2012

“Spaces of Media”

Second Princeton-Weimar Summer School for Media Studies,
Princeton, June 17-23, 2012

The 2012 Princeton-Weimar Summer School for Media Studies will focus on the complex intersections of media and space. Media Studies started with Harold A. Innis’s exploration of the role of media in shaping the cultural and political spaces of societies. Yet the question of how to understand the ways in which spaces, localities, and modes of navigation in such domains are all generated by media remains an urgent challenge for today’s Media Studies.

How much do we know about the history of navigation and its technologies and techniques, from maps and compasses to the latest GPS devices, and how are we to understand the ways of navigating by and within files, books, and writing? Do we fully understand the ways in which the spatiality of the diagrammatic contributes to the operations of the signifier, whether in the production of meaning or in the production of economic values, or administrative control? Do we have an adequate grasp on the way in which media of distribution and circulation effect the constitution and control of geographic spaces? And do we still believe in media utopias, according to which space has been successfully annihilated as an insignificant factor thanks to high transmission speeds and minimal transaction costs?

The 2012 Princeton-Weimar Summer School for Media Studies takes its cues from these questions. Some of the topics that will receive particular focus during the week-long series of intensive seminars, lectures and workshops include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Media practices such as like note-taking, mapping, bookkeeping, and filing with regard to their consequences for the access to, and control of, economic, commercial, colonial, or imperial spaces.
  • Historical case studies concerning different media formations, e.g. the Roman Imperium and its flows of command, the European postal system, and the German Democratic Republic as a self-contained national territory.
  • The production of architectural space by doors and windows, corridors, lifts, and other devices, and the hybridization of these spaces in the electronic and digital ages.
  • The connection between of media, media research and media utopia, which tends to negate the specificity of space as a mere resistance to communication and commerce in favor of its overcoming.
  • Political and juridical spaces such as the territory of the state or the space of international law was based on the distinction between land and sea for centuries. The sea is not only the space of what is excluded from the orders of state and law, and their institutions, it is also the space of the ‘othering’ of the self and of its re-invention.
  • Categories such as nation, homeland, countryside, and the metropolis that provide both orientation as well as an imagination of rootedness and identity, are central realities of media. Theoretical and literary approaches to reframe these media spaces in terms of a global village (Marshall McLuhan), the cyberspace (William Gibson), a world society (Niklas Luhmann), or of imagined communities (Benedict Anderson) will be interrogated as powerful narratives that heavily influence actual politics.
  • consequences for the access to, and control of, economic, commercial, colonial, or imperial spaces.
  • Historical case studies concerning different media formations, e.g. the Roman Imperium and its flows of command, the European postal system, and the German Democratic Republic as a self-contained national territory.
  • The production of architectural space by doors and windows, corridors, lifts, and other devices, and the hybridization of these spaces in the electronic and digital ages.
  • The connection between of media, media research and media utopia, which tends to negate the specificity of space as a mere resistance to communication and commerce in favor of its overcoming.
  • Political and juridical spaces such as the territory of the state or the space of international law was based on the distinction between land and sea for centuries. The sea is not only the space of what is excluded from the orders of state and law, and their institutions, it is also the space of the ‘othering’ of the self and of its re-invention.
  • Categories such as nation, homeland, countryside, and the metropolis that provide both orientation as well as an imagination of rootedness and identity, are central realities of media. Theoretical and literary approaches to reframe these media spaces in terms of a global village (Marshall McLuhan), the cyberspace (William Gibson), a world society (Niklas Luhmann), or of imagined communities (Benedict Anderson) will be interrogated as powerful narratives that heavily influence actual politics.