Degrees of Lustre: An Experimental Taxonomy of Manifestations, Marvels and Mischwesen

Jane Hutchinson

The seminar will present a brief historiographical review of methods and processes of classification of so-called ‘avatars’. This will include manifestations of the idea as material entity or imagined embodiment; illusory vehicles for experiencing enchantment and the marvelous. The aim is to facilitate the development of an appropriate taxonomy or framework for further study, and through discussion to explore the question set out in the introduction to this seminar series that is, whether the recognition now of what constitutes an avatar indicates a change or release of a dormant capacity in human cognition or, whether new media and technology simply allows us to experience this phenomenon in a new way.

Texts, images, artifacts and film drawn from the fields of anthropology, literature, theatre and religion, performance and ritual, puppetry and masks, the development of the photographic image and film, and new-media technologies will be presented. You are invited to contribute to the seminar by considering and sharing experiences of encounters with the avatar and how this phenomenon is manifest in your area of research.