I am a DPhil student in German Literature (Balliol College). Before coming to Oxford, I completed a Bachelor of Arts in German Literature and Philosophy at Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich (2020), funded by the National German Scholarship programme. Subsequently, I obtained a Master of Studies in Modern Languages in the European Enlightenment programme at the University of Oxford (2021), funded by the Lidl Graduate Modern Languages Scholarship of the University of Oxford.
My DPhil thesis, funded by the Balliol College Scholarship, aims to re-examine and re-evaluate the notion of moral progress in the mid to late German Enlightenment (ca. 1749-1798). It is commonly thought that the period brought forth a new form of thinking about (unlimited, linear) progress, yet that very notion has been the subject to increasing critique in recent times, especially from the perspective of feminist and postcolonial theory. These contemporary debates motivate me to look more closely at the major discourses on progress in the Enlightenment to ask to what extent such (self-)criticism was already a key component of these historical debates. I aim to show where and how Enlightenment thinkers provided discursive tools to criticise the supposed one-sidedness of Enlightenment conceptions of moral progress, offering a form of self-reflexivity without which ‘true’ progress would be impossible.