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. This lecture 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?
Welcome by Professor Bill Sherman (Warburg) and Introduction by Dr Claudia Wedepohl (Warburg)