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Historical Phenomenology

Research Focus: Historical Phenomenology

Research Focus: Historical Phenomenology

After three semesters of looking into the medial premises and sociological dynamics of audiovisual cultures, our research focus of the winter term of 2023/24 will be on their historiographical implications. With this shift we take up discussions of previous semesters on topics such as the Cinematic Image and Historical Experience, as well as Material and Method. The notion of a historical phenomenology aims at the historicity of concrete forms of appearance and perception: To what extent can we think of audiovisual images as themselves bringing forth the public spheres in which they emerge by shaping the possibilities of communal experience at a given point in time and space? What relevancy can be accorded to the media dispositives and technical arrangements of those public spheres with regard to the differentiation of various domains of experience? Against this background, how can processes of adaptation and appropriation in audiovisual culture(s) be analysed from a historical point of view?

Examining these questions, we assume that the historicity of audiovisual images is to be situated in the dynamic intersection of shared concepts of reality and cultural processes of commonality, rather than in the representation of historical circumstances. Therefore, the specific experiential dimension of the historical cannot be reduced to a seemingly secured knowledge of empirically deductible contexts. It is, according to our hypothesis, to be reconstructed within the aesthetical mode of experience itself: As an equally complex and concrete, deep-level field of reference of image spaces and temporal forms of audiovisual movement-images. The historicity of audiovisual images in this perspective appears as an ever specifically constituted space of experience, in which various temporal modalities of audiovisual culture enter a relation with one-another and become tangible as a historical configuration.

Thus, the point of interest does not (only) refer to the relevance of audiovisual images as historical source material, which may then be connected to a particular (political, sociological, etc.) history. Rather, the question is how these images as genealogical intersections correspond to a history of the shared sensibilities of cultural communities. With regard to these temporal correlations, the question of the discursivity of cinematic images is inseparably connected to a historical phenomenology of audiovisual cultures.

With these questions in mind, we put special emphasis on the following areas:

-       The present’s own historicity within popular culture

-       The phenomenological processes of (counter-)archival practices

-       Siegfried Kracauer’s theory of history and media

-       The mediated memory of migration experiences