images.

Access to one of Europe’s largest libraries of old books in conjunction with the modern specialist library for the humanities connected to it means that the working conditions for this project are ideal. Moreover, the library has particularly comprehensive holdings of graphic works, portraits and maps and leaflets from the 15th to 19th centuries, which provide in-depth insights into European visual history.

The research focus on historical image cultures sets out to expand the existing opportunities for research at the Herzog August Bibliothek and identify specific subjects for research. Suitable young scholars will be able to find support when applying for project funding and grants from sources of external funding.

In the first phase the focus is on how image cultures are intermeshed both in terms of geography and people and on the conflicts that result from this.


Calendar of events

24 November 2021, Herzog August Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel
‘Ecological image culture: Visualisation at the intersection of everyday heuristics and scholarly order’. Talk by Prof. Astrid Schwarz (BTU Cottbus) within the framework of the research colloquium.

22–24 September 2021, Herzog August Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel
International conference ‘Image tactics: Visual subversion between art and resistance’.

The conference is sponsored by the Fritz Thyssen Stiftung. Due to the current pandemic containment measures, participants will only be able to access the conference online. Anybody interested should get in touch with ed.ba1720793525h@rel1720793525sseor1720793525.eloh1720793525. You can find the provisional programme, an overview of its content and the subject-specific bibliography on the right-hand side in the ‘Download’ section.

21 April – 14 July 2020, online lecture series ‘Image Cultures of the Other’ in cooperation with HBK Braunschweig.
Further information, the online lectures and the complete programme for the lecture series can be found here and on the right-hand side in the ‘Download’ section.

15–16 November 2019, Herzog August Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel
Kick-off meeting between the cooperation partners of the FSP ‘Historical Image Cultures’
The event was sponsored by the Gesellschaft der Freunde der Herzog August Bibliothek.


Cooperation partners


  • Dr Wolfgang Brückle, Lucerne School of Art and Design
  • Dr Robert Felfe, University of Graz, Centre for Cultural Studies
  • Victoria von Flemming, Hochschule für Bildende Künste Braunschweig, Institut für Kunstwissenschaft (Braunschweig University of Art, Institute for Art Theory)
  • Jürgen Müller, TU Dresden, Fachbereich Kunstgeschichte (Art History Department)
  • Dr Thomas Rahn, critical complete edition of the works of Walter Benjamin
  • Anna Schreurs-Morét, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg, Kunstgeschichtliches Institut (Department of Art History)
  • Michael Thimann, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Kunstgeschichtliches Seminar (Seminar of Art History)
  • Claus Zittel, Universität Stuttgart, Institut für Literaturwissenschaft / Stuttgart Research Centre for Text Studies


Associate researchers



Financing: Budget
Duration: July 2019 – ongoing
Head: Dr Hole Rößler
Contact: ed.ba1720793525h@ner1720793525utluk1720793525dlib1720793525

Image credit: Christoph Daniel Henning after Johann Samuel Vigitill, etching, second half of the 18th century, Herzog August Bibliothek: Graph. A1: 1012