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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

Maria José de Abreu

Noam Elcott

Cecilia Santos

Meeting Schedule

10/24/2022 Schermerhorn 832, Columbia University
7:00 PM
Elayne Oliphant, NYU

Elaybne Olifante, NYU

11/14/2022 Schermerhorn 832, Columbia University
7:00 PM
"Neurophotography." Neural Networks and the Photographic Image
Antonio Somaini, Sorbonne Nouvelle Paris 3

Noam Elcott, Columbia University

12/05/2022 Schermerhorn 832, Columbia University
7:00 PM
Cyanide Dreams and the Redemption of Waste—Or, Snowballs in Hell
Rosalind Morris, Columbia University

Isabel Hofmeyr, University of the Witwatersrand and NYU

01/30/2023 Schermerhorn 930, Columbia University
6:00 PM
Bruce Conner's War Games
Maria Stavrinaki , Paris 1

Thomas Crow, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, NYU

02/27/2023 Schermerhorn 930, Columbia University
6:30 PM
Rumor and Media: Circulations, Credence, and Counter-Narratives
Stefan Andriopoulos, Columbia University

Rosalind Morris, Columbia University