Modern Cruelty

Monday, 11 February 2019, 4:00pm - 5:30pm, IWM library
This lecture is part of a research project which is focused on discourses on cruelty that means on a form of an organized speech that legitimates cruelty as a positive or at least as an unavoidable element of life and is essential for male identity. It is connected with a ‘realism’ arguing that cruelty is – in contrast to Sigmund Freud´s theory of death drive – a productive and creative phenomenon of culture, society and (everyday) life. One year before the Machtergreifung,” Ernst Jünger, the proponent of the “Conservative Revolution” depicts a political vision of an  inexorable post-bourgeois world, in which fight and war are constitutive pillows of a new civilisation  structured like a modern army. In Jünger’s utopia technique and war fits together on a discourse one could call ‘ethics of cruelty’. It is represented by the modern worker, a male-machine archetype insensitive to suffering and pain.

Wolfgang Müller-Funk was a professor and research coordinator for Cultural Studies at the University of Birmingham/UK and since 2009 at the University of Vienna. He is doing international research and teaching (scholarships). He has supervised national research projects on literature and culture in the Habsburg Empire, on Romanticism in Austria. He was 2nd speaker of the PhD College Cultures of Difference at the University of Vienna (2006-2010). His monographs include: Die Kultur und ihre Narrative (2002/2008), Kulturtheorie (2006/2010), The Architecture of Modern Culture. Towards a Narrative Cultural Theory (2012), Theorien des Fremden (2016) Sigmund Freud, Das Unbehagen in der Kultur (commentary volume 2016). He is co and main-editor of the series Kultur- Herrschaft- Differenz at Francke publishers, Tübingen. Furthermore, he was awardet the Ehrenkreuz der Republik Österreich für Wissenschaft und Kunst in 2013. In February 2019, he is a Guest at the IWM.

Comments by Clemens Ruthner (Trinity College, Dublin)

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