RMeS Summer School 2021: Media, Inequalities and Social Change

RMeS Summer School 2021
Media, Inequalities and Social Change
Current and Emerging approaches to Social In-/Exclusion in Media Studies

When? 21, 22 & 23 June 2021
  Erasmus University Rotterdam – Online
Organizers?  Dr. Isabel Awad and  Prof. dr. Susanne Janssen (EUR)
For? PhD Candidates and Research master students who are a member of a Dutch Graduate Research School (onderzoekschool). Students who are members of RMeS will have first access.
Confirmed keynote speakers?. Prof.dr. Ayona Datta, Dr. Gavan Titley, Dr.Saskia Witteborn
Lecturers? Dr. Amanda Alencar, Dr. Isabel Awad,  Dr. Jiska Engelbert, Dr. Melodine Sommier, Prof.dr. Jacco van Sterkenburg, Dr. Daniel Trottier
Registration: Register before June 1, 2021.
When registering, please specify if you intend to obtain 2 or 5 EC.

In media studies—like in society at large—social in/exclusion is not a new phenomenon, but one that has gained extraordinary attention and urgency in the last years. Worldwide, we have witnessed unprecedented protests against patriarchism and racism, including the Black Lives Matter and the #MeToo movements. We have seen renewed efforts to both defend and to challenge territorial borders, as well as national, ethnic, and gender identities. While Covid-19 may have reduced the visibility of some of these movements on streets and other (unmediated) public spaces, it has also underscored the social inequalities driving them. Across national contexts, the costs of the pandemic have been markedly uneven: death rates are higher among already marginalized social groups; the emotional and work load associated to lockdowns tends to be heavier on women than on men; the world’s richest individuals have become even richer, while millions of middle and working class people have lost their job and/or a significant part of their income.

The media are not only key platforms to make inequalities visible and debatable, but also –probably now more than ever—crucial institutions in the configuration and (re)distribution of power in society. Thus, for example, a protest without hashtags has become practically unconceivable, the threshold for producing and disseminating mediated-content has never been so low, and digital technologies appear to be the key to access education, housing and work. Simultaneously, however, Amazon, Google, Facebook, and other digital companies accumulate unprecedented wealth and (algorithmic) tools that allow for concealed, but powerful forms of discrimination, while they dominate debates about the social divides that matter and the (digital) solutions to bridge them.

This Summer School inquires into the theoretical and methodological tools Media Studies has and needs in order to better understand and study these phenomena. The sessions will engage students into this critical reflection by focusing on different spheres of media practice and representation, as well as a wide range of social exclusions and efforts to overcome them.

Preliminary program

Each day of the Summer School has a specific focus; its sessions are structured accordingly. Day 1’s keynote and two interactive sessions offer a rather theoretical and normative approach to (practices of) representation in relation to social in-/exclusion, as well as implications for their study. In day 2 students choose between two possible workshops. In smaller groups, they will have the opportunity to gain more specific insights and some hand-on experience into two specific, highly topical areas of research into the role of media in social in/exclusion. That day’s keynote will further strengthen the links between theory and research practices. Finally, on day 3, two sessions and a keynote will focus on emerging media technologies and innovative approaches to study existing and possible relations between the digital, power inequalities and social change. Additional interactive sessions are meant to strengthen group dynamics and facilitate more informal exchanges among students and between them and lecturers.

Monday 21 June 2021

09.30-10.15: Welcome and introductions
10.30-12.00: Session IPractices and politics for the representation of inequality
12.00-13.30: Break
13.30-15.30: Session 2 – Moving away from methodological nationalism: How (not) to study cultural representations
15.30-16.00: Break
16.00-17.00: Keynote 1 Gavan Titley
17.00-18.00: Social event

Tuesday 22 June 2021

09.30-10.30 Keynote 2  Saskia WittebornMigration and technology research revisited: Theoretical challenges and opportunities
10.30-11.00 Break
11.00-12.30 Session 3: Workshop 3A or 3B
12.30-13.30 Break
13.30-15.00 Session 3: Workshop 3A or 3B (continued)

Wednesday 23 June 2021

10.00-11.00: Keynote 3  Ayona DattaThick time’: Experiments with feminist urban future in COVID19 community podcasts
11.00-11.30: Break
11.30-13.00: Session 4  – Digital vigilantism, mediated visibility and their impacts on marginalized communities
13.00-14.00: Break
14.00-15.30: Session 5 – Technologies as discourse; discourse as technologies
15.30-16.00: Break
16.00-17.00: Closing session

Please find the RMES summer school preliminary programme here .

