RMeS Winter School & Graduate Symposium 2017-18

URBAN FRICTION | the [urban interfaces] graduate seminar 2017-2018

Seminars: 8 November 2017, 31 January, 28 February, 9 May 2018 (15.00-17.00)
Workshop: two-day “pressure cooker” workshop: February 27-28
Venue: Parnassos, Kruisstraat 201, Utrecht.
Organization: Nanna Verhoeff, Michiel de Lange, Sigrid Merx, Hira Sheikh
Registration via: RMeS-fgw@uva.nl
Please be sure to specify your master programme, national research school and university


Urban Friction Flyer
Urban Friction Poster

Urban processes have been impacted by frictions all throughout history. The remarkable pace and dynamics of the current phase of global urbanization in the age of mediatization, datafication, and pervasive connectivity suggest a new age where insular, political boundaries have come to shift radically. Perhaps to a larger extent than before, people are identifying as global citizens. However, as a result of this spatial accumulation social, political and cultural frictions within our cities manifest themselves on a wide scale. In this year’s [urban interfaces] graduate seminar series we open up a forum to debate and inquire about contemporary frictions being experienced in urban cities, namely:

  • Civic Empowerment and “Right to the City”
  • Mobility and Migration
  • Urban Institutions and Smart Platforms

We intent to question these frictions from a critical, yet optimistic perspective. Frictions can be both obstructive and productive and, and we aim to disclose this paradox and approach frictions as a prospect to discuss their positive potential for urban culture and society. This seminar series proposes a framework to think about urban frictions, and about how urban media, art and performance as interventions in our cities’ public spaces can productively address these frictions. In each session, we will focus on the temporality and performativity of media, art and performance, and the ambitions of the design of “frictional” urban interfaces as a form of critical making.

The seminar is open for all. Research Master Students can earn 4 ECTS. The workload consists of:

  • Attending and preparing for the readings before each seminar
  • A final reflection, in one of the following formats: a short exploratory paper, a critical essay, an interview, a reading report or review of an event. Upon review, the reflection can be published on the [urban interfaces] online library.

Please contact the organizers (n.verhoeff@uu.nl  | m.l.delange@uu.nl | s.merx@uu.nl) for further details.


Masterclass: Helen Nissenbaum (NYU) on Privacy as Contextual Integrity

Date: 11 October, 10-13hrs. (includes lunch)
Venue: University of Amsterdam, Roeterseiland, REC C10.20
Open to: PhD Candidates and RMA students who are a member of a Dutch Graduate Research School (onderzoekschool).
Credits: 1EC
Coordination: Marijn Sax, M.Sax@uva.nl
Registration: Max number of participants: 5
Space is limited and registration is required.
Register with RMeS by 1 October.

THE MASTERCLASS IS FULLY BOOKED, please send us an e-mail with your name, university and research school. We will put you on our waiting list.
Helen Nissenbaum’s theory of contextual integrity is arguably the most influential theory of privacy of the last decade. Its account of privacy describes its nature; it also offers normative foundations for its value to individuals and societies. Nissenbaum’s theory of contextual integrity seeks a theoretical understanding of privacy not only for the sake of theory, but also to address real world threats posed by deployments of digital technologies. As a result, privacy as contextual integrity is highly relevant to a range of disciplines working on questions of privacy, including law and policy, social sciences, and technology design. In this masterclass we will, together with Professor Nissenbaum, explore the framework of contextual integrity and its application to real life cases.


Masterclass: ‘Making Interactive Narrative’ with Prof. Janet Murray (Georgia Tech)

Date: 29 September 2017
Time: 14:00 – 17:00 (TBC)
Venue: Utrecht University, Parnassos, Kruisstraat 201, Utrecht
Open to: PhD Candidates and RMA students who are a member of a Dutch Graduate Research School (onderzoekschool).
Credits: 1EC
Coordination: Michiel de Lange (UU), Nanna Verhoeff (UU)
Register before: 25 Sept 2017
Maximum participants in the event: 25 (on first-come basis)

This masterclass with renowned scholar and interaction designer Janet Murray will explore how interactive narratives can help to create engaging experiences, and support critical and problem-solving capacities.

Janet H. Murray’s seminal book Hamlet on the Holodeck: The Future of Narrative in Cyberspace (1997) has been an essential read for everyone interesting in the future of storytelling through digital media. Her work has been critical in establishing the foundational thinking about the potential of games as storytelling platforms within the then emerging field of game studies. Recently, an updated version of Hamlet on the Holodeck was released which renewed a long-lasting discussion on the relationship between games and narratives, showing that the book’s concepts are still seen as both relevant and controversial. As an internationally recognized interaction designer, Murray kept pushing boundaries of digital media’s potential resulting in the book Inventing the Medium: Principles of Interaction Design as a Cultural Practice (2011), hailed by Henry Jenkins as “an epic accomplishment, one which we will all be mining for years to come”. Murray currently is Ivan Allen College Dean’s Professor at the School of Literature, Communication, and Culture, Georgia Institute of Technology.

The Masterclass is hosted by Utrecht University’s expertise centre Co.Laborations; the Media, Arts, and Performance Studies RMA program, and kindly supported by RMeS.


14:00 Welcome

14:10 Short introduction Janet Murray about interactive narrative

14:30 Students will work in teams on a concept and/or rough prototype of an interactive narrative, under guidance of Janet Murray, Nanna Verhoeff, and Michiel de Lange.

16:00 Round of public presentations + short comments and reflections by Janet Murray.

17:00 Closing

Preparation and readings:


Credits & certificate:

Certificates of participation and credits are available after the event. Event coordinators will decide whether the participant has fulfilled all requirements for the ECTS. Note: the certificate itself is not valid as ECTS, you need to validate it yourself at your local Graduate School.


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