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Annual Johannes Sløk Lecture

About the Sløk Lecture

Johannes Sløk (1916-2001) founded the Department for the History of Ideas at Aarhus University in 1967, and served as professor at that department until 1974. His intellectual horizon and research interests were wide ranging, but much of his work is dedicated to Kierkegaard, existentialism, absurdity, ancient philosophy, the renaissance, and Christianity. In honour of Sløk’s significance for Danish research in intellectual history, The Annual Johannes Sløk Lecture was inaugurated in 2006.

The honour of giving the Annual Johannes Sløk Lecture is given to an internationally recognized and distinguished researcher, who has made outstanding contributions in history of ideas within an area that, in a broad sense, was or would have been of interest to Johannes Sløk.


Past Sløk Lecturers

  • 2006: Manfred Frank, Universität Tübingen
  • 2007: Quintin Skinner, Cambridge University
  • 2010: Jonathan Israel, Princeton University
  • 2011: Martin Jay, UC Berkeley
  • 2012: Trond Berg Eriksen, Oslo University
  • 2014: Anthony Grafton, Princeton University
  • 2015: Anthony Pagden, UCLA
  • 2018: Hans-Jørgen Schanz, Aarhus University

Sløk Lecture 2019

Annabel Brett, University of Cambridge

May 23, 2PM-4PM, Building 1441, Auditorium 3


‘Meaning in context’ is the catchphrase for a certain understanding of how to write the history of political thought. The temporal and local restriction of meaning it has been taken to imply has come under sustained attack, both in principle and especially, now, in the context (sic) of writing a global history of political thought. In this lecture Annabel Brett revisits contextualist methodology through the lens of translation, a practice that has been central to the history of political thought and yet one that seems to sit uneasily with a strict idea of situated meaning. This lecture draws on postcolonial translation theory, European understandings of translation both past and present, and Brett’s own experience of translating to explore the continuing dilemmas of power, violence and ethics in interpretation.

She concludes with an argument for a strong sense of translation as a practice of history in its own right, and reflects upon what this means for the self-understanding of the historian of political thought.