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Vilém Flusser

An Introduction

Anke Finger

Publication Year: 2011

Vilém Flusser (1920–1991) has long been known and celebrated in Europe and Brazil primarily as a media theorist. Only recently have other facets of his accomplishments come to light, clearly establishing Flusser as a key thinker.

An accessible and thorough introduction to Flusser’s thought, this book reveals his engagement with a wide array of disciplines, from communication studies, posthuman philosophy, media studies, and history to art and art history, migrant studies, anthropology, and film studies. The first to connect Flusser’s entire oeuvre, this volume shows how his works on media theory are just one part of a greater mosaic of writings that bring to the fore cultural and cognitive changes concerning all of us in the twenty-first century.

A theorist deeply influenced by his experiences as a privileged citizen of Prague, a Jew pursued by the Nazis, a European emigrant, a Brazilian immigrant, and a survivor keenly interested and invested in history and memory, Vilém Flusser was an outsider in a staunchly hierarchical and disciplined academic world.

Published by: University of Minnesota Press

Series: Electronic Mediations


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pp. 1-9


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pp. 10-11

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pp. xi-13

During this last stage of guiding our introduction to Vilém Flusser around the globe to its third continent, my work on this English-language edition has benefited from the help of several generous colleagues and institutions. Many thanks are due to the University of Connecticut Humanities Institute, where parts of the volume were first composed in English (to be then ...


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pp. xiii-15

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Introduction: Vilém Flusser’s Atlases

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pp. xv-xxx

In a short text titled “My Atlas,” Vilém Flusser recounts conversations with a fictitious grandfather, a writer, concerning this grandfather’s treasured atlases: “The first atlas served him to localize an event he wanted to describe. The second served to acquire an overview of all the events. In that sense, and thanks to these two atlases, he could simultaneously dive into the ...

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1. Migration, Nomadism, Networks: A Biography

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pp. 1-26

In a 1991 interview with Patrick Tschudin in Robion, France, Vilém Flusser defined biography not as the chronology of a life but as a list of networks: “A biography cannot be about some sort of ‘I.’ And it seems to me that anyone who tries to describe his own life history has never lived. Rather, I think that a biography consists of the listing of networks through which a current of ...

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2. On Doubt: The Web of Language

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pp. 27-43

On September 22, 1966, Flusser published a newspaper article in O Estado de São Paulo with a rather unusual title: “?” This question mark, one could argue, functions both as an interpunctuation and as an existential sign; it is as such nothing less than a sign of our times: the question mark has perhaps taken on greater significance than ...

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3. Translation and Multilingual Writing

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pp. 45-64

Translation is in many respects of major importance in Flusser’s life and work: it is at the same time a philosophical concept, a critical tool and creative principle, an art and craft of writing, and a metaphor for a nomadic existence between cultures and continents. Translation serves a specific way of thinking, writing, and living. Flusser wrote most of his texts in two or more ...

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4. Cultural Studies and Phenomenology

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pp. 65-82

Vilém Flusser’s work has been squeezed into a number of disciplines and areas, most of which he would have ogled with some suspicion, rejected outright, or accepted only reluctantly as a home for his ideas and work. Most likely, he would have accepted the label “philosophy” for his writings, albeit with reservations: “Mine was a life without religion and in search of religion, and ...

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5. Communication and Media Theory

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pp. 83-107

In the first chapter of Kommunikologie, written in the early 1970s and bearing the title “What Is Communication?,” Flusser sketches the most salient aspects of his communication theory. He considers human communication from an existential point of view, the question being, why do we communicate at all? ...

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6. Science as Fiction, Fiction as Science

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pp. 109-129

The word fiction contains largely positive connotations when it appears in a literary or artistic context. The same word, however, continues to conjure up rather negative associations when it is understood as the antithesis of reality. Regardless, these two perspectives mix and blur. During the eighteenth and ...

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7. On Creativity: Blue Dogs with Red Spots and Dialogic Imagination

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pp. 131-143

... At this point of the expellee discovering that he or she must be creative and the in-habit-ant realizing that his hand might be anything but familiar and is therefore exiled from his body, according to Flusser, dialogue becomes possible, and we can become creative: ...


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pp. 145-153

Bibliography of Vilém Flusser’s Major Texts

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pp. 155-157


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pp. 159-176

E-ISBN-13: 9780816676934
E-ISBN-10: 0816676933
Print-ISBN-13: 9780816674794

Page Count: 200
Publication Year: 2011

Series Title: Electronic Mediations