„Now. Now? Now!“: Multiple Presences in a Changing Society

„Now. Now? Now!“: Multiple Presences in a Changing Society

„Now. Now? Now!“: Multiple Presences in a Changing Society. Interdisciplinary Workshop held at the University of Duisburg-Essen (Essen Campus) on October 19 and 20 of 2017.

Speed is a signifier of modernity. It determines how fast future events are turned into past events. The ‘now’ – this volatile transition of expectations to remembrances – loses its right to remain contemporary with every compression of time. This loss of nowness is rooted in the increasingly accelerated infrastructures of transport, communication and information; boosted by economic production cycles which render goods obsolete before they can be utilized. Against this industrial marginalization of the ‘now’ the literary and artistic interest in experiencing the conscious present has expanded remarkably. 

Frequently, this consciousness is articulated initially as protest against the accelerating modes, but then strives to observe and determine the ‘now’ in its moments of rest and intensity, encounter and decision, concentration and contemplation; but also as intrusion: of disruptions of the norm, anxieties, and actual physical harm. These attempts refer back to the religious motifs of divine epiphany. In its secular form epiphany is often evoked and transformed into moments of extraordinary experience, even that of the everyday and pop cultural phenomena. In the context of event cultures and emotional manipulation, the concept of epiphany is also often inserted into economic and political perspectives.    

 The common denominator of all these contexts is: the general experience of accelerated time setting free the inverse awareness of ‘now’-experiences. This workshop is devoted to a comprehensive analysis of these ‘now-moments’ in all their aspects (construction, signification, semiotics, risks).

Topics are: Modes of constructing presentness

  • in language and intercultural communication (Beißwenger / Ziegler)
  • in religion (Wittekind)
  • in the arts (Genge)
  • in contemporary literature (Pontzen/Mattern)
  • in action theory (Mertens)
  • in biography (Wagner-Egelhaaf)
  • in the public sphere of mass communication and politics, e.g. political real-time communication (Bieber)
  • in the disclosure staging of whistleblowers (Rocks)
  • in ‘moments of pause’ in medial presentations of political action (Parr),
  • in understanding craftsmanship as ‘fulfilled’ work (Schaaf),
  • as immersion into social media and its effect on the social subject (Seyfert).

Other topics are the paradoxical relation of simultaneity and sequence in the interactive construction of communication (Loenhoff), the pedagogical relevance of attentiveness and awareness in the experience of presentness (von Stockhausen/Bellingrath), and the importance of moments of libido in behavioral dependencies and other addictions (Herpertz/te Wildt).

Further Information



Prof. Dr. Alexandra Pontzen
Department of German Studies, UDE
Berliner Platz 6-8, 45127 Essen, Germany
E-Mail: alexandra.pontzen@uni-due.de