RMeS Workshop Transmedia Memory: New Collisions between Media and Memory Studies

Workshop organized by Dr Rik Spanjers (UU), within the context of the RMeS PhD Workshop Grant

Date: Friday, June 11th 2021
Time: 13:00-17:00
Location: Online (ZOOM)
Open to: PhD’s and research master students, max 25 participants
Organizer: Dr. Rik Spanjers
Keynote Speakers: Prof. Dr. Astrid Erll & Dr. Dan Hassler-Forest
Register via the website.

Memory Studies has long recognized the importance of media in the production of cultural memory. Following the medial turn within memory studies in the 00’s, many scholars began researching the impact that specific media have on the remembrance of a host of different pasts. While memory researchers around the world were specializing in the relation of memory to the specificities of one or the other medium, however, the media landscape shifted, or, maybe more accurately, began to be seen by scholars in a different light.

Instead of being divided along the lines of different traditional media striving for their own specific perspective on the past, historical narratives are now often told by combinations of different media. Moreover, many of the media that were subjected to the scrutiny of scholars―comics, games, theatre, and mobile phone applications, for example―were shown to be unique more because of the ways in which they combined modes of representation than because they offered a uniquely specific perspective on the past. The impact of transmedia storytelling on societies’ remembrance of their past, however, remains a largely uncharted territory, even though the conscious application of transmedia storytelling strategies has become part of the repertoire of memory professionals.

In this workshop, we will draw on the perspectives of a Transmedia Storytelling and a Memory Studies specialist to investigate where and how these fields of study meet. Central questions to the proposed discussion are:

  • Can the interaction between media and memory be rethought—not along the lines of medium specificity, but alongside transmediality?
  • In what ways has the mediatization of memory always been, accidentally or consciously, transmedial?
  • In what ways and in what cases have memory institutions or professionals purposefully made use of transmedia storytelling strategies in their attempts to draw pasts into the present, and how does this relate to the increased use of cultural memory for nation/region and/or citybranding?

The workshop will consist of an online roundtable event and workshop. During the roundtable, Rik Spanjers will interview Astrid Erll and Dan Hassler-Forest. For the workshop, attendees are encouraged to bring in their own case studies in the field of transmedia memory to discuss with the experts.

The workshop is open to PhD’s and Research Masters Students. After enrollment, attendees are asked to do preparatory reading and to submit a case study for discussion during the workshop.

Prescribed reading:


  • Erll, Astrid. “Memory and Culture: A Semiotic Mode.” In: Memory in Culture. Palgrave: 2011, pp. 96-112.
  • Erll, Astrid. “Media and Memory.” In: Memory in Culture. Palgrave: 2011, pp. 113-143.
  • Hassler-Forest, Dan. “Imaginary Empires: Transmedia World-Building and Global Capitalism.” In: Science Fiction, Fantasy and Politics: Transmedia World-Building Beyond Capitalism. Pp. 1-21.


  • Erll, Astrid. “Cultural Memory Studies: An Introduction.” In: Cultural Memory Studies: An International and Interdisciplinary Handbook. Edited by Erll, A. Nunning, A.,  Walter de Gruyter: 2008, pp. 1-18 (optional for those unfamiliar with Memory Studies)
  • Ramsay, Debra. “World War II as a Transmedia Structure.” In: American Media and the Memory of World War II. Routledge: 2015, pp. 36-82.
  • Harvey, Colin B. “Introduction: Frames of Reference.” In: Fantastic Transmedia: Narrative, Play, and Memory Across Science Fiction and Fantasy Storyworlds. Palgrave: 2015, pp. 1-11.

