RMeS Winter School & Graduate Symposium 2019-20

When? 29 & 30 January 2020
Time? TBA
Where? Utrecht University
ECTS? 2 (two full days plus preparation 3 days)
Organized by? Professor Frank Kessler (UU) and RMeS
Open to? PhD candidates who are a member of RMeS
Fee (non-members): € 150

This Winter School will feature different types of sessions: 1) parallel sessions for presenting your work to peers 2) lectures by RMeS staff members and 3) a workshop on Research Valorisation and Fundraising Schemes.

  1. PhD’s are kindly asked to submit an abstract of their paper presentation. This may regard a chapter of your dissertation, a draft for an article, or a write-up of research results, which you would like to discuss with your peers. We will group your abstracts into panels, selecting panels on the basis of your theme/subject, approach and your level of advancement in the PhD track. If you want to be in a session with one or two of your peers (people whose judgment you value, or people you haven’t worked with yet) please feel free to indicate this on your abstract. We will then try to organize panels on the basis of your proposals. You will be assigned to peer-review one paper and to chair or respond to one paper in another session. A month before the Winter School starts, you will be asked to send in your full chapter or article, which will be peer-reviewed and responded to during the Winter School.
  2. Lectures: Prof. dr Vanessa Toulmin, tba
  3. Finally, this Winter School & Graduate Seminar will also offer a workshop on Research Valorisation and Fundraising Schemes.

Keynote speaker Prof. dr Vanessa Toulmin

An Engaged and Civic University – Public Engagement and Co-production 

Universities in the United Kingdom are frequently becoming both anchor institutions for their city regions and the academic research undertaken is no longer perceived as being enclosed but now engaging and working with and for and of benefit to the wider community.  The myriad ways in which the University of Sheffield engage within their city region will be presented. These will include case studies of Faculty and Department wide initiatives, individual research collaborations and wider co-production models that benefit both the academic researcher in their teaching engagement and also enriches their research practice.  The University of Sheffield prides itself on partnership and this will be demonstrated by exemplary case studies in the build environment, the creative industries and the wider cultural ecology.

Twitter – @professorvaness


Professor Vanessa Toulmin is the Director of City & Culture, Partnerships & Regional Engagement at The University of Sheffield. Professor Toulmin heads up the team, setting the vision and strategy and leading on City & Cultural Engagement aiming to shine a light on Sheffield’s contribution to 21st century culture through its incredible music, multi-faceted festivals, the international significance of its artists and the modernist city.

A leading authority on Victorian entertainment and film Professor Toulmin chairs Renew Sheffield and prior to that the Sheffield Culture Consortium which, in partnership with the University, delivered and programmed the Year of Making in Sheffield in 2016 and its subsequent offshoot City Of Makers.

Professor Toulmin is the lead figure for the University of Sheffield’s partnership with Marketing Sheffield which led to an Arts Council Cultural Destination Award developing Sheffield as a ‘Magnet City’ for cultural tourism having commissioned reports on Sheffield’s Music, Beer, Art and Creative Digital industries highlighting Sheffield’s wealth of creative talent.

Workshop Session with Fran Marshall

How to get started and evaluate the impact of public engagement activities

The session will be presented by Fran Marshall, Research and Evaluation Manager in Partnerships and Regional Engagement at the University of Sheffield, UK. She will draw on her experience of public engagement and present a model of evaluating public engagement which was developed for Engage, the UK’s public engagement conference in 2015. The workshop will be interactive and participants will be encouraged to share their own research and ideas. It will cover:

  1. What is public engagement?
  2. Incorporating public engagement in grant applications
  3. Evaluation tools and when to use them
  4. Evidencing the impact of your research through public engagement

Fran Marshall is the Research and Evaluation Manager in Partnerships and Regional Engagement at the University of Sheffield.

Fran’s role is to lead on the research and evaluation of public engagement activity across the University in events such as the Festival of the Mind. She also advises on evaluation of regional engagement activities which influence the strategic direction of the university. She also delivers the public engagement masterclass training programme for staff which covers all aspects of public engagement and supports academics from all disciplines. As an evaluation professional, Fran has a breadth of experience in evaluation methods and is always on the lookout for new techniques.

