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Rolf Goebel

Auditory Atmospheres: Music, Media Technologies, and Literary Representation (12.01.2021)

What is the status of the literary representation of music in the age of media-technological reproducibility? In our digital age, computers and earphones allow the listener to experience the bodily affective immersion in a seemingly limitless cyberspace of music files, whose aura they can project back onto their surroundings, transforming reality into resonant projection screens of their own fantasies, desires, and aesthetic sentiments. The possibilities and limitations of these digitally mediated atmospheres open up a new understanding of the literary representation of musical experiences by high-modernist writers.

A  comparison between Thomas Mann's description of the production of musical entrancement by the fashionable gramophone in Der Zauberberg and Georg Trakl's poetic exploration of the Orpheus myth in "Passion" reveals a hidden conflict in early 20th century culture between state-of-the-art media-technological reproducibility and a seemingly anachronistic exploration of "live" or "real-time" musical atmospheres whose immersive affect and hermeneutic meanings exceed  the acoustic data storage capacities of technological media while allowing themselves to be represented authentically by the literary imagination. Theoretical work on technological media (W. Benjamin and F. Kittler), the phenomenology of atmospheres (H. Schmitz, G. Böhme, T.  Griffero) and sonic resonances (H. Rosa) will be brought together to explore this largely uncharted territory encompassing sound studies, philosophy, and literary criticism.


// Prof. Dr. Rolf Goebel (University of Alabama in Huntsville, USA)

Rolf Goebel is an emeritus professor at the Department of World Languages and Cultures

 Click here for further information on research interests and publications.


// Respondant: Prof. Dr. Britta Herrmann (University of Münster)

Britta Herrmann is a professor for Modern German Literature and spokesperson for the Graduate School Practices of Literature

Click here for further information on research interests and publications.



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