A recording of the workshop ‘Alone Together: Changing Forms of Sociability from the Rise of Modernism to the Digital Age’, is now available online.
Organised by Katja Haustein from the Department of Comparative Literature, and Dr Tom Baldwin and Dr Lucy O’Meara from the Department of Modern Languages and Linguistics, plus Marie Kolkenbrock (King’s College London), the workshop was organised around the following terms: distraction and attention; intimacy and distance; individuality and collectivism; immunity and contagion; connectivity and detachment; tact and tactility; rhythm.
We live, it is often said, in solitary times: modern life in densely populated space creates a desire for separation paired with a fear of alienation; ideologies of communality are challenged by new forms of individualism; the experience of an increasing political and social divide makes dialogue and contact ever more difficult; technology transforms our public and intimate selves.
The current coronavirus outbreak throws these issues into an uncomfortably sharp relief: the global spread of the virus highlights our interdependency and connectedness but creates the necessity of social distancing and self-isolation, evoking responses of both solidarity and animosity. In this interdisciplinary workshop the aim was to address these key anxieties of our age by turning to the work of one of the last great modernist thinkers: Roland Barthes.