31 Jan 2019 – 01 Feb 2019

Surveillance. Fictions and Emotions

Venue: ZfL, Schützenstr. 18, 10117 Berlin, 3. Et., Seminarraum
Organized by Betiel Wasihun (Technische Universität Berlin) und Stefan Willer (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)

Workshop at the Leibniz Center for Literary and Cultural Research (ZfL)
in collaboration with the Institute for German Literature at the HU Berlin and the Institute for
Philosophy, Literature, History of Science and Technology at the TU Berlin

Surveillance technologies have become an integral part of everyday life. Today’s society is increasingly shaped and controlled by video surveillance, biometrics and data mining – at workplaces, in private spaces and in cyberspace. In the wake of the paradigm shift from the ›disciplinary society‹ (Foucault) to the ›control society‹ (Deleuze), authority and power are diffused; information is gathered algorithmically and reinterpreted into patterns; surveillance has slipped into a liquid state and has become all the more ubiquitous. However, the idea of ubiquitous surveillance as such is not new at all; it refers back to traditional and influential concepts such as the divine omniscience or the ›eyes of the law.‹ Even if the idea of a centralized surveillance authority reaches its limits in the face of post-panoptic forms of surveillance, it is clear that the phantasm of constantly being-seen from a superior position has influenced contemporary surveillance discourse significantly. What is more, the cultural history of self-surveillance and self-observation also – and especially – in religious contexts goes back far beyond current electronic data technology.

The workshop »Surveillance. Fictions and Emotions« will look at such ideas and practices from various disciplines (literature, film and media studies, philosophy, sociology) in order to critically question the dynamics of today’s surveillance society. What does seeing and being-seen mean in different forms of surveillance? What kind of media and visual strategies are involved? How have the central codes of individuality, intimacy, privacy and the public changed? What mental states and emotions were – and are – associated with surveillance? Does surveillance primarily generate fear, anxiety and suspicion, or does it also enable a sense of trust and security? How do external surveillance and self-surveillance work – for example, with regards to the problem of shame? And if we take into account that the insight into internal processes is an important criterion for fictionality, how do surveillance and fiction interconnect?


Thursday, 31 Jan 2019

Betiel Wasihun (TU Berlin), Stefan Willer (HU Berlin): Einführung



  • Julien Deonna (Université de Genève): Is Shame Surveillance?
  • Nicole Falkenhayner (Universität Freiburg): Media, Surveillance and Affect




  • Almut Suerbaum (University of Oxford): ›huote‹ and ›luegenaere‹. Concepts of Surveillance in Pre-Modern German Literature
  • Stefan Willer (HU Berlin): Paradoxien der Beobachtung in der Experimentalseelenlehre des 18. Jahrhunderts




  • Matthias Hurst (Bard College Berlin): To Watch and Being Watched. Voyeurism, Surveillance and Paranoia in Popular Film


  • Dietmar Kammerer (Universität Marburg): Ist mein Datenschatten real? Streifzüge durch einen Topos des Überwachungsdiskurses
  • Tobias Matzner (Universität Paderborn): Cooperation between Humans and Algorithms. Fictions and Technologies


  • David Murakami Wood (Queen's University, Kingston/Kanada): Imagining Glocal Government. Micro-Democracy, Surveillance and Control in Malka Older's Centenal Cycle


Friday, 01 Feb 2019



  • Leon Hempel (TU Berlin): Karneval und Kontrolle
  • Nils Zurawski (Universität Hamburg): Consumption of Surveillance




  • Matthias Schwartz (ZfL): Das Schicksal des Scharfsichtigen. Sowjetische Überwachungsfiktionen der Stalinzeit und danach


  • Claude Haas (ZfL): Von der Fremdüberwachung zur Selbstüberwachung. George Orwells 1984 und Dave Eggers' The Circle
  • Betiel Wasihun (TU Berlin): No Privacy, No Shame? Surveillance in Contemporary Dystopian Fiction


  • Abschlussdiskussion