Religious and political communication is unthinkable without media. That is not just true for modern, mass-media cultures, but also for the ‘media cultures’ of the ancient and medieval periods. The Cluster of Excellence, “Religion and Politics in Pre-Modern and Modern Cultures’ at the University of Münster, Germany, invites interested parties from the humanities and social sciences to a bilingual conference (11-13 November 2010) addressing the question of how media not only record and transmit, but, through their use, also constitute historically specific structures of knowledge and conceptions of religion and politics in pre-modern and modern societies. To what extent do media discipline our conceptions of reality?
Theoretical work in media and communication studies has repeatedly been confronted with the possible extent to which new technologies, such as film, radio, television, internet, and the e-book reader, create new strategies of perception or change old ones, but so far the focus has been on the study of very recent phenomena, often of a technological nature. The interdisciplinary conference will extend the scope of research in two respects. First, it will broaden its frame of reference to include Antiquity and the Middle Ages as well as modernity and examine to what extent the disciplining of perception might be a historical constant in the development of media. Does the introduction of the e-book, say, make demands on its users comparable to the invention of printing? Do current developments in on-demand television imply processes of disengagement similar to medieval shifts from memory to written record? Second, to what extent do media, old and new, discipline perception by opening up and/or closing off areas of expression, and do the processes, mechanisms and internal logic of the media lead to the success of certain ideas of society, culture, politics, and religion? How does the sacralisation of writing in the form of scripture affect the creation and harmonisation of religious beliefs? How do the media help expand, limit and canonise knowledge?
Among the desired outcomes of the conference would be an interdisciplinary definition of ‘media’ that could be made specific to historical time periods and thus facilitate the intellectual co-operation of historians and media theorists.
Keynote speakers will include Prof. Siegfried J. Schmidt (Communication Studies, Münster) and Dr. Jens Jaeger (Modern History, Cologne).
We request the submission of abstracts (up to 400 words) for papers in either English or German by 18 April 2010.
Exzellenzcluster "Religion und Politik"
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