She has a background in academic research in the areas of community engagement, regeneration and evaluation with over twenty years of experience in working in universities.

In her spare time, Fran is a runner and a social media ambassador for parkrun UK.

Sign up for Winter School

If you are interested in participating and earning credit (both in EC and social credit from your peers), please

  • Register for the Winter School before December 16, 2019 via our website. You will receive a confirmation email from our RMeS office.
  • Please submit abstracts for individual presentations before January 8, 2020. Abstracts for individual presentations are max 300 words, including a clear research question or thesis statement. Please indicate on your abstract whether you would like to be in a panel with specified other participants and/or whom you consider a suitable reviewer for your paper (although we cannot promise that all your wishes will come true…).
  • You can opt for two formats in terms of paper submission:
  1. Those of you who are in the very early stages of your PhD, may also consider to hand in your PhD proposal, which will then be commented upon by your peers. (recommended to PhDs who have just started)
  2. Most PhD candidates will opt to hand in a chapter/article format: a full paper of approx. 5,000 – 6,000 words.
  • Full papers of (or one of the above formats) are due by January 14, 2020. On the basis of your submissions, we will group the panels, assign reviewers and organize responses. We will distribute the papers to all panel-members and assign the tasks of writing a full peer review (1-2 pages long). Each of you will have to write one peer review.
  • Presentations: During the Winter School, each participant will give a presentation of 5-10 minutes. Each presentation will receive a prepared peer review (in writing, handed in the same day, and a short oral summary of the review). Another panel member will be assigned as discussant/respondent. All session members engage in discussion and feedback.

RMeS RMa Course: Contemporary approaches to digital cultures: platforms, politics, performances and people

When? 3 April, 17 April, 24 April, 1 May and 8 May. 13:00-17:00
Where? This course will be held online, Students who registered for this course will get instructions
For? PhD Candidates and RMa Students
Credits? 6 ECTS
Coordination? Dr Payal Arora (Erasmus University Rotterdam – ERMeCC)
Registration is closed.

How do we identify the fake from the real? What strategies enable us to reveal and yet protect our subjects who seek anonymity online? Can researchers be activists and their research serve as instruments for social change? How do we ensure fair representation through big data analytics? These are some of the questions that need addressing as we seek to study digital cultures. This course identifies key research issues and novel methodological solutions in the study of contemporary digital cultures. In particular, we investigate challenges faced in the arena of data authenticity, representation and communication to lay and other publics.

The course is organised around four dimensions – platforms, politics, performances and people. Platforms are the new contexts for digital cultures. They are deeply corporatized, walled gardens that often allow a small circle of researchers to access their vast data. They are designed to be unstable, as they need to constantly innovate and re-design to stay competitive. Here, students learn to apply methods of place-making and data hacking to circumvent issues of access and locatedness. To speak thoughtfully about the politics of engagement, students learn to critically identify and capture the perspective from varied actors such as (non)users, programmers, politicians, corporations and activists. To extract voices from below, students learn how to deploy action research using social media campaigns. Performances are about digital expressions, memes and trends. Here, students learn to use digital methods to assess claims of globality and diversity through big data. Lastly, in the module on People, students learn to apply auto-ethnography to digital contexts such as gaming, city navigation and other applications. Overall, this course provides both qualitative and quantitative methodological insights into the examining of contemporary digital cultures.


Students have knowledge and understanding of:

  • A critical understanding of contemporary digital cultures
  • Key methodological problems risen due to the advancement of new technology platforms
  • Exposure and critical insight into novel empirical approaches for the digital age
  • Diversity in digital cultures and the implications on social equality and representation

Students are able to:

  • apply relevant theoretical insights in choosing appropriate methods to analyze digital cultures
  • critically reflect on academic texts, both verbal and in written form
  • design and write an essay; make an intellectually compelling argument on the choice of methods and identification of challenges in the chosen topic
  • present their argument in a clear, convincing and engaging manner

Compulsory literature:

  • Readings via RMeS and online resources

RMeS Workshop: Platforms, Play and Cartography

Platforms, Play and Cartography: The Political Unconscious of Digital Landscapes

When? 27 May 2019
Where? University of Amsterdam BG 2 0.12 and BG 1 0.16
Time? 9.00-18.00
Coordinator? Dr Bogna Konior (UvA)
Open to? PhD Candidates and RMa students, max. 15 participants
Register here

