Theory and History of Media

  • Founded
  • Seminar Number

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 U.S. to 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.

Past Schedules

2009-2010: Archaeology of Media and Its Futures
2010-2011: Medium Histories
2011-2012: Aesthetics and Technology


Professor Noam Elcott

Professor Felicity Scott

Elliot Sturtevant

Meeting dates and locations are subject to change. Please confirm details with the seminar rapporteur.



7:00 PM


Notes: SPECIAL CONFERENCE 9/29-10/1/2016
10/27/2016 Faculty House, Columbia University
7:30 PM
Panel Discussion of New Book and Book-Signing: Film History as Media Archaeology - Tracking Digital Cinema (Amsterdam University Press, 2016)
Thomas P Elsaesser, University of Amsterdam and Columbia University

Respondent: Charles Musser, Yale University

Respondent: Noam Elcott, Columbia University

Respondent: Nicholas Baer, Purchase College, SUNY

Notes: Joint Meeting with the University Seminar on Sites of Cinema
11/21/2016 Art History Department, Columbia University
7:00 PM


12/05/2016 Art History Department, Columbia University
7:00 PM


02/06/2017 Art History Department, Columbia University
7:00 PM


03/27/2017 Art History Department, Columbia University
7:00 PM


04/03/2017 Art History Department, Columbia University
7:00 PM


04/17/2017 Art History Department, Columbia University
7:00 PM