Theory and History of Media

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The University Seminar on the Theory and History of Media brings together scholars from the humanities and social sciences to examine emerging concepts in media theory.Media, in this conception, refers to material technologies that (re)produce, store, and transmit information—a conception broad enough that allows us to move from, say, the role of print technologies in early modern Europe, through spirit photography to the emergence of contemporary digital media.We are especially interested in the ways in which technologies shape and are shaped by cultural practices, and social sensibilities, and we consider a historical dimension as central to this effort.There is nothing so powerful in understanding the novelty and dynamism of contemporary media as looking at the introduction of earlier technologies whose technical and social influence was yet to be understood.At the same time, we are also committed to moving beyond the specifics of media in the incorporate the different histories and trajectories of media in Europe and elsewhere.Finally, we intend this to be beyond any one disciplinary approach and each year is organized around a specific theme that sets the frame for questions and conversation.

Professor Jane Gaines

Professor Brian Larkin

Alex Zivkovic



02/11/2019 832 Schermerhorn Hall, Columbia University
7:00 PM
Decolonize the Curriculum, Empty the Museum, All the Monuments Must Fall
Nicholas Mirzoeff, New York University

Respondent: Gil Hochberg, Columbia University

03/25/2019 832 Schermerhorn Hall, Columbia University
7:00 PM
Archiving Gestures: Reenactment and Documentation in Farah Saleh’s C.I.E and Arkadi Zaides’s Archive
Gil Hochberg, Columbia University

Respondent: Paul Scolieri, Barnard College, Columbia University

04/15/2019 832 Schermerhorn Hall, Columbia University
7:00 PM
Tiphaigne and Rétif: Cinema and Photography in a Racialized Cosmos
Christophe Wall-Romana, University of Minnesota

Respondent: Brandy Monk-Payton, Fordham University

04/29/2019 832 Schermerhorn Hall, Columbia University
7:00 PM
Wells and Totality
Sarah Cole, Columbia University

Respondent: Bruce Robbins, Columbia University