Nanna Verhoeff appointed as professor Screen Cultures & Society

As of 1 September 2020, Dr Nanna Verhoeff (Media and Culture Studies) will be appointed Professor of Screen Cultures and Society at the Faculty of Humanities.

Screen Cultures and Society

The chair of Screen Cultures and Society focuses on the wide diversity of screen technologies and practices, and their role within culture and society. This field is approached from a combination of historical, theoretical and media comparative perspectives on processes of change and transition. The focus will be on the impact of mediatization, digitization and datafication on (urban) public spaces, specifically on how screens shape situated experiences, encounters, interactions and relations within these spaces. With this specialization, the chair connects to international developments within screen studies, digital media studies and cultural analysis

Nanna Verhoeff

Nanna Verhoeff publishes on various screen media such as (early) cinema, mobile screen media, art installations, urban screens and media architecture. She is program coordinator of the Research MA Media, Art & Performance Studies, initiator of the research group [urban interfaces] and participant in the research platform Transmission in Motion. For the Faculty of Humanities, Verhoeff has co-initiated the ​Creative Humanities Academy​ – a LifeLong Learning infrastructure for post-academic education for arts and culture professionals.

How to work with pleasure in times of corona by Bernadette Kester (EUR)

—originally posted at— 

This is a blog post written by Bernadette Kester she is a senior Assistant Professor in the Department of Media & Communication at Erasmus University. Her teaching and research activities lie in the fields of journalism studies and media and representation. Currently she works on publications about the coping strategies of war journalists; and the well-being of foreign correspondents and journalists in general.

How to work with pleasure in times of corona

The global pandemic of COVID-19 has dramatically transformed our everyday realities. Such significant changes inevitably affected our approaches in academic work. With (even greater) uncertainty  about the future and merging of office/home environments, finding focus can be rather challenging. We have reached out to our Confidential Counsellor and a qualified Meditation Teacher, Dr Bernadette Kester for some advice and useful tools in battling distractions. Below you will find Bernadette’s message. The PhD Club of ERMeCC is very grateful for your time and expertise, Bernadette!

First of all, thank you for inviting me to contribute to your blog with a piece on ‘how to work with pleasure (in times of corona)?’. Indeed, I altered the title… but to me it sounds better than ‘how to prevent stress?’. How you formulate what your circumstances are, how you feel, what you would like to accomplish, what your ideal work situation would be, etc. matters a lot. Language matters, language constructs our reality, at least it influences how we experience our reality. It seems our brain doesn’t respond well to negatively formulated demands or wishes. So instead of saying ‘I don’t want to eat chocolate so much’, it usually works better and more stimulating to say ‘I want to eat more healthy food’. In our case, it’s most of all not about the wish ‘not wanting to feel stressed or frightened or worried’ but about the question ‘How could I learn to work with pleasure (under the circumstances)?’. It boils down to your main question ‘How to stay focused?’. Indeed, having a focus, and being focused in your (life and) work, generates enormous pleasure.

  • Formulate your wishes and your aspirations positively
  • Contemplate on the question of what it means to work with pleasure. How does that look for you? What would your ideal conditions be? Which of these conditions are realisable (given the circumstances)?

In order to feel balanced and well we need to know (and we usually do know) how to recharge ourselves, we (usually) also know what our goals are (short and long term), and we have learned how to keep strong ties with the people around us. Under the given circumstances the first and the last condition have become more complicated. Not being able to go to the pub for relaxing and seeing your friends can bring about feelings of loneliness and isolation. Try to zoom out and consider this situation as temporary. Such an approach has been widely propagated these days, but it is actually true and it offers some opportunities! It opens the road to the most important thing in life: to become friends with yourself or to feel at home with yourself! Sounds perhaps a bit woolly for some of you, but I discovered myself how important this actually is. How often are we unsatisfied with ourselves, criticizing ourselves, being very strict to ourselves, et cetera? And a lot of this happens unconsciously. Be as kind to yourself as you would be to your dearest friend. Talk to yourself, keep a diary, learn to know yourself (better). Be more encouraging and lenient to yourself. This intimate relationship lasts a lifelong, so you better start to value it. If the basis is okay, the rest is a ‘piece of cake’. But if the basis doesn’t feel okay yet, start with the cake (see below)!

