Workshop "American Media/Knowledge at the Turn of the 20th Century"

Currier & Ives "The Progress of the Century" (1876)
Currier & Ives "The Progress of the Century" (1876)

July 13-14, 2016, John F. Kennedy Institute, Freie Universität Berlin

Session organizers: Martin Lüthe / Alexander Starre

The two-day workshop “American Media/Knowledge at the Turn of the 20th Century” aims to initiate conversations between cultural, literary, and media scholars currently working on projects that address technological and epistemological shifts in U.S. culture. Presentations will focus on the cultural configurations of “discourse network 1900” in North America, as well as on theoretical and methodological issues. Building on Michel Foucault’s claim that “power and knowledge directly imply one another”, we wish to inquire to what extent the same holds true for the interrelation between media and knowledge. In how far did media ecological shifts and changing epistemic practices mutually influence each other within turn-of-the-century American culture? What kinds of traces did technological innovations and new methods of communication leave in literary and artistic works of the period? How did professionalism and managerial capitalism multiply the forms and technologies of communication while fostering an increasingly compartmentalized system of specialized knowledge? By engaging these concerns, we set out to enhance our understanding of the complex histories behind contemporary (self-)descriptions of “media cultures” and “knowledge societies.”



L115, Seminarzentrum

13-14h: Registration, Coffee and Snacks

14:00-14:15h: Introduction

14:15-15:15h: Sebastian M. Herrmann (Leipzig): “Reading With an Index: Power's 'Diagram and Statistical Record' and the Emerging Data Imaginary"

15:15-16:15h: Alexander Starre (JFKI): “The Elements of Epistemic Style: Research Universities, Public Libraries, and the Emerging Literary Professional”

16:15-17:00h: Coffee Break

17:00-18:00h: John Durham Peters (Iowa): “The Rise of the Culture of Happy Summary: Changing Strategies of Presentation in American Museums, c. 1880-1930”

18:15-20:00h: Research colloquium (Room 201, JFKI) - Winfried Fluck: "Narratives About America: Changing Images of America in American Studies"

20h: Dinner (Alter Krug)


Room 340, JFK Institute

10:00-11:00h: Ilka Brasch (Hannover): “Presentational Storytelling and Cinematic Literacy in Film Serials of the Silent and Sound Eras”

11:00-12:00h: Mark Goble (Berkeley): “The Birth of Cinema, in Slow Motion”

12:00-13:00h: Lunch

13:00-14:00h: Martin Lüthe (JFKI): “Wire Writings: The Telephonic Conversation in the Culture of the Progressive Era”

14:00-15:00h: Katherine Stubbs (Colby College): “The Circuit and the Circulation of Affect: Sympathy and the Telegraph”