Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Cultures Of Communication: Theologies Of Media In Early Modern Europe And Beyond
A program at the UCLA Center for Seventeenth- & Eighteenth-Century Studies
Directed by: Christopher Wild (UCLA) & Ulrike Strasser (UC Irvine)

Our program re-approaches the history of media in early modern Europe from an original and particularly timely perspective. It resists the technological focus and teleological pull of the Gutenberg galaxy that has long dominated scholarly investigations and concentrates instead on the multimediality of early modern cultures as well as the powerful religious and theological currents informing its communication and media. We suggest that the history of media in early modern Europe is best understood in its longue duree from the sixteenth through the eighteenth century and in reference to the long-term aftershocks of the Reformation and the profound transformation of both media and mediation the Reformation set in motion. The sixteenth-century reformers not only revolutionized the use of media, as has been noted before, but rather the Reformation itself arguably represents an early modern instantiation of media theory. Each camp developed theories and practices of optimizing ‘vertical communication’ with the divine and ‘horizontal communication’ among humanity. Consequently, the recourse to the different theologies of early modern reform can help us examine the complex and competing media cultures of the time. The transformation of media had a persistent corollary in the critique of mediation. Once unleashed, this critique would not go away, but would be reformulated throughout the early modern period and beyond, and in a host of contexts within and beyond the religious domain.

Against this backdrop, our conference cycle takes as its starting point the conjunction of Reformation theology and the rise of new media in the sixteenth century to then trace the ripple effects of these phenomena in the following centuries. It will feature programs on Theology as Media Theory, Media of Reform: Between the Local and the Global, Multimediality: Print Culture in Context, and Religious Media and the Birth of Aesthetics.

Scholars who have received a Ph.D. in the last six years and are engaged in research pertaining to the announced theme are eligible to apply. Fellows are expected to make a substantive contribution to the Center's workshops and seminars. Awards are for one full academic year in residence at the Clark.

Stipend: $37,500 for the academic year.

Application and Instructions here.