Today’s digital economy is structured by precarity and play, prompting questions about the relationship between new media and platform capitalism. Increasingly, these inquiries increasingly ponder the relationship between new media, emergent forms of labor and the natural environment, especially with regards to climate change. The popular dismissal of online multiplayer environments, modding economies, and computer games as isolating virtual experiences misses the opportunity to examine them as a form of digital geography through which we can analyse dramatic shifts in human relationships with the physical environment. The complex materiality of game platforms and the procedural nature of their experience require that we think beyond content or representation and instead sketch a cartography of playable digital landscapes sprawled across precarious platforms, often interlaced with politically-charged symbols and practices. These incoherent environments are our ‘cognitive maps,’ lenses that bring the contemporary interrelation of natural, economic and digital surroundings into focus.  

The workshop is organized by Dr Bogna Konior, a lecturer in new media and digital culture at the University of Amsterdam, and co-taught by Dr Peter Nelson (Assistant Professor, Hong Kong Baptist University), who have published in the fields of new media, digital culture and politics, and computer game studies. They are currently engaged in developing a multimedia project across theory and practice, which considers the relation between subcultural digital politics, platform economies, virtual environments and climate change.

This seminar and workshop event brings together a range of scholars from geography, media and game studies whose research has engaged with the digital geographies of computer games. The morning session will comprise seminar presentations from our speakers. Special topics will include the cartography of digital games, locative games, data and platforms, the blurring of play and labour, and the political, meme-filled unconscious of modded game environments.

The afternoon session will comprise a workshop, which will take participants into the virtual world Garry’s Mod, where we will build, discuss and test ideas in a real-time, publicly accessible virtual environment. Garry’s Mod offers a unique configuration of mechanical sophistication, player numbers (approximately 20,000 at any given time) and the type of hedonistic, asinine and anarchic online environment that can be a fertile ground to experiment with theoretical praxis. The workshop will include a ‘boot camp’ for basic interactions and building methods. As the workshops develop, we will introduce participants to more advanced techniques of saving and iterating built components, such that experiments can generate a ratchet effect and iterate upon acquired knowledge, all while navigating this politically and culturally-charged space.

The workshop will be filmed by a virtual camera, recorded and streamed on YouTube and Twitch. This content will then be archived for the production of the final project publication. Over the course of future workshops, we will make these files available to participants via Google Drive, where we can also share readings and collaborate on theoretical texts.

Assignment for graduate participants:

Through player accounts on Steam that we will provide, the students will be taught how to use the GMOD environment. They will make a short screen captured video using mods, dupes, saves and images we develop together and integrate the theoretical and conceptual insights into them either in the form of a voiceover or a text input via the multiplayer chat. These will be graded according to the ability to incorporate the preparatory literature and insights from the seminar (4 points), the clarity of the arguments made (2 points) and creativity (2 points). The grade will be awarded as the workshop grade for those requiring 1 EC for the completion.


  • Küchlich, Julian. 2005. “Precarious Playbour : Modders and the Digital Games Industry The History of Modding The Economy of Modding.” The Fibreculture Journal, no. 5.
  • Kirby, Alan. 2009. ‘Digimodernist Culture’ in Digimodernism: How New Technologies Dismantle The Postmodern and Reconfigure Our Culture. New York and London: Continuum.

OPTIONAL: Nelson, Peter. 2017. ‘A Game Made From Other Games: Actions and Entities in Garry’s Mod.’ Proceedings of the Philosophy of Computer Games Conference, Krakow.


