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

When? 6 April, 13 April, 20 April, 4 May and 18 May. 13:00-17:00
Where? Erasmus University Rotterdam
For? PhD Candidates and RMa Students
Credits? 6 ECTS
Coordination? Dr Payal Arora (Erasmus University Rotterdam – ERMeCC)

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 Blackboard and online resources


RMeS Summer School 2018: New Materialism

See Me, Feel Me, Touch Me: Material and Affective Turns in Media Studies

When? 20, 21 & 22 June 2018
Where? Radboud University Nijmegen
For? PhD Candidates and RMa Students
Organizers? Prof. Anneke Smelik (coordinator), Dr Christophe van Eecke, Dr Vincent Meelberg, Dr László Munteán, Dr Martijn Stevens and Lianne Toussaint.

THE SUMMER SCHOOL IS FULLY BOOKED, please send an e-mail with your name, university and research school to rmes-fgw@uva.nl. We will put you on our waiting list.

Confirmed speakers: Professor Sean Cubitt and Dr Carolyn Pedwell

The past ten years have yielded a variety of changes in media culture. Ever new technologies of online and off-line communication, Internet-based participatory communities, the rise of television as an art form, the increasing accessibility of VR glasses and personal drones, to name only a few, have engendered new modes of communication, entertainment, and engaging with technology. Simultaneously, traditional distinctions between the digital and the material, human and non-human have become ever more untenable. The RMeS Summer School seeks to address these pertinent issues by focusing on two major theoretical movements within the humanities and the social sciences in the past decade: the new-materialist turn and the affective turn. What are the implications of theories of new materialism and affect for media studies? In what ways do these two trends help us conceive of recent developments in both old and new media?

A first major thrust challenging the conceptual framework of the linguistic turn comes from an array of theories collectively known as the material turn. Revisiting conventional understandings of matter as socially constructed and inert, the material turn – and new materialism in particular – studies matter in terms of its agential potential, not simply constructed by but also constitutive of social and cultural practices. Second, there has been a surge of scholarly inquiry into dimensions of the human experience that cannot be solely grasped through the theoretical apparatus of the linguistic turn geared towards structures of discourse and representation. Scholarship conducted in the spirit of the so-called affective turn foregrounds affect, feeling, and emotion as constitutive forces of human and non-human actions and interrelations. Although often used interchangeably, the polyvalent body of work on affect, feeling, and emotion by neuroscientists, psychologists, social scientists and humanities researchers demonstrates the diversity of approaches to these phenomena while offering new venues of interdisciplinary scholarship. It is the combination of new materialism and affect theory, in particular, that may shed new light on how the agency of singular objects as well as the affective, social and material connections between various bodies, forces and spaces influence the ways in which human subjects experience, shape, and express their world and ideas. The RMeS Summer School aims to be such a venue for exploring the triangular interrelation of new materialism, affect, and media.

Organized by the Department of Cultural Studies of the Radboud University in Nijmegen.
Organizing team: Prof. Anneke Smelik (coordinator), Dr. Christophe van Eecke, Dr. Vincent Meelberg, Dr. László Munteán, Dr. Martijn Stevens, and Lianne Toussaint.


Wednesday 20 June 2018
Campus Radboud University Nijmegen

Welcome with coffee and tea

Opening by Prof. dr Anneke Smelik, Radboud University Nijmegen

10.30 – 11.30
Keynote lecture Prof. Sean Cubitt, Goldsmiths, University of London

11.30 – 12.30
Keynote lecture Prof. dr Anneke Smelik, Radboud University Nijmegen

12.30 – 13.00

13.00 – 14.00

14.00 – 18.00
Parallel Workshops, Grotiusgebouw

14.00 – 15.30
Choose first workshop

  1. Christophe van Eecke, Touching Images: The Ethics of the Gaze in Contemporary Photography
  2. Vincent Meelberg, Creating Sonic Experiences: Sound as Affective Material
  3. Martijn Stevens, Production matters
  4. Rob Voerman, TBA

