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Internationaler Workshop "Immersion, Knowledge, Reflexion and Otium" (15.-16. Juli 2021)

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As part of the Collaborative Research Center on Otium (SFB 1015 Muße) at the University of Freiburg, an international virtual workshop on the topic of "Immersion, Knowledge, Reflexion and Otium" will be held July 15-16, 2021. The workshop is organized by Robin Curtis, Anne Holzmüller, and Jessica Mulvogue, who will present research results from their subprojects associated with the SFB (P5 "Otium and Immersion in Theme Park: Media Landscapes at Ontario Place (Toronto, 1971-2011)" (Curtis/Mulvogue) and R1 "Otium and Musical Immersion Experiences"(Holzmüller)).

Muße/otium is understood by the organizers of the workshop as an individual and social space of possibility, creativity and experience, which offers freedom from time constraints and obligations of productivity. While sometimes used as a synonym to ‘leisure’, the Latin term otium refers to a particular kind of leisure, one associated with the ancient Greek practices of ‘theoría’ (or contemplation) and ‘scholé’ (lecture, disputation, discussion) as well as with the freedom from business concerns or civic duties (negotium). In today's media-saturated and performance-driven society, characterized by overwork and burnout, there is little room for forms of leisure that do more than simply offer respite from work or entangle the individual in practices that ensure the maintenance of consumption. As efficiency pressures are felt in more and more areas, the concept of otium is thus once again becoming central to debates about spaces of freedom in society in general and in the arts and sciences in particular. 

Otium enables a form of attentiveness, respite, and a coming to oneself that leads not only to a more 'conscious' self-location in 'one's own' space and 'one's own' time, but also to a complex form of temporal and spatial lingering “in which the succession of time experience recedes in favour of simultaneity, indeterminacy and thus also the spatiality of experience” (Gimmel and Keiling 2016). Immersion is related to otium in so far as the experience of entering an aesthetically distinct realm (and subjecting oneself to its spatiotemporal structures) also implies an exit from the everyday world. Immersion can thus offer a free space that potentially suspends the temporal constraints and purposeful actions of everyday life. It is questionable, however, to what extent immersion can also lead to a moment of positive freedom, since undivided attention and integration into the aesthetic other tend to oppose this aspect that is constitutive of otium. 

Participants of the workshop have been invited to question and discuss the relationship between immersion and otium by focusing on the role of reflection, contemplation and knowledge, cognition and/or epistemology in relation to both phenomena. The aim of the workshop is to outline, from a variety of medial, historical, and disciplinary perspectives, a more complex understanding of immersion by considering aspects of otium such as self-reflection, lingering, or stillness, and, in turn, to consider the ways in which otium can be a primarily corporeal experience.

The workshop is not open to the public. Instead, the results of the workshop, in the form of detailed versions of the papers discussed, will be published as a special issue of an interdisciplinary journal (in English).



  • Robin Curtis, Professor, Institute for Media and Culture, University of Freiburg
  • Anne Holzmüller, Assistant Professor, Musicological Institute, University of Marburg
  • Jessica Mulvogue, Postdoctoral Researcher, CRC1015 Otium, University of Freiburg


Further workshop participants:

  • Natascha Adamowsky, Professor, Institute for Media Studies, Digital Media Technologies II, University of Passau
  • Audrey Anable, Associate Professor, Film Studies, Carleton University
  • Maren Butte, Assistant Professor, Institute for Media Cultural Studies, University of Düsseldorf
  • Carolin Duttlinger, Professor, German Literature and Cultural Studies, Oxford University
  • Melanie Fritsch, Assistant Professor, Institute for Media Cultural Studies, University of Düsseldorf
  • Nikola Mirkovic, Postdoctoral Researcher, Institute of Philosophy, University of Koblenz-Landau
  • Jan Noel Thon, Professor, Media Studies, Department of Arts and Media Studies, Norwegian University of Science and Technology
  • Samantha Wilson, Independent Scholar, Scotland


More on the research project by Robin Curtis and Jessica Mulvogue here.

For more information on the Collaborative Research Center please see here.