Modernism and the Essence of Technology--MSA 14 (Las Vegas, October 18-21, 2012)

full name / name of organization: 
Heather Fielding
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Heidegger's famous essay "The Question Concerning Technology" begins with the claim that "technology is not equivalent to the essence of technology." In his terms, the essence of technology precedes any particular, historical, concrete manifestation of technology, any particular device and constitutes the "technologicalness" that pervades every particular piece of technology. In order for people not to be "unfree and chained to technology," he argues, we must consider technology's essence, rather than only pursuing or evading, loving or hating particular developments in the endless stream of new devices.

This proposed panel seeks to examine how modernism and modernists understood what Heidegger calls the essence of technology. How did modernist writers define technology as a category? For these writers, what "technologicalness" tied together technologies in all of their various concrete manifestations? How did their understanding of technology's essence differ from or dovetail with that of other philosophers of technology, contemporary to the modernists (Heidegger, but also Mumford, Benjamin, McLuhan, Marcuse, etc.) or to us (Stiegler, Siegert, Kittler, etc.)? How did writers' understanding of the essence of technology affect or shape their definitions of art or the literary? What role might spectacle play in modernism's philosophies of technology?

Please send 300-word abstract and brief bio to Heather Fielding ( by March 30.