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Television and Collectivity

Stephen Groening, Television and Collectivity (book project)

My second book project, tentatively entitled Television and Collectivity, arises from my continuing research concern with an emergent social order I have dubbed “connected isolation.” This phrase alludes to the ubiquity of screen technologies and the accompanying demands on attention that favors mediated interaction over physical co-presence. While Television and Collectivity is indebted to my previous work on the contradiction posed by contemporary media devices, it leaves behind my dissertation’s concerns with  theories of the public sphere, political economy, and the history of technology to account for the influence of television on European Critical Theory. This new book project aims to recover that time period when television was “new media,” and thereby trace the way that the aesthetic encounter with the images and sounds of the small domestic screen shaped the work of some of the most significant thinkers of postwar Europe. A surprising range of European thinkers — Rudolf Arnheim, Jean-Paul Sartre, Raymond Williams, Umberto Eco, Jean Baudrillard, and Paul Virilio — responded to the new medium of television as emblematic of a new emergent cultural, social, and political order in which the simulation of reality and abolition of distance through the transmission of image and sound brought about new challenges to collectivity.