Anke Finger (Literature, Cultures and Languages Department)
PUBLIC DISCOURSE PROJECT CORE FACULTY FELLOWSHIPS 2015-16
Everyday Modernism: The Senses and Barriers to Public Discourse (multi-media project)
This project adds to a broadened understanding of human communication and public discourse that includes not just linguistic and visual media, but also the body, sensory perception and aisthetics. Specifically, the project investigates a pivotal turning point in media and cultural history by reinvestigating the traditional avant-gardes (Futurism, Dadaism, Surrealism) on the basis of the ‘ordinary’ or the ‘everyday’. Based on the scholarship of Madalina Diaconu, Yuriko Saito, Caroline Jones, Cecilia Novero, and others, the purpose is to uncover an everyday aisthetic within avant-garde movements and to expose and examine those senses, those modes and media of perception that, in a long aesthetic and philosophical tradition, have been marginalized: the senses of taste, touch and smell.
The emphasis lies in an intersensory and interarts approach to the avant-gardes and their media. Ultimately, the focus on taste, touch and smell will show that the avant-gardes sought to rupture a Western intellectual understanding of perception that was based on the distancing senses of sight and hearing. Their work, in contrast, broke through the barriers of public discourse by perforating the boundaries of sensory perception and the body, pointing to the senses as a communicative system underlying a thin veneer of civil and moral obedience. Today, these historical roots remain significant for our understanding of public discourses marked by the obfuscation of public and private, intellectual and emotional, mind and body, perception and fact – and for our own cognition of how our body and senses interact with the multiplicities that is everyday life.
The final, and continuously evolving, multi-media product also serves as a log for the book project it accompanies.