Seminar, BG2 0.12

09:00 Welcoming address: Dr Peter Nelson, Hong Kong Baptist University & Dr Bogna Konior, University of Amsterdam

09:30 Prof Sybille Lammes, University of Leiden

10:00 Thijs Van Den Berg, University of Amsterdam

10:30 – 11:00 **COFFEE BREAK**

11:30 Dr Clancy Wilmott, University of Manchester

12:00 Dr Alex Gekker, University of Amsterdam

12:30 – 13:30 **LUNCH**

13:30 Dr Marc Bonner, University of Cologne

14:00 Dr Emma Fraser, University of Manchester

14:30 – 15:00 **COFFEE BREAK**


Workshop, E-Lab BG1 0.16

15:00 – 18:00  Climate Unconscious in Computer Games: Theorising in Online Sandbox Environments



RMeS Masterclass: Fandom and Audience Studies Methodologies with Lori Morimoto

When? Monday 01 July 2019
Where? HU University of Applied Sciences, Creative Business – Room number: 3.072, Heidelberglaan 15 Utrecht
For? PhD Candidates and RMa Students
ECTS? 1 ECTS (for RMa Students and PhD candidates only)
Confirmed Speakers? Lori Morimoto, Dr Jessica Seymour, Dr Anne Kustritz & Dr. Dan Hassler-Forest
Organization and introduction? Dr Nicolle Lamerichs

Biography invited speaker

Lori Morimoto researches transcultural fandoms and East Asian regional media. Her recent work includes chapters in The Companion to Fandom and Fan Studies, Routledge Companion to Media Fandom, Seeing Fans: Representations of Fandom in Media and Popular Culture, and the forthcoming Transatlantic Television Drama and Becoming: Essays on NBC’s Hannibal. She has published in Participations: Journal of Audience and Reception Studies (with Bertha Chin), Transformative Works and Cultures, [in]Transition: Journal of Videographic Film and Moving Image Studies, Asian Cinema, and has an article forthcoming in Journal of East Asian Popular Culture. Her outreach projects include The Fan Meta Reader, which showcases fan-penned media and fan cultural analysis for a non-fandom audience, and Fan Studies for Fans, a 10-lecture series for fans wanting to learn more about fan studies scholarship.

Biography organizer

Dr. Nicolle Lamerichs is senior lecturer and team lead at Creative Business at HU University of Applied Sciences, Utrecht. She holds PhD in media studies. Her book Productive Fandom explores intermediality and reception in fan cultures. Her research focuses on participatory culture and new media, specifically the nexus between popular culture, storytelling and play.


12:30 Registration with coffee and lunch

13:00 Introductions

Getting to know each other and short welcome by Dr. Nicolle Lamerichs

13:30-14:30 Opening lecture

Lecture on transcultural research, fandom and methodology by Dr. Lori Morimoto

Respondents: Dr. Anne Kustritz & Dr. Dan Hassler-Forest


14:45-16:00 Fan Studies Panel

Talks about fan and audience methodologies by amongst others Dr. Jessica Seymour, Dr. Anne Kustritz & Dr. Dan Hassler-Forest, including round table discussion.

16:00-17:00 Tips and Tricks in Cultural Research

RMeS students bring questions and struggles that the panel of fan scholars responds to. RMeS students read the literature and relate it to their own work.

17.00 Drinks and Snacks
Assignment for participants

Assignment: Bring questions and examples from your own work. Please read the literature before the workshop, and formulate questions regarding the topics.


Creative Business. Institute for Communication (floor 3), Heidelberglaan 15, Utrecht Science Park, Utrecht

Public Transport: Take bus 12 or 28 from Utrecht Central Station for approximately 15 minutes in the direction of Uithof (Stop: Heidelberglaan).

By car: Parking locations


Review: RMeS Network Event – How do You… Collaborate with External Partners?

Collaboration with external partners: Why? How? What are the consequences?

This blog is written by Rashid Gabdulhakov (PhD-EUR)

As academics, we are still ‘touching the waters’ in matters of collaboration with external partners. Collaboration is a logical and, perhaps, an inevitable scenario in contemporary research.  But how do we tune it up? How do we turn collaboration into a well-oiled engine that can guarantee us a long-lasting, smooth, and mutually satisfying ride? This year’s RMeS annual networking event was dedicated to debunking these complex and highly relevant questions. The invited speakers Prof Dr Tamara Witschge, Dr Amanda Paz Alencar and Professor Melissa Wall shared their rich experiences and unique perspectives. In this blog entry, I will provide brief snapshots of presentations and discussions that took place at the workshop, as they can be handy for our fellow PhDs who could not join the event.

