RMeS RMa Course: Fake News, Conspiracy Theories, Disinformation and the Media

When? 30 April, 7, 21, 28 May & 4 June 2021
Where? Utrecht University, ONLINE
Course coordinator? Prof. dr Frank Kessler, Utrecht University
Guest lectures by?Daniel Cohnitz (UU), Bharath Ganesh (RUG), Koen Leurs (UU), Eugène Loos (UU), Ann Rigney (UU), Richard Rogers (UvA), Mirko Tobias Schäfer (UU), Nishant Shah (ArtEz) Klaas de Zwaan (UU)
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@rug.nl.

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

The current Covid-19 pandemic is yet another case of an event that has provoked the circulation of different types of misinformation, disinformation, conspiracy theories, suspicions and other forms of false, distorted or misleading reports – in short ‘fake news – spread via the entire range of media channels. On the other hand, the label ‘fake news’, has been used by Donald Trump to denounce reports about him and his politics in what he sees as hostile mainstream media. A 2018 handbook for journalists published by UNESCO actually warned against the term ‘fake news’ as “an oxymoron which lends itself to undermining the credibility of information”.

In this course, we will approach this cluster of terms referring to mediatized misleading content from different angles, both historically and conceptually, as a methodological y engage with and maybe a field of practical, activist, political intervention. Each session will be dedicated to one or more aspects of the topic and introduced by scholars working on these issues. Students will be invited to develop a case into a research paper.


30 April 2021:
Frank Kessler: Fake: A Historical Perspective
Klaas de Zwaan: Understanding WWI Film Propaganda

7 May 2021:
Eugène Loos: Fighting Fake News: A New Literacies Approach for Young People
Bharath Ganesh: Platforms, Racism, and the Governance of Disinformation

21 May 2021:
Richard Rogers: Mainstreaming the fringe: How misinformation propagates on social media
Mirko Tobias Schäfer: Fake News and Social Media

28 May 2021:
Daniel Cohnitz: The Epistemology of Conspiracy Theories
Ann Rigney: Down the Rabbit Hole: Conspiracy from a Narratological Perspective

4 June 2021:
Nishant Shah and Koen Leurs: Closing discussion: Really fake & critical media literacies