15.30 – 16.00
Coffee and tea break

16.00 – 17.30
Choose second workshop (see above)   

18.15 21.30
Evening programme: An evening at LUX

Thursday, 21 June 2018
ArtEZ University of the Arts, Arnhem

Prof. dr Nishant Shah Introduction and framing the context | Prototyping for Survival

11.15 – 13.00
Prof. dr Danielle Bruggeman and Prof. dr Jeroen van den Eijnde | Experiences of design f(r)iction

13.00 – 14.00
Walking Lunch

14.00 – 15.45
Agnieszka Wolodzko | Science-Friction

15.45 – 16.30
Tea break and Performance

16.30– 17.15
Keynote lecture Iain Macdonald, ArtEZ University of the Arts  | A Future we don’t understand (yet)

17.15 – 17.30

17.30 Drinks

Friday 22 June 2018
Campus Radboud University Nijmegen

09.30                           |
Coffee and tea

10.00 – 11.00
Keynote lecture Dr Carolyn Pedwell, University of Kent

11.00 – 12.00
Keynote lecture Dr László Munteán, Radboud University Nijmegen

12.00 – 12.30

12.30 – 13.30
Lunch (for masterclass participants only)

13.30 – 15.00
Dr Maryn Wilkinson (UvA) and Dr László Munteán (RU): Master Class for RMA students who are planning to write a paper for the Summer School.



RMeS Seminar: “What, of Art, Belongs to the Present?”

When? February 2018, Exact dates see below
See below
Utrecht University / University of Amsterdam
PhD Candidates and RMa Students
Dr Rick Dolphijn (Utrecht University/Hong Kong University)

THE COURSE IS FULLY BOOKED, please send an e-mail to rmes-fgw@uva.nl with your name, university and research school. We will put you on our waiting list.

In cooperation with Sonic Acts as part of Re-Imagine Europe, co-funded by the Creative Europe programme of the European Union.

Together with literary theorist Timothy Morton, renown composer/performer Jennifer Walshe is working on a large-scale performance entitled Time: the Opera which will premiere in 2019. In this seminar, we will work closely together with both Walshe and Morton, exploring the key themes that matter to this project as they coincide with the urgencies of contemporary cultural theory (media studies, performance studies, sonic studies). This means we will not start with a notion of ‘time’, but rather with ‘resonance’, ‘matter-reality’, ‘the present versus the contemporary’ as well as ‘the actor’ (and her/his non-relation to the present). With the artist, we will engage in participatory research-creation meaning that we will read texts from Gilles Deleuze, Michel Serres, Brian Massumi, Isabelle Stengers and Timothy Morton and put these ideas to work in a series of events to take place at the Sonic Acts academy (Febuary, 2018).

During February, several small gettogethers will be arranged (sometimes with the artist or other guests) in which preliminary explorations will take place.

Preliminary programme:

Dr. Rick Dolphijn UU/HKU
Sonic Acts Academy

* This seminar is still being developed as the is to involve more artists (the structure (esp. the dates, the texts) will stay like this.

At the interstices of contemporary philosophy and contemporary art, we get together for a close reading seminar/experimental research lab that circles around conceptualisations of ‘time’in relation to what art can do. How can art intervene in the contemporary? What is the power of art in realizing a wholly other form of time? How is its resistance perpetual?

Feb 1. 10-13h. Utrecht University
Session 1: A Materialist Turn: Let the Earth Enter History

Feb 8. 10-13h. Utrecht University
Session 2: How Art Matters: the Seen and the Un(fore)seen

Feb 15. 10-13h. Utrecht University
Session 3: Eternal Objects…

Feb 23-25 Sonic Acts Academy Amsterdam (several locations)

  • Feb 23 14-17 University of Amsterdam: Session 4: Time, the Opera. A workshop with Jennifer Walshe
  • Feb 24-25 Sonic Acts Academy (Several Locations)
  • Feb 25 Research Lab on Time: What, of Art, Belongs to the Present? (Location to be announced)

