RMeS Summer School 2023: Imagophilia: Place, Politics, Passion

When: 19, 20 & 21 June 2023
 Leiden University
Organizers: Dr Peter Verstraten, Dr Ali Shobeiri, Dr Julian Ross, Dr Pepita Hesselberth, Dr Yasco Horsman
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.
ECTS 2 ECTS (for participation and attendance) / 5 ECTS (for participation, attendance and writing a 3500 word paper, see details below)
When registering, please specify if you intend to obtain 2 or 5 EC.

THE SUMMER SCHOOL 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.

Imagophilia speaks to our ineluctable and incessant love for images: a baffling fondness for storing them, recalling them, or at times monumentalizing them in our mind. Under the overarching umbrella of imagophilia, in this Summer School we want to explore the possessive and persuasive power of images, whether affectively localized in places or politically dispersed across spaces. Do we simply like images or are we haunted by their seductive and holding power? Are we, as W.J.T Mitchell posits, under their spell whether we admit it or not? Overarching topics like cinephilia, photophilia, logophilia, idolatry and bédéphilia, the theme of imagophilia addresses our fervid yet inexplicable endearment for images, whether they are verbal or mental, still or moving, metaphoric or metonymic, analogue or digital.

It is undeniable that images have managed to transport their riveting force from the analogue age to our contemporary digital era. If Jacques Aumont in his 1997 study The Image wondered what it means to see an image and how to classify it as art, current concerns rather relate images to platforms, piracy, and passion – from Instagram to audiovisual essays, from memes to newspaper photographs. With regards to film, the transition to the digital era has changed the nature of and discourse on cinephilia considerably (see for instance De Valck and Hagener; Balcerzak and Sperb). For an older generation, the place for cinephilia was fixed (the darkened auditorium of a movie theatre) and reflections on the topic were embedded in the perennial question of “what is cinema?”. The arrival of different carriers and means of circulation have challenged scholars to ask different questions – such as “where is cinema” and “whose cinema” and “what counts as cinema” fueling discussions on re-configurations of the cinematic in a global context in the age of digital networks (e.g. De Valck, Hagener, Hediger, Strohmeier). In a recent manifesto on cinephilia, Girish Shambu claimed that the old cinephilia was ‘private, personal, inward’, but the new cinephilia radiates outward. No matter how passionate our love for films, Shambu emphasizes, the new cinephilia is “fully in contact with its present global moment – that accompanies it, that moves and travels with it.”

Our passion for images also signals their apparent sacred power. Could the long history of image idolatry or deification therefore inform our attempt to understand imagophilia? From Marie-José Mondzain’s claim that contemporary visual culture in fact originated in the iconoclastic crisis of 10th century Byzantium, to critical essays on the difference between sacred and profane images in industrial modernity, there are many compelling approaches to imagophilia as a transcendent passion. Recent studies have furthermore emphasized the reparative powers of images as a ‘visual commons’, such as Nicholas Mirzoeff work on the activist uses of freely circulating shared images, or Hito Steyerl’s proposal to create alternative economies of images that break away from the idolatrous ‘rich images’ of the culture industry.

Organising team at Leiden University: Dr Peter Verstraten, Dr Ali Shobeiri, Dr Julian Ross, Dr Pepita Hesselberth, Dr Yasco Horsman


The Summer School features keynote lectures, master-classes and workshops by senior scholars

More information about the programme will be announced soon.

Information for RMA students

Research master students who are participating in the RMeS summer school have the option to

  1. actively participate in the two-day programme with workshops and lectures (see programme for more information). If the students fulfil all requirements, they will receive a certificate for 2 EC upon request.
    2. In addition to participating in the workshops and lectures on all three days, they can extend the credits to 5 EC by taking the workshop (TBA), and by pitching and then writing a full paper of 3,500 words.

More details will be published in due course

Certificates for PhD candidates

PhD candidates who participate in the summer school programme receive a certificate for 2 ECTS.