Dr. Rik Spanjers

Rik Spanjers is a teacher at Utrecht University and the Applied University Saxion. His research focus is the representation of history in popular culture. Currently, Rik Spanjers is finalizing a book publication based on his PhD called Comics Modes of World War II Representation and editing Key Terms in Comics Studies with Erin La Cour and Simon Grennan. His future research investigates the transmedial representation of Operation Market Garden in Arnhem.

Prof. Dr. Astrid Erll

Astrid Erll is Professor of Anglophone Literatures and Cultures at Goethe-University Frankfurt. She has worked on German, British, South Asian, American, and South African literatures and media cultures. Her research interests include literary history (focus on 19th-21st centuries), media history (focus on film and photography), English and comparative literature, cultural theory, media theory, narratology, transcultural studies and – last not least – memory studies.

Dr. Dan Hassler-Forest

Dan Hassler-Forest works as Assistant Professor of Media and Cultural Studies at Utrecht University. He has published books and articles on superhero movies, comics, transmedia storytelling, adaptation studies, critical theory, and zombies. He is currently working on two book projects on Afrofuturism and racial capitalism.

Prof. dr. Susan Aasman benoemd tot hoogleraar Digital Humanities

Prof. dr. Susan Aasman is benoemd tot hoogleraar Digital Humanities. Haar vakgebied is mediageschiedenis, waaronder amateur media praktijken, documentairegeschiedenis en de opkomende domeinen internetgeschiedenis en web archeologie. Sinds 2016 is Aasman directeur van het Centre for Digital Humanities. In die hoedanigheid heeft zij het centrum met succes uitgebouwd tot een platform voor innovatief onderzoek. In de loop der jaren organiseerde ze talrijke workshops en evenementen om een stimulerende interdisciplinaire onderzoeksomgeving op te zetten. In nauwe samenwerking met collega’s van de studies Informatiekunde en Media Studies, maar ook Archeologie en Kunst, Cultuur en Media, ontwikkelde ze de master (en minor) track Digital Humanities. In deze interdisciplinaire track staan computationele vaardigheden, data-analyse en kritische theorieën centraal.

Prof. dr. Susan Aasman

In het verleden was Aasman als mede-aanvrager en senior onderzoeker betrokken bij het NWO Vrije Competitieprogramma “Changing Platforms of Ritualized Memory Practices. The Cultural Dynamics of Home Movies”. Ze publiceerde in TMG/Journal for Media History, VIEW, Screen en was editor van het boek “Materializing Memories: Dispositifs, Generations, Amateurs” (Bloomsbury, 2018) en co-auteur van “Amateur Media and Participatory Culture: Film, Video and Digital Media” (Routledge 2019).

Volgens Aasman is het cruciaal voor onderzoekers en studenten om te leren omgaan met gedigitaliseerde data (‘digitized data’), maar ook met data die hun oorsprong vinden in digitale vorm (‘born-digital data’). De enorme hoeveelheid digitale data die tegenwoordig beschikbaar is, opent nieuwe onderzoeksvragen en mogelijkheden voor real-life toepassingen binnen de Geesteswetenschappen.

Vacancy | The RMeS PhD Council needs you!

PhD Position

The RMeS PhD Council needs you!

The RMeS PhD Council is looking for a new member. The Council meets twice a year and organizes one network event each year. The Council represents the PhD community in the RMeS Advisory Board and gets to evaluate and discuss the direction of the Research School for Media Studies.

Joining the PhD Council is also a great way to get to know PhD’s from other universities in your field of study and broaden your network.

We are currently looking for a new member of the Council from:

  • Erasmus University Rotterdam
  • Maastricht University
  • Utrecht University

If you are interested in this position, or just want to ask some more questions, please let us know by sending an e-mail before April 23, 2021, with your name, current title of your PhD, and what year of your contract you are in, if applicable (no resume’s or motivation letters required) to rmes@rug.nl. Our aim is to choose a new member early May 2021.

In the case of more than one applicant for this position, the current PhD Council will select a council member from the candidates based on:

  1. Research subject (we aim to have council members from as wide a range of different areas of media studies as possible);
  2. Diversity (we aim to have a council that represents the PhD community as best as possible);
  3. Phase of PhD (ideally new members would be able to join the council for at least a year);
  4. Type of contract (we aim to have the council represent the different kinds of PhD’s in RMeS (inside/outside-PhD’s)).

