William Stewart is a PhD candidate in the Department of German and Princeton's Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program in the Humanities.
With an undergraduate background in Western great books, he came to Princeton in 2015 after working for a number of years in the Berlin studio of Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson.
His dissertation traces a cultural and intellectual history within German-speaking contexts in the decades after the Second World War, one marked by a left-political commitment to rationalism and technology. While it considers the reception of early cybernetics and information theory in the German-speaking avant-garde during this period, it also analyzes longer trajectories reaching back to 19th-century mathematical developments like set and number theories, and even stretches to Enlightenment projects like Diderot and d’Alembert’s Encylopédie or Leibniz’s mathesis universalis. This cultural history is composed of case studies that exhibit both direct engagement with this material—such as Max Bense and Oswald Wiener—as well as more mediated instances—such as the Hochschule für Gestaltung Ulm, Hanne Darboven, and Uwe Johnson.
For the 2018-2019 academic year, he is a Fulbright scholar in Germany, affiliated with the IKKM (Internationales Kolleg für Kulturtechnikforschung und Medienphilosophie) at the Bauhaus-Universität in Weimar.