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What the D does to History - The Digital Age as a New Temporal Regime?
October 28, 2021
Andreas FICKERS (Luxembourg Centre for Contemporary and Digital History)
moderated by Harald KÜMMERLE (DIJ)
A video recording of this event is available on the DIJ YouTube channel
What does the “D” do to history? In its directness and superficial simplicity, this question conceals a complexity whose complexities and ramifications continue to concern me to this day. Accordingly, what is presented in this lecture reflects a time- and place-bound insight into a thought process that is characterised by cautious “heuristic groping” and feels obliged to the Serresian analogy of the “randonneur”: “strike out sideways” – “déboruillez-vous”, is Michel Serres’ advice in “The Five Senses. A Philosophy of Mixtures and Mixtures”.
Indeed, approaching the digital as a capital “D” feels like the exodus of Ulysses described by Serres, that journey characterised by deviations, fluctuations and dispersions rather than Cartesian linearity. The semantics of the term “randonnée”, which in French “courir à randon” means the pursuit of game and the reading of tracks, but in English as “random” retains the memory of the irregular, unforeseen escape route of the game, expresses precisely that feeling of ambivalence that creeps over me when trying to “grasp” the multiple “interferences” of the digital in the practice of historical work.
It is precisely at this interface between theory and practice, conceptual penetration and methodological reflection of historical scholarship in the digital age that my reflections on a digital hermeneutics and the digital age as new temporal are located. The tensions between a discipline based on 19th century methodological foundations and the radically changing knowledge economy of the 21st century forces us to rethink and adapt central concepts and practices of thinking and doing history – including the question of the temporal regime of the digital which is at the heart of this lecture.
Andreas Fickers is the director of the Luxembourg Centre for Contemporary and Digital History (C²DH), the third Interdisciplinary Centre of the University of Luxembourg and head of the FNR funded Doctoral Training Unit ‘Digital History & Hermeneutics’ (DTU) and coordinates the Trinational doctoral school together with Prof. Dr Dietmar Hüser (Universität des Saarlandes) and Prof. Dr Hélène Miard-Delacroix (Université Paris-Sorbonne). He is also prinicipal investigator of the Impresso project and was co-editor of VIEW, the Journal of European Television History and Culture. He’s currently the Luxembourg national coordinator of DARIAH-EU and member of the joint research board of Humanities in the European Research Area (HERA). He studied history, philosophy and sociology and is currently Professor for Contemporary and Digital History at the University of Luxembourg. He took his PhD in 2002 at RTWH Aachen University and worked as Assistant Professor for television history at Utrecht University (2003-2007) and Associate Professor for comparative media history at Maastricht University (2007-2013). His research focuses on European history of technology (mainly communication technologies), transnational and intermedial media history, experimental media archaeology, digital history and hermeneutics, and transmedia storytelling in history. Current research projects include “Popular Culture Transnational in the Long Sixties” (https://popkult60.eu), “Doing Experimental Media Archaeology” (https://dema.uni.lu), and the Doctoral Training Unit on “Digital History and Hermeneutics” (https://dhh.uni.lu). He is editor-in-chief of the multilayered Journal of Digital History (https://journalofdigitalhistory.org) and co-author of Communicating Europe: Technologies, Information, Events (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2019).
This event is part of the MWS Web Forum Series on The Digital Transformation.