The Czech-Brazilian philosopher Vilem Flusser (1920-1991) has been recognized as a decisive past master in the emergence of contemporary media theory and media archeology. His work engages and also rethinks several mythologies of modernity, devising new methodologies, experimental literary practices, and expanded hermeneutics that trouble traditional practices of literary/literate knowledge, shared experience, reception, and communication.
Working within an expanded concept of modernism, Flusser presciently noted the power inherent in algorithmic information apparatuses to reshape our fundamental conceptions of culture and history. In an increasingly technological world, Flusser's form of experimental theory-fiction pits philosophy against cybernetics as it forces the category of "the human" to confront the inhuman world of animals and machines.
The contributors to Understanding Flusser, Understanding Modernism engage with the multiplicity of Flusser's thought as they provide a general analysis of his work, engage in comparative readings with other philosophers, and offer expanded conceptualizations of modernism. The final section of the volume includes an extended glossary clarifying the playful terminology used by Flusser, which will be a valuable resource for experts and students alike.
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Aaron Jaffe is Frances Cushing Ervin Professor of American Literature at Florida State University, USA. He is the author or editor of six previous books, including The Way Things Go: An Essay on the Matter of Second Modernism (2014).
Michael F. Miller is Visiting Lecturer in the Department of English Language and Culture at the University of Amsterdam, Netherlands. He has published essays on contemporary literature, media theory, digital culture, and politics.
Rodrigo Martini is Lecturer in English at the University of Georgia, USA.
List of Illustrations
Aaron Jaffe, Florida State University, USA, Rodrigo Martini, University of Georgia, USA, Michael F. Miller, University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands
PART I: Processing Flusser
1. Does AI Have a Future?
Rita Raley, University of California, Santa Barbara, USA, and Russell Samolsky, University of California, Santa Barbara, USA
Anke Finger, University of Connecticut, USA
3. Flusser in Open Circuits: The Dialogic Capacity of Video Images
Daniel Irrgang, Weizenbaum-Institute, Berlin, Germany
4. Flusser and Ars Electronica: Between and Beyond Cybernetics
Daniel Raschke, Florida State University, USA
5. Flusser in the Light of Radiation
Clint Wilson III, Rice University, USA
6. Games and Play: On Being Human in the Universe of Technical Images
Nancy Roth, Independent Scholar, USA
7. Flusser's Philosophical Backgrounds
Martha Schwendener, New York University, USA
8. Flusser's Quasi-Phenomenology
Andreas Max Stroehl, Goethe Institute, North America
9. Migrants, Flaneurs, Critics: Flusserian Irony and the Genealogy of Modern Cynicism
Alexander B. Adkins, San Jacinto College, USA
10. Vampyroteuthis infernalis as Media Theory
Geoffrey Winthrop-Young, University of British Columbia, Canada
11. Posthistory Today: Historical Time and Virality after Flusser
Charles M. Tung, Seattle University, USA
PART II: Flusser's Expanded Modernism
Laurence A. Rickels, European Graduate School Saas-Fee, Switzerland
13. An Intersubjective Style
Frances McDonald, University of Louisville, USA
14. "Naked Little Spasms of the Self": In Search of an Authentic Gesture in Posthistorical Times
Dominic Pettman, The New School, USA
15. The 'Pataphysical Span: Jarry and Flusser
Judith Roof, Rice University, USA
16. Flusser's New Weird
Keith Leslie Johnson, The College of William and Mary, USA
17. A Philosophy of Refraction: Flusser's Speculative Biology and the Study of Paramedia
David Bering-Porter, The New School, USA
18. Everything Quantizes
Kate Brideau, New York University, USA
19. Religious Telematics and the Archives of Memory
K. Merinda Simmons, University of Alabama, USA
20. The Challenge of Flusser: Latinidad and Its Others
John Ribo, Florida State University, USA
21. On Synthesis and Synthetic Reality: Post/Modernism in Flusser's Thinking
Rainer Guldin, Universita della Svizzera Italiana, Lugano, Switzerland
22. Fascism, Iconoclasm, and the Global Village
Guy Stevenson, Goldsmiths and Queen Mary Colleges, University of London, UK
23. The Future of Writing
David Golumbia, Virginia Commonwealth University, USA
24. Flusser's Linguistic Briefcase
Tatjana Soldat-Jaffe, Florida State University, USA
25. The Depressed Person and the Vampire Squid: Sonic Gestures in the Work of Flusser and David Foster Wallace
Edward Comentale, Indiana University, USA
26. Cannibalistic Animals: Posthuman Natures in Flusser and Benjamin
Erick Felinto, State University of Rio de Janeiro (UERJ), Brazil
27. Flusser's New World
Aaron Jaffe, Florida State University, USA
PART III: Flusser's Toolkit
Melody Jue, University of California, Santa Barbara, USA
Blake Stricklin, University of Houston, Victoria, USA
Seb Franklin, King's College London, UK
Heather A. Love, University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
32. Dasein's Design
Chris Michaels. Florida State University, USA
Derek Woods, University of British Columbia, Canada
Annie Lowe, Rice University, USA
Andrew Battaglia, Rice University, USA
36. Surface and Simulation
Tom Tooley, Valencia College, USA
37. Technical Image
Anais Nony, University College Cork, Ireland
Andrew Pilsch, Texas A&M University, USA
39. Zetetic Maneuvers: Stalking the Continuum
Adelheid Mers, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, USA
Epilogue: Between Languages and Without Discipline: A 20th Century Intellect Drafted for the 21st
Siegfried Zielinski, European Graduate School Saas-Fee, Switzerland, translated from the German by Daniel Raschke, Florida State University, USA
An extraordinary collection of scholars is here assembled to provide the Jonny-come-lately Anglophone world with a critical resource for our heterochronic times. After the pandemic, what better preparation for the coming storm than this exceptionally lively and brilliantly curated collection of essays and interventions on 'the event of Flusser'-an event whose retrofuturist moment is upon us. Situated at the sweet spot between cybernetics and existentialism, media theory and 'weird' thought, Flusser's migratory work left a thousand tendrils of unfulfilled potential behind; here that mass of theoretic implication begins to twitch, to move, to speak ... It's alive! * Julian Murphet, Jury Chair of English Language and Literature, University of Adelaide, Australia * Vilem Flusser's work becomes more urgent with every new decade we enter in the twenty-first century. This brilliantly constructed volume takes the eclecticism of his oeuvre seriously, and by engaging an outstanding group of his most significant interlocutors as well as emerging voices at the nexus of modernism, media studies, and theory after humanism, Understanding Flusser, Understanding Modernism appears at the moment in which Flusser's prescience is making itself known across disciplines. This is an essential volume for anyone reading Flusser today, which should really be everyone. * Kate Marshall, Associate Professor, University of Notre Dame, USA * An essential guide for both the novice and the expert, this wide-ranging collection traces the uniquely cosmopolitan itinerary of Flusser's life and work, introducing the major concepts while pushing his thought in new directions. As this volume shows, "media theory" is far too tidy a term for this gargantuan thinker, an event called "Flusser" that we're just beginning to process. Flusser hasn't left the building; he hasn't even arrived yet. * Cary Wolfe, Bruce and Elizabeth Dunlevie Professor of English, Rice University, USA *
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