Graduate School of the Arts and Humanities Blog

Titelbild TransHumanities 2020

Abstract Michael Hagner

bild_hagner_300x332 In media studies it is often argued that the emergence of new media inevitably leads to anxieties among devotees of old media who suspect that these media become irrelevant: photography menaces painting, film executes photography, tv menaces film, and the Internet finishes everything else. The printed book is no exception from this logic. Long before the invention of ebooks and Open access, various prophets predicted the decline of the Gutenberg Galaxis. Even without subscribing to such apocalyptic visions, we can not overlook the fact that the humanistic book has come under pressure. Being the unquestioned and primordial scientific medium in the 20th century, an assembly of habituations and practices has shifted within a few years. That implies institutions of advanced studies, publishers, research communities and the scholars themselves. The question, thus, is:  Which role will the printed book play within and without the humanities?

I shall present my considerations in three points. First, each phase of complex cultural shift leads to metaphysical desorientation and turmoil embodied either as a pessimistic expectation for the future or as an optimistic hope for redemption. The second aspect deals with what I call Überforschung, that is, at least in the German-speaking world the humanities have expanded so heavily in the last 25 or so years that we are suffering from this abundance of money, resources and scholars (I am aware that this is certainly not true with respect to Britain and the US). Thirdly, I will discuss the possibilities and limitations of Open Access, which has a strong impact on the production and publication of printed books.

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