Department of European Languages and Cultures

Popular Culture and Technologies of Vision. Toward a Genealogy of Virtual Reality in the Late Eighteenth and the Nineteenth Century

Prof Massimo Riva (Brown University)

Panoramas, dioramas and magic lanterns conjure up the belle epoque of an optical and mechanical modernity: the “acquarium of remoteness and the past” as Walter Benjamin put it, referring to the Kaiser Panorama he visited as a child in Berlin, the toy store of a precinematic and predigital adolescent world, magisterially re-evoked by Martin Scorsese in Hugo (2011). Often inspired by the archaeological method of Michel Foucault, over the past twenty years Dolf Sternberger and other pioneers from film and media to literary and cultural studies have explored these ‘curiosities’ in order to trace the prehistory of cinema, illuminate the visual culture of modernity, or explore the genealogy of our contemporary media system. All this has led, more recently, to the birth of a new, transdisciplinary field: media archaeology.

Biography

Massimo Riva is Royce Family Professor of Teaching Excellence and Professor of Italian Studies at Brown University. His books range from Renaissance philosophy to post-humanism and the digital humanities. His pioneering engagement with information technology in both teaching and research has led to the creation of award-winning projects such as The Decameron Web, the Brown-Bologna Pico Project, and the Virtual Humanities Lab at Brown. Prof. Riva is currently at work on a digital monograph  entitled “Italian Shadows: The Virtual Life of Casanova and Other Tales of Imaginary and Forgotten Media”.

18th century magic lantern
Feb 15 2017 -

Popular Culture and Technologies of Vision. Toward a Genealogy of Virtual Reality in the Late Eighteenth and the Nineteenth Century

Professor Massimo Riva will be giving a talk on the birth of a new, transdisciplinary field: media archaeology.

David Hume Tower
George Square
Edinburgh
EH8 9JX