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Research Focus: Shared Sensibilities

Research Focus Shared Sensibiliies

Research Focus Shared Sensibiliies

This summer semester, we want to revisit some hypotheses of our research focus “Poetics and Politics” from back in summer 2017. We want to specify how the poetics of audiovisual constructs of a commonly shared world relate to processes of community-building. Hannah Arendt’s lectures on Kant’s ‘judgment of taste’ [Geschmacksurteil] will serve as a starting point for this venture into the sensus communis. In our view, the dynamics of generating shared sensibilities through media – e.g. in processes of normalizing communitization or tactics of divergent and distinctive community-building – can be discerned in Arendt’s terms. On the one hand, our events will help to work out theoretical hypotheses and implications on the relation of taste and community. On the other hand, specific case studies will examine this relation further by questioning the cultural, institutional, technical and political terms of judgments and communities of taste. We have therefore invited Thomas Bartscherer, Wout Cornelissen, Christian Pischel, Patricia Pisters, D.N. Rodowick, and Thomas Wild as proven experts on Hannah Arendt’s thinking. 

Our goal is to describe the poiesis of film viewing as a model of community-building through the consumption of audiovisual images and to locate the relation of both concepts theoretically. We assume that communities – if not fixated by given identities, origins, or ideologemes – can be defined through sensibilities of a shared world of perception. Furthermore, we pursue the thesis that audiovisual images not simply illustrate or communicate shared sensibilities and the communities of taste in which these sensibilities become feasible. Rather they create, modulate, stabilize, dissipate, and fuse these sensibilities.

A concise example for such permanently ex- and including reconfigurations of particular cultural communities are sub- and pop-cultural fan communities. They will formulate a distinctive judgment of taste – DC or Marvel? Star Wars or Star Trek? Social realism or escapism? – while depending on their re-actualization in practices of using artifacts of culture and media. In this sense, their distinctive power attributes to genealogical processes of branching and differentiation. 

Using the example of genres and modes of the fantastic allows us to examine these two aspects – the distinctive building of communities as well as the genealogies of poetic making – more closely. With regard to the fantastic, it becomes immediately evident how shared worlds of perception cannot be grasped on the level of representation or mere depiction; rather, they can be conceived as specific sensibilities that need to be reconstructed in their historical bifurcations and relations to different media and genres. Against this backdrop, Cinepoetics co-organizes the annual conference of the German “Gesellschaft für Fantastikforschung” at the Institute for Theater Studies/Seminar for Film Studies (FU Berlin) in September 2019. With a focus on the “romantic-fantastic,” romantic ideas, poetics, and images will be discussed in relation to possible genealogies of the fantastic and of speculative fiction.