  • Take on a different perspective on your social reality: zoom out every now and then
  • Be as kind to yourself as you would be to your dearest friend

Let’s return to our main question: How to work with pleasure?

Want to read more? Here you find the complete blog post, including practical tips. 


Virtual defence and real memories: Doing academia in times of CODIV-19 pandemic

—originally posted at—

PhD defence Min Xu | Erasmus University Rotterdam

“While being familiar with one-on-one video chat, I could only imagine what a virtual PhD defence would be like. After all, it turned out to be a memorable experience”. Dr. Min Xu defended her PhD titled “Getting close to the media world: An ethnographic analysis of everyday encounters with the film industry in contemporary China”. What makes her defence especially unique is the fact that it was done entirely online. In this interview, Min shares her story with us.

Rashid: Dear Min, congratulations on your defence! On behalf of the PhD Club, I can say that we are so happy for you and very proud! I know that your experience was quite unusual, you defended entirely online. How fascinating! I have so many questions, but first of all, where were you physically during the defence? Were you in Rotterdam?

Min: Thank you very much, Rashid. I was at home in Shanghai, China. There were travel restrictions to the Netherlands. So, I had to cancel the trip…

Rashid: Were you given a choice between defending online now or doing it at the later stage in the traditional way?

Min: Yes, there were two options. But postponing to autumn would have made it difficult to start a job at a university in China this year. To avoid an unexpected gap year, I chose to defend online.

Rashid: And how did you prepare for the defence?

Min: Before the defence, we held two test sessions which helped me a lot. The pedel (master of ceremonies during PhD defences in the Netherlands) organised a session for the committee and myself to test if video conferencing worked properly for everyone, and to try out the ‘breakout rooms’ feature for the discussions of the committee before and after the defence. At this point, I got the chance to say ‘hello’ to the committee. During the meeting we laughed while experimenting with the virtual background. After this session, I was prepared in technical terms. 

Mentally, I became more motivated after the mock defence given by the members of our amazing research group. They gave me important questions to ponder and wonderful suggestions to improve my answers and speech. Their video conferencing presentation tips, for example, included adjusting the slides to leave space for the video windows, and balancing time duration for each slide, etc. These tips were necessary for the defence in an entirely virtual environment.

Rashid: What did you feel during the defence?

Min: By the time the defence happened, I had been indoors most of the time for more than two and a half months. It seemed like such a sudden change to wear a suit in the apartment and to communicate for an hour. The defence was intensive, and it took me a while to get into the flow.

If I compared a virtual defence experience with an on-site one, the major difference I felt is that the transition from one activity to another happened swiftly in the virtual setting. For example, before the defence, I entered a ‘room’ and spoke with the pedel. After a chat, suddenly, many video windows appeared on my screen. I saw the committee, all of them, right in front of me. This change of the setting happened in the blink of an eye, unlike physically walking from one room to another.

Another feeling was about staying focused. Looking back, I think that posture mattered. When I sat up straight and saw everyone all at once, it was easier to notice any movement in any given video window. When I leaned forward to look at a specific area on the screen, it was easier to be more focused.  

Rashid: Did the pedel announce “Hora est” and ring the bells of the mace?

Min: Yes, the pedel was still on campus. The activities and procedures for the online defence were the same as on-site. That’s very impressive.

Rashid: Wow, what an experience! And did you have your paranymths to support you or are they not required in the online defence?

Min: They were not required as the ceremony aspect is not quite the same, I guess. But maybe if the candidate asks, it would still be possible to have paranymphs.

Rashid: Are you satisfied with the online defence experience?

Min: It was a unique experience. The committee members were very nice and patient. The pedel was very friendly and thoughtful.

Rashid: How did you celebrate your defence? Did you have a virtual party?

Min: I celebrated with my parents. Also, my supervisors and friends from the research group wrote to me. They made my day. Now I’m having feelings of nostalgia, and have been constantly recalling the memories of the past few years. I couldn’t have made the journey without my supervisors and our research group.

Rashid: And now that you have obtained the “Dr” title, what are you up to?

