Culture > Events > Warburg on Luther and Dürer: Media Wars and the Freedom to Think
Event Date: 20th Feb 2019 | 17:30
Warburg on Luther and Dürer: Media Wars and the Freedom to Think
Warburg Institute, Woburn Square, London WC1H 0AB
Presented by Jane O. Newman, Director of European Studies and Professor of Comparative Literature at UC-Irvine.
Today’s mad landscape of fake news is not unique; a “sensationalizing press” (Sensationspresse) has sought to stir up public opinion, and even to provoke social and political upheaval, countless times in the past. These events will take as their starting point Aby Warburg’s 1920 essay on the ‘media wars’ of the sixteenth century, in which he claims to see a battle being waged against this trend by Martin Luther and Albrecht Dürer. Their “sense for the truth” made them into early modern heroes of reason for Warburg, as they fought on behalf of the “freedom to think” carefully and critically in the face of irrationalisms of all kinds. Their example as seekers of truth were especially meaningful in his own post-war period. Is Warburg’s way of resisting fake news a model for us? A close reading of his examples asks us to consider who is to lead whom toward greater ‘truths’, if and when partisanship becomes the norm across the ranks?
Image credit: Johann Carion, The Prediction and Explanation of the Great Flooding (Prognosticatio und erklerung der grossen wesserung) (Leipzig, 1521)