RMeS RMa Course: Trending Topics

When? 15 & 22 February, 1 & 8 March 13.00 – 17.00 / presentation day: 15 March 2019. 10.00 – 17.00 / deadline paper: date TBA
Where? University of Amsterdam
Coordinator? Dr Maryn Wilkinson (UvA)
Guest lectures by? TBA
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; please send an e-mail to RMeS if you intend to attend one or more seminar sessions: rmes-fgw@uva.nl.
Registration will open in September

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%).

Programme: TBA

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

When? 5 April, 12 April, 26 April, 3 May and 10 May. 13:00-17:00
Where? Erasmus University Rotterdam, Theil C1-4
For? PhD Candidates and RMa Students
Credits? 6 ECTS
Coordination? Dr Payal Arora (Erasmus University Rotterdam – ERMeCC)
Registration will open in September

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

PhD Defence Yu Sun

Engaging in politics: everyday political talk in online China

Date: 12th July, 2018
Time: 11:00
Venue: the Aula, Academy building (Broerstraat 5, University of Groningen)
Promotor: Prof. M.J. Broersma
Co-promotor: Dr T.S. Graham

On July 12, 2018 at 11:00,Yu Sun will defend her doctoral thesis, Engaging in politics: everyday political talk in online China.

Everyday online spaces may be the new and alternative places where people can talk about politics and engage in it. Accordingly, this study wonders how Chinese citizens’ everyday political talk in such spaces impacts their practice of citizenship and whether they will contribute to an active online public sphere in China.

This dissertation studies those small-scale interactions among ordinary citizens on the Chinese internet in the everyday life context. It shifts the focus to the citizen communications in internet-based everyday spaces beyond those traditional political spaces people join online. For this purpose, I study forums mixing politics with lifestyle issues or non-political online forums. Specifically, the study implies the approach of everyday political talk, which may serve as an alternative way to link Chinese citizens’ personal concerns to politics. Here, everyday political talk does not only imply mundane communicative practices per se but also bears the social-civic culture where those communicative actions take place. In other words, everyday political talk is situated in the local social-cultural context. By studying this, it is possible to probe into how citizens’ everyday life is interwoven with politics and how citizens think about and engage in politics in their lifeworld at the micro-level. Thus, it provides us opportunities to investigate the chances that everyday political talk opens up for the emergence of a public realm that cultivates and sustains a relatively autonomous space for new political formations in China.

PhD Defence Joëlle Swart (University of Groningen)

Date: June 28, 2018, 16.15hrs
Promotores: prof. dr Marcel Broersma (RUG) & prof. dr Irene Costera Meijer (VU); co-promotor: dr Chris Peters (Aalborg University Copenhagen)

On June 28, 2018 at 16:15, Joëlle Swart will defend her doctoral thesis, Haven’t you heard? Connecting through news and journalism in everyday life.

Educational Programme 2018-2019

We are currently finalizing our educational programme for 2018-2019. We expect to offer the following educational activities:

RMeS Winter School & Graduate Symposium (expected January/February 2019)
RMeS RMa Course: Trending Topics (expected February/March 2019)
RMeS RMa Course: Contemporary approaches to digital cultures: platforms, politics, performances and people (expected April/May 2019)
RMeS Summer School (expected June 2019)

Masterclasses will be announced during the academic year.

Full programme will be available by the end of August. Registration will open begin September.