RMeS Electives: Corporeal Literacy (Utrecht University)

When? Block 4 (23 April 2018 – 29 June 2018)
Where? Utrecht University
More information and registration

In this course, we will focus on movement and gesture as aspects of how we are corporeally literate that have for a long time been neglected in accounts of embodied meaning making but are currently gaining more prominence as the result of technological developments (movement becoming more and more part of what can be detected and shared by media as well as of ways of using media and interacting with them) and also the emergence of embodied, embedded and enactive understandings of perception and cognition. During the meetings we will discuss a panorama of historical and contemporary approaches to movement and gesture in relation to questions of (among others) affect, emotion, experience, spatiality, and memory. Students are invited to explore the potential of these readings for the analysis of encounters with objects, events and situations of different kinds.

Literacy often gets associated with words, with verbal language and books, but can also describe other reading skills, as, for example, in visual literacy. Corporeal literacy is a strategic term meant to make space for a further expansion of the notion of literacy to include our bodily engagement with what we find ourselves confronted with. New technological developments as well as increased insight in the performative, material, embodied, and enactive aspects of perception and cognition foreground the corporeal dimensions of how humans handle information and make sense of what they encounter. These developments require a reconsideration of our conceptions of (among others) perception, agency, and what it means to know, beyond the disembodied mind. Furthermore, our current situation in which technology plays an ever more prominent and active role in how things can be perceived and come to be known requires a rethinking the embodiment of cognition and intelligence beyond the human. This course explores the potential of new materialist, media archeological, posthuman performative, enactive and embodied approaches for the analysis and interpretation of encounters with media and performances of different kinds.

Career orientation:
The course trains skills in critical reading and analysis of media, art and performance objects and allows students to develop rhetorical argumentation, which can be applied to a variety of professional fields (cultural institutions, academia, education, etc.)

NOTE: This is not an RMeS core activity but an elective announced on this site solely for  your information. You should register for this course through the university that offers it, and the credits you will earn will also be given out by that university. If your program includes a requirement to earn credits from a national research school, the credits for this elective do not count towards that requirement. You may need to acquire the permission of your programme coordinator and/or board of examinations in order to participate and earn credits for this elective.

RMeS Electives: Urban Interfaces (Utrecht University)

When? Block 3 (05 February 2018 – 06 April 2018)
Where? Utrecht University
More information and registration

This course actively teams up with ongoing research of MCW’s research groep [urban interfaces]. [urban interfaces] investigates urban transformations and the role of mobile and locational art, media and performance in urban contexts.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, cultural researchers have been concerned with how transport and communication technologies, rapid urbanization and massive social upheavals impact social mobility, civic engagement and modes of belonging. Today, globalization, the spread of information technologies in the urban domain, and the debate on participatory culture and civic engagement spur a further mobilization of urban culture, identity and publics. Both scholars as well as artists and designers enquire into how urban spaces invite collaborative and playful practices of resistance, appropriation and/or engagement. By productively exploring mutual similarities and differences in concerns, methods, concepts, and skills, [urban interfaces] seeks to investigate urban transformations in a methodologically innovative manner.

Students will develop their own research in relation to current urban media, art and/or performance projects. In the course the potentials of collaborative research and of crossdisciplinary methodologies will be explored.

Career orientation:
The course actively engages students in ongoing research projects of the [urban interfaces] research group and current urban media, art and performance projects; students get acquainted with interdisciplinary approaches and crossdisciplinary collaborations with researchers, artists and designers relevant to the professional field of media, art and performance, and current cultural (urban) dynamics.


NOTE: This is not an RMeS core activity but an elective announced on this site solely for  your information. You should register for this course through the university that offers it, and the credits you will earn will also be given out by that university. If your program includes a requirement to earn credits from a national research school, the credits for this elective do not count towards that requirement. You may need to acquire the permission of your programme coordinator and/or board of examinations in order to participate and earn credits for this elective.