Cite as: Q&A of the discussion Marisa Galvez, Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht, Fred Turner, Sigrid Weigel, and Wolfgang Hagen, Against Presentism, ICI Berlin, 26 June 2019, video recording, mp4, 20:09 <>
26 Jun 2019


Video in English

Format: mp4
Length: 00:20:09
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Part of the Discussion

Against Presentism / Marisa Galvez, Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht, Fred Turner, Sigrid Weigel, Wolfgang Hagen

Thinking about technological changes or ‘revolutions’ is often marked by a presentist, ahistorical mode of thinking and debate. The tropes mobilized in contemporary discussion about ‘digitalization’ and its technologies are usually technicist, innovation- or even disruption-oriented, both in their affirmative and in their critical guises. Little attention is given to historical precursors of technologically driven social change and almost none to concepts and theories from other historical periods that might help investigate and understand the current predicament.
Is the presentism of ‘digital cultures’ in itself a media-technological effect? To what extent are these cultures characterized by a fundamental restructuring of modern semantics and experiences of time? In particular, do they eliminate the ‘surplus and surprise potential’, that is, the eminent reference to an open future Koselleck found to be essential for modern historical thought? The aim is to discuss what this entails for the humanities as an eminently historical cluster of disciplines in terms of epistemology and science policy.

Marisa Galvez is Professor of French, Italian, and German Studies at Stanford University

Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht is Professor emeritus of Comparative Literature, German Studies, and Iberian and Latin American Cultures at Stanford University

Fred Turner is Professor of Communication at Stanford University

Sigrid Weigel is Professor emeritus of Literature and Cultural Science and former director of the Leibniz-Zentrum für Literatur- und Kulturforschung Berlin

Wolfgang Hagen is Professor of Media Studies at Leuphana University and former programme director for culture and music at DeutschlandRadio Berlin


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