Philosopher and political commentator Daniel Herwitz will kick off GIPCA’s 2010 Great Texts / Big Questions lecture series on 4 March.
Professor Herwitz, Director of the Institute for the Humanities at the University of Michigan, USA, is currently Mellon Visiting Research Fellow at UCT. He is the author of ‘Star as Icon’, about the creation of this media persona from the joint forces of film, television, tabloid and consumer society. He has written numerous other books, short fiction and a book of essays about the South African transition ‘Race and Reconciliation’. He is a highly respected speaker and commentator on art, politics and the media.
In his Great Texts / Big Questions lecture Herwitz says he will explore “how the media are shifting the terms of democracy in America and elsewhere. The media are now a central, if not intrusive part of the American political landscape and have been since the fatherly fireside chats of President Roosevelt. The media formulate canons for debate, in many ways control the flow of information, and turn presidents into celebrities.
“Most American youths get their news from late night comedy programs, meaning they find news palatable only if presented in the form of personal ad lib and entertainment. This elevation of the candidate to celebrity, stardom, talk show intimacy all at once causes the political process to become unpredictable, since no one can control how the public will levitate its candidates, nor where its feet will remain firmly planted on the ground. As a philosopher writing about aesthetics I will explore this public propensity to levitate in terms of the formation of the star and celebrity through the combined forces of film, television, tabloid, and consumer society.”