The event

The idea and importance of collaboration with external partners has been actively penetrating and circulating in the academia-related discourse. When organizing this year’s annual networking event, the PhD Council of the Research School for Media Studies (RMeS) decided to tackle the topic and debunk the issue with the help of the invited experts. Council members and RMeS Board are very grateful to the experts for their time and unique insights. We also thank all of the participants for joining us, for asking important and challenging questions and for sharing their own experiences.

Why collaborate with external partners?

The workshop opened with a critical take on the very nature of collaboration with external partners. Workshop participants were challenged to think about what is lacking in current approaches in order to formulate a coherent and multi-perspective understanding of the importance of collaboration. Who are these partners, what are their interests, backgrounds, perceptions?

Participants were encouraged to critically assess their own position and presentation when approaching new actors. Partners beyond academia can be a crucial source of information and a source of access to the field. Moreover, they can inform and assist us in constructing the ‘right’ questions in the early stages of our research when we explore the topic. Here it is important to note some of the challenges associated with exploratory site visits. For instance, justifying such visits to ‘the other side’ can be a difficult task.

As academics, we have a voice and a desire to make a meaningful impact through our research. Collaboration with external partners presents unique opportunities for getting our analysis and arguments ‘out there’ and into ‘the real world’. In the broad sense, the WHY question can be summarized as getting access, ensuring connectivity, being informed, informing, contributing and participating.

How do we establish collaboration?

When organizing events, we should be conscious of opportunities to invite external partners. Workshops and academic conferences can be fruitful grounds for mutually beneficial connectivity and exchange between academia and external partners. Social media is another important and handy domain where we can approach, connect and maintain contact with actors we are interested in establishing a collaboration with. Social media is also a space where we present our projects and ourselves; therefore, we should be savvy and strategic about personal presentation. Realistically speaking, a lot has to do with ‘who you know’ and ‘who you can get to know’ through your own network. So, be proactive!

The dangers and conflicts of interest in collaboration with external partners

The workshop’s second half was dedicated to addressing the more challenging sides of collaboration with external partners. Some of the addressed topics included financial questions, ethics, project ownership, personal and collective aims, etc. When it comes to finances, we tend to think that collaboration can help us fund research and financially aid those who decide to collaborate with us. In reality, things are more complicated and our project members are increasingly more often expected to pitch-in financially.

As far as finding research partners is concerned, there are over-researched sites and over-partnered institutions, which may further make it difficult to identify and approach potential collaborators. The workshop participants were encouraged to think strategically and critically about whom to approach and why. There are cases where the approached partners have had a negative experience with academics in the past, it is important to be aware of such instances and to work out your own strategy for approaching such actors. Furthermore, it is important to keep considering the motivations to collaborate – not only the motivations of our collaborators but also our own. How do we ensure ethical and mutually beneficial collaborative partnerships in which both academic integrity and the greater good are served? Neither academia nor external partners are homogeneous entities. Thus, we need to think about how alternative voices can be heard.

To avoid any potential misunderstandings and contestations over project trajectory and ownership, it is important to get the expectations out at the very early stages of establishing a collaboration. We should always be pragmatic, strategic, and true to ourselves and our partners.

Summing up

Collaboration with external partners can be a wonderful and mutually beneficial experience. If you ask yourself the right questions before and during the collaboration, your chances for a satisfying and successful experience will rise. I hope that this brief snapshot from the workshop will come in handy for you! Best of luck in your approaches to collaboration and please share your success stories with us on this blog! Stories of ‘not so successful’ collaboration are also welcome. We hope to see you at the future RMeS events.

Relevant literature

Wagemans, A., & Witschge, T. (2019). Examining innovation as process: Action research in journalism studies. Convergence. https://doi.org/10.1177/1354856519834880

Rashid Gabdulhakov Portrait (Vertical Broad)


Rashid Gabdulhakov is a PhD Candidate at the Department of Media and Communication of Erasmus School of History Culture and Communication.

Supervised by Dr Daniel Trottier and Professor Susanne Janssen, Rashid is investigating vigilante acts in the digital domain as part of the ‘Digital Vigilantism: Mapping the terrain and assessing societal impact’ project funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO)