3.22 Fields and Fragments of German Media Studies – from collective distraction to cultural techniques

Instructor: Steffen Krämer
Language of instruction:
English
Course type:
Subject course, B-Track
Contact hours:
48 (6 per day)
Course days
: Tuesday & Thursday
ECTS credits
: 4
Course fee:
€ 1,100
Can be combined with all B-Track courses
  • Syllabus (printable PDF incl. day-to-day schedule)

Course Description

The notions of ‘media’, ‘medium’, ‘mediation’, ‘medialization’ or ‘mediatization’ have occupied authors in the humanities for decades and have led to the emergence of new university programs as much as they initiated debates about the boundaries of already existing disciplines. Whereas some celebrated the plurality of models and concepts in the new program of media studies, others called for more distinction or mapped the different positions within the field. For example, differences were found between German media theory and Anglo-American medium theory, and some authors would even refer of a ‘Berlin brand of media theory’.

In this course, we will collectively scrutinize this labelling and widen the frame by discussing different historical and contemporary examples of research about media and communication in Berlin and Germany. We will focus on the period from the 1920s onwards and increasingly move towards the present. As we go along, we will build bridges between historical positions and contemporary ones, providing a sense for continuities and discontinuities in media theoretical positions and formats of media critique. Through the collective experience and critical discussion of texts, films and field trips, students will gain a wide understanding of the problems and objects of media-theoretical inquiry and of its historical and geographical context.

The overarching questions this course seeks to answer are: "What are common themes and issues in media theory and media critique?", "How did they develop in or refer to the particular context of Berlin?"

Altogether, this course has four intents: It serves as an introduction to problems in media studies for newcomers; it particularly focuses on media studies in Germany and Berlin for those already more familiar with questions in the field; it enquires about Berlin as both production site and object of media research; and it seeks to attenuate the labelling of a Berlin brand of media studies.

Student profile

This course is suitable for everyone who is interested in cultural, social, and philosophical theories about media and communication. For those who already have a background in media studies or related disciplines, the course might provide additional information about the German and Berlin context of the discipline. For all others, the course might serve as a general albeit selective introduction into repeating themes of media studies. The course is interdisciplinary in nature and particularly suited for undergraduate students from the fields of cultural studies, communication studies, comparative literature, and art history.

Prerequisites

A general openness towards the engagement with conceptual abstractions and artistic practices is expected, but no prior knowledge is required.

Required language skills

The language of instruction is English. Language proficiency on an advanced Intermediate level (Mittelstufe II) is a prerequisite for participation. For orientation purposes, you can assess your language skills here (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).

Course Requirements

You are required to attend and actively participate during the sessions, to introduce into one of the readings and organize its discussion, and to write an essay at the end of the course.

Grading

  • Attendance and participation: 20%
  • Text presentation and moderation: 40%
  • Final course paper: 40%

Reading

A course reader will be provided at the orientation meeting.

Recommended Course Combinations (Selection)