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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 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 Zeynep Çelik

Professor Ying Qian

Alex Zivkovic

All seminars will meet over Zoom for the 2020 fall semester. Meeting links provided upon RSVP. Meeting dates and times are subject to change. 

Meeting Schedule

10/09/2020 Online Meeting
4:00 PM
Knowledge and Mediation: Techne, Aesthetics, Politics

Notes: Workshop organized by Ying Qian and Takuya Tsunoda
10/26/2020 Online Meeting
7:00 PM

Zeynep Gürsel, Rutgers University

Respondent: Noam M. Elcott, Columbia University

11/30/2020 Online Meeting
7:00 PM

Winnie Wong, University of California, Berkeley

Respondent: Dennis Tenen, Columbia University