Lise Meitner Visiting Fellow
(August 2009 – July 2011)
The Phantasmagoria as a Focus of Modernity:
On Genealogy and Function of a Philosophical Concept
The notion of phantasmagoria emerged in late 18th century Paris describing performances of the laterna magica. Karl Marx and Walter Benjamin both made use of this notion in their theories. The former used the term alternatively to “fetish” when speaking of commodity. Benjamin saw in “phantasmagoria” a phenomenon where social perception and aestheticis met under conditions of modernity. Using these impulses my project investigates the phantasmagoria both as a historical as well as a systematic category at the interface of aesthetics, economics, technology, and politics. The phantasmagoria is explored in its potential to illustrate and understand the specifically modern dialectics of enchantment and disenchantment.