The new now : German modernists and news media, 1918-1951

  • Per Erik Robert Rolandsson

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis (PhD)


The thesis explores how German modernists understood the interrelation between news media and the experience of present time. The German modernists whose formative cultural and political experience was the Weimar Republic believed that the production and consumption of news media had the potential to synchronize spatially distant events. The distinctly modern sensation of contemporaneity was thought by Weimar modernists to depend on media representations of simultaneous events. Furthermore, the thesis illustrates how the Weimar modernist conception of present time and news media depended on a specific conception of history. The phenomena of modern news-media synchronicity and world history were frequently conflated by the modernists. The thesis explores this novel understanding of present time as a series of chronotopes that were prevalent in what I term the Weimar modernist news-media discourse. The synchronous present of modern news media is traced through modernist descriptions of it. Mid-20th century journalists, cultural critics and academic philosophers shared an understanding of present time and news media production. The selected method reveals a shared understanding of present time and news media production among mid-20th-century German modernists. The analysed authors include journalists, cultural critics and academic philosophers who partook in the modernist discourse regarding news media. Finally, the study shows how these chronotopes transformed in tandem with the history of the period between 1918 and 1951. It holds that specific urban settings and their news markets influenced how the modernists understood news media and present time. Through this historical investigation of Weimar modernism and its relation to news media, I contribute to the intellectual history of the 20th-century and the historical study of time. My historical analysis illustrates how journalistic theory, political thought and philosophy were influenced by this understanding of news media and time between 1918 and 1951.
Date of Award16 Jun 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of St Andrews
SupervisorRiccardo Bavaj (Supervisor) & Caroline Humfress (Supervisor)

Access Status

  • Full text embargoed until
  • 18 April 2027

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