School of Art, Media, and Technology

A Critical Dialogue on Media and Materiality

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This Society of Fellows talk, organized by Brian Goldstone and Grant Wythoff, addresses the topic of materiality in a dsicussion between Bernard Siegert, Gerd Bucerius Professor of History and Theory of Cultural Techniques, Bauhaus-University Weimar, and Ben Kafka, Associate Professor, Departments of Media, Culture, and Communication and History at New York University. The title of the talk is “A Critical Dialogue on Media and Materiality.”

The event is open to the public. Seating is first come, first served.

Bernhard Siegert + Ben Kafka
Friday March 14, 12-2:00
Heyman Center for the Humanities
Columbia University

Come join us for a transatlantic dialogue with Bernhard Siegert (IKKM Weimar) and Ben Kafka (NYU). Using Latour’s essay “Has Critique Run Out of Steam” as a starting point, Siegert and Kafka will discuss their respective work and its relation to things, media, cultural techniques, and our experience of the material world. This promises to be an open and wide-ranging discussion bridging the American and German traditions of media theory. All are welcome to attend!

For directions to the Heyman Center, please visit

Bernhard Siegert is the Professor for Theory and History of Cultural Techniques at the department for Media Studies at the Bauhaus University Weimar, and since 2008 one of the two directors of the International Research Center for Cultural Techniques and Media Philosophy at Weimar. He has been Visiting Professor in Vienna and at the University of California at Santa Barbara. His current research focuses on the cultural history and theory of the ship and the ocean, the genesis of representation, and operative ontologies. His recent books are: Passage des Digitalen. Zeichenpraktiken der neuzeitlichen Wissenschaften 1500 – 1900 (Berlin: Brinkmann & Bose, 2003); Passagiere und Papiere. Schreibakte auf der Schwelle zwischen Spanien und Amerika (Munich-Zurich: Fink & NZZlibro 2006). A collection of 10 essays on Cultural Techniques is forthcoming from Fordham University Press (in English). He is also the coeditor of the journal Zeitschrift für Medien- und Kulturforschung and of the year-book Archiv für Mediengeschichte.

Ben Kafka is an associate professor of media theory and history at NYU and a candidate psychoanalyst at the Institute for Psychoanalytic Training and Research (IPTAR-IPA). His first book, The Demon of Writing: Powers and Failures of Paperwork (Zone Books, 2012; French translation, Le démon de l’écriture, Éditions Zones Sensibles, 2013) investigates the historical, material, and unconscious origins of our conflicts with bureaucracy. He is currently working on a new project about forms of magical thinking under late capitalism and co-directing NYU’s Interdisciplinary Freud Studies Group. He sees adult and adolescent patients at the IPTAR Clinical Center.

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