We hope to hear from you.

RMeS PhD Council

RMeS RMa Course: Trending Topics – Engaging Objects

When? 12, 19 & 26 February, 5 March 13.00 – 17.00 / presentation day: 19 March 2021 12.00 – 18.00 / deadline paper: Mid April (tbc)
Where? University of Amsterdam, ONLINE
Coordinator? Dr Maryn Wilkinson (UvA)
Guest lectures by?Eliza Steinbock (UL), Etienne Augé (EUR), Markus Stauff (UvA), Marek Jancovic (VU), Sal Hagen (UvA), Clemens Apprich (RUG), Stijn Postema (UvA), David Cheruiyot (RUG)
Organisation? RMeS
For? First and second year RMa students in Media Studies, who are a member of a Dutch Graduate Research School (onderzoekschool). Students who are members of RMeS will have first access. RMeS staff and PhD researchers are welcome to sit in on specific sessions; PhD’s who are interested, can send an e-mail to RMeS if you intend to attend one or more seminar sessions: rmes-fgw@uva.nl.

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

General description:

Each spring, the Research School for Media Studies offers a Trending Topics course where faculty members from eight participating universities (UvA, UU, VU, EUR, UL, UM, RUG, RUN) present the latest research in their fields of interest through a series of lectures and workshops. The course invites RMA students to participate in an international, cutting edge research environment, while earning credits towards their degree. It presents a unique opportunity to get to know other students and leading academics from all over The Netherlands, in an open setting of engaging and ambitious exchange that would prove particularly fruitful for students who are aspiring to pursue a future career in academic research or teaching. All eight universities accept the credits earned in this module.

The field of media studies today is decreasingly tied to specific media types (film, television, or digital media) or practices (e.g. journalism), and instead often turns towards the areas of interaction between them, and their shared concepts and ideas. Larger trends such as globalisation, digitisation and convergence have prompted researchers to study the complex interrelation of technological changes and media content, as well as the new relations between users and producers, while different modes of media consumption have brought about new areas for aesthetics and politics that continue to require intense critical enquiry. These crossovers are both theoretically and methodologically challenging. Moreover, it requires us to rethink our engagement with specific media objects, and our critical analysis skills. Close reading remains incredibly important, but it can no longer stay isolated. In order to improve and enrich our understanding of the media objects we engage in our research, it is important to understand where different perspectives add to, overlap, or digress from one another.

In the ‘Trending Topics – Engaging Objects’ course, the lecture sessions will each take a specific media objects as a primary case study (from the field of film, television, digital media, and journalism studies), and bring two guest lecturers and their respective areas of expertise into dialogue about their objects. Each afternoon will be dedicated to the analysis, research and discussion of specific media objects. A fifth session revolves around student presentations in preparation of their final written assignment. All sessions, assignments, readings and preparatory work will be supervised and marked by dr. Maryn Wilkinson (UvA), the coordinator of the course. The grading will be based on both the presentation (30%) and the final written assignment (70%).




13.00-17.00 on Friday, February 12th, 2021:
Thinking through aesthetics and media ‘futures’

  • Eliza Steinbock (UL)- The Riotous State of Trans Visual Culture
  • Etienne Augé (EUR) – Futures and academia

13.00-17.00 on Friday, February 19th, 2021:
Rethinking formats

  • Markus Stauff (UvA) – Formats and Forensics: Creativity and Restraint in Sports’ Visual Culture 
  • Marek Jancovic (VU) – The Format as a Mask: Tracking Online Reformatting Practices

13.00-17.00 on Friday, February 26th, 2021:
New reflections on social media use

  • Sal Hagen (UvA) – /us/ and (((them))): Repurposing memes to study radical online subcultures
  • Clemens Apprich (RUG)– Pattern Discrimination: Data, Information, Knowledge

13.00-17.00 on Friday, March 5th, 2021:
New directions in journalism

  • Stijn Postema (UvA) – Artistic Journalism
  • David Cheruiyot (RUG) – One world, one journalism risk? The rise of digital media criticism