Social Science Research Council Research AMP Mediawell

Existential Media: A Media Theory of the Limit Situation

Lagerkvist, Amanda

This book offers a reappreciation and revisiting of existential philosophy—and in particular of Karl Jaspers’s philosophy—for media theory in order to remedy the existential deficit in the field. The book thereby also offers an introduction to the young field of existential media studies. Jaspers’s concept of the limit situation is chosen as a privileged reality which allows for bringing limits, in all their shapes and forms, onto the radar when interrogating digital existence. Despite their all-pervasiveness the book argues that media speak to and about limits and limitations in a variety of ways. The book furthermore argues that the present age of deep technocultural saturation—and of escalating multifaceted and interrelated global crises—is a digital limit situation, in which there are both existential and politico-ethical stakes of media. To enter into these terrains, the book places the margin of mourners and the meek—the coexisters—at the center of media studies. The book provides an alternative mapping for approaching digital cultures in contexts of both the mundane and the extraordinary, and on scales traversing the individual and the global. Empirically Existental Media attends to mourning, commemorating, and speaking to the dead online as well as to the digital afterlife. It interrogates four cases that center on the voices from the field of online bereavement, and provides an arc of media instantiations of the digital limit situation: chapter 5: Metric Media; chapter 6: Caring Media, chapter 7: Transcendent Media and chapter 8: Anticipatory media.