Min: I’m reading for fun. Also, I’m renovating and decorating my place, which includes experimenting with wallpaper and paint, haha, something I won’t have time for after starting an academic job in China next semester.

Rashid: Thank you so much for this fascinating story, Min! Best of luck in your academic career and the remodelling hobby. Please visit us when the skies open up again and we can have some kaude biertjes en bitterballen in the Pavilion!

Min: Thank you, Rashid!

More information
Min Xu defended her PhD titled “Getting close to the media world: An ethnographic analysis of everyday encounters with the film industry in contemporary China”. Her research interests include media encounters, cultural events, and special interest tourism.

PhD Defence: Min Xu – Getting Close to the Media World

9 April 2020 | Erasmus University Rotterdam
On Thursday 9 April 2020, Min Xu defended her PhD dissertation, entitled: ‘Getting Close to the Media World: An ethnographic analysis of everyday encounters with the film industry in contemporary China’.
Promotor: Prof.dr. S.L. Reijnders | Co-promotor: Dr. S. Kim

This dissertation aims to provide a multi-sided perspective on encounters between ordinary people and the film industry, focusing in particular on media encounters in China. It poses the following main research question: What is the role and significance of ‘unmediated’ encounters with the media world in contemporary Chinese society? The dissertation investigates not only how these media encounters are organised and experienced, but also the wider impacts of this cultural phenomenon. Why focus on China? The Chinese film industry has experienced phenomenal growth in the last decade and is expected to become the world’s largest market in box office revenue and audience numbers by late 2020 (Deloitte, 2017). Likewise, opportunities for these Chinese audiences to encounter media people face-to-face have greatly increased in the past five years. However, despite the prevalence and popularity of such practices, media encounters remain an underexplored topic within Chinese media studies. Understanding the cultural phenomenon of media encounters in China can shed light on this booming film industry from a unique perspective.

Due to the coronavirus, Min Xu defended her thesis online. Here you’ll find a blogpost on How she expereinced it: Virtual defence and real memories: Doing academia in times of CODIV-19 pandemic


Dr. Thomas Poell is benoemd tot hoogleraar Data, Culture & Institutions

— afbeelding: Thomas Poell. Foto: Eduard Lampe—

Dr. Thomas Poell is benoemd tot hoogleraar Data, Culture & Institutions aan de Faculteit der Geesteswetenschappen van de Universiteit van Amsterdam

In zijn onderzoek richt Thomas Poell zich op de maatschappelijke gevolgen van de opkomst van digitale platformen als Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Spotify, Airbnb en Uber. Hij publiceerde veelvuldig over sociale media en protest in Canada, Egypte, Tunesië, India en China. De laatste jaren deed hij onderzoek naar de ontwikkeling van de platformsamenleving.

Binnen de nieuwe leerstoel richt Poell zich op de digitalisering van culturele instituties. Hij doet dit in het licht van de enorme toename van data, het groeiende belang van AI en de opkomst van machtige platformbedrijven. Deze ontwikkelingen zijn van grote invloed op de organisatie en maatschappelijke rol van musea, bibliotheken en archieven en hebben fundamentele gevolgen voor de culturele industrieën, van televisie en nieuws tot games en muziek.

Over Thomas Poell

Poell is sinds 2009 verbonden aan de UvA als universitair (hoofd-)docent Mediastudies. Hij is co-directeur van het nieuwe UvA Research Priority Area Global Digital Cultures en maakt deel uit van het team Audiovisuele Data en Mediastudies van de onderzoeksinfrastructuur CLARIAH (NWO). Poell verwierf diverse onderzoekssubsidies, waaronder een NWO Open Competitie beurs voor het project The Platformization of the Global Sex Industry (2020-2025).

Poell is coauteur van The Platform Society (Oxford University Press, 2018) met José van Dijck en Martijn de Waal en van het te verschijnen Platforms and Cultural Production (Polity, 2021) met David Nieborg en Brooke Erin Duffy. Verder is hij redacteur van The Sage Handbook of Social Media (Sage, 2018), Social Media Materialities and Protest (Routledge, 2018) en Global Cultures of Contestation (Palgrave, 2017).