This panel investigates the relationship between global modernism and surveillance by studying how new optical technologies developed during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries engaged with changing conceptions of embodiment, self-perception, subjectivity and virtuality in ways that continue to resonate with contemporary concerns over remote monitoring. The present-day explosion of surveillance mechanisms across the planet, such as drones, body scanners, CCTV, webcams, dataveillance tools and biometric devices; alongside automated forms of inter-personal interaction (telemedicine, robot caregivers) raise new questions surrounding privacy, identity, self-regulation and the reach of disciplinary power in the operations of daily life. Writers such as Foucault, Debord, and Baudrillard have stressed the importance of the disciplinary apparatus and its uncanny ability to both permeate and constitute the perceiving subject, in part through the flow of commodities. By contrast, modernism has often been seen as undoing these forms of control, engaging in an anarchic or revolutionary overthrow of norms in the scopic regime. Walter Benjamin, Siegfried Kracauer and the Frankfurt School’s critiques are paradigmatic in this regard. Yet these critiques also highlight the liminal position of the modern subject: at once observing and observed by the surrounding world.
Please send a 250-word abstract and brief professional biography (2-3 sentences) to Cate Reilly at firstname.lastname@example.org by April 13. We also welcome interested moderators and presiders.