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Ergebnisanzeige "Demonic Technologies: Walter Benjamin and the Return of Religion in the Study of Technology"
RessourcentypKonferenzen, Tagungen, Kolloquien
TitelDemonic Technologies: Walter Benjamin and the Return of Religion in the Study of Technology
Beschreibung"Demonic Technologies: Walter Benjamin and the Return of Religion in the Study of Technology"
Workshop (27-28 April, 2012)

Mahindra Humanities Center at Harvard University
Barker Center | Room 133 (April 27), Room 114 (April 28)
12 Quincy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138

This workshop aims at examining Walter Benjamin’s theoretical reflections on the relationship between religion and technology and assessing the actuality of his concepts for the current study of technology. It will bring together scholars from both sides of the Atlantic, and from various disciplines, to pursue the question of whether historical notions of religion can be analyzed through the discourses of technology – and vice versa.

Although Benjamin’s works are central to this discussion, the workshop is not exclusively dedicated to their interpretation. Scholars from various fields are invited to critically examine together his historical and theoretical assumptions, their potential and limits, against the background of the current “religious turn” in the humanities.

Benjamin’s writings represent the ideal locus in which to address these questions. Examining his theory necessitates consideration of the historical context of his works. For philosophers, sociologists, and historians of culture such as Karl Marx, Max Weber, and Aby Warburg, the development of new technologies marks the end of religion. According to their idea of secularization, the disenchantments of religion and the emergence of new, fetishized cult objects within capitalism go hand in hand. However, what is missing in their theories is a clear understanding of the process of secularization and its consequences in modern society, which could mean the disappearance of religion or its transformation.

Contrary to his contemporaries, Benjamin understood religion and technology as two equally powerful forces in modern life. He does not presume that religion comes to an end in the technological age. In fact, his analysis of the relationship between religion and technology goes beyond the narrative of secularization, which dominated social thought in the decades around 1900.

His interest lies in understanding the interferences and tensions between religion and technology: religion has to be understood through technology and vice versa. Therefore his texts describe modern life as an ambiguous space where religion(s) and technology meet, where they include and exclude, change and define, complement and compete with each other.

On the threshold between the spheres of the sacred and the profane, these two forces together initiate what Benjamin calls a “reform of being” (Reform des Seins) – a semiotic process ascribing new meanings to material and living objects and to social and political structures.

The title of the workshop addresses the ambiguous nature of this process, referring to Benjamin’s own use of the word “demonic” for hybrid objects and mixed relationships eluding clear categories. The following sample questions represent tentative ideas of how to address the “demonic” dimension of religion and technology.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Welcome & Introduction

Adelheid Voskuhl (Harvard University) : Grasping Machines: Benjamin, Metaphysics, and Religion in the History and Philosophy of Technology during the Second Industrial Revolution, 1890-1940

Andreas Wolfsteiner (Free University Berlin): “Objectives Strange to Nature“. Elements of Negative Mediality in Benjamin's Thoughts on Technology

Saturday, 28th April 2012

Christoph Wulf (Free University Berlin): Hazardous Future

Hent de Vries (Johns Hopkins University): The Miracle of the Dancing Ball: Walter Benjamin, Mechanical Mysticism, and the Apocalyptic Epistemology Of Changing Everything, All At Once

Coffee Break

Howard J. Caygill (Kingston University London): Benjamin's Cosmos: Between Schreber and Eddington

Uwe Steiner (Rice University): From Cult to Politics: Benjamin’s “Idea of Life and Afterlife in Works of Art“ Reconsidered


Michael W. Jennings (Princeton University): The Will to Apokatastasis: Jewish Esotericism and Christian Patristics in Benjamin's Late Theological Politics

Howard Eiland (MIT): Technique of Nearness

Coffee Break

Tobias Wilke (Columbia University): Aura as Medium: Photographic Spirit(s) in Benjamin

Markus Rautzenberg (Free University Berlin): Spellbound: Images as Materia Magica

Concluding Discussion

Further Information:

The workshop is made possible by the generous support of the Volkswagen Foundation.

Prof. Kyung-Ho Cha (Universitaet Bayreuth/ Harvard University)

Quelle der BeschreibungInformation des Anbieters
Verknüpfte Ressource
PersonName: Kyung-Ho Cha 
Funktion: Veranstalter 
KontaktdatenName/Institution: Neuere deutsche Literaturwissenschaft 
Strasse/Postfach: Universitätsstraße 30 
Postleitzahl: 95447  
Stadt: Bayreuth  
LandVereinigte Staaten von Amerika
SchlüsselbegriffeLiteraturwissenschaft; Historische Semantik (Wissensgeschichte, Mentalitätsgeschichte, Ideengeschichte); Komparatistik (Kulturvergleich, Interkulturelle Literaturwissenschaft); Literatur 1880 - 1945; Literatur- u. Kulturgeschichte; Literaturtheorie: Themen; Medien- u. Kommunikationsgeschichte (Hand-, Druckschrift, Film, Rundfunk, Computerspiel usw.); Medien- u. Kommunikationstheorie
Klassifikation01.00.00 Allgemeine deutsche Sprach- und Literaturwissenschaft; 03.00.00 Literaturwissenschaft; 05.00.00 Deutsche Literaturgeschichte; 16.00.00 Jahrhundertwende (1880-1914); 17.00.00 20. Jahrhundert (1914-1945)
Ediert von  H-Germanistik
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