Imagining Media Change — Photos from the Symposium

Here are some images from our symposium “Imagining Media Change,” which took place on June 13, 2013:


Above, Ruth Mayer opening the symposium with some nice words of welcome.

1-Jussi_ParikkaJussi Parikka talking about “Cultural Techniques of Cognitive Capitalism: On Change and Recurrence” in his wonderful opening keynote.

2-Florian_GrossFlorian Groß delivering his talk “The Only Constant is Change: American Television and Media Change Revisited” — with examples from Mad Men.

3-Bettina_SollerBettina Soller on hypertext and fanfic in her talk “How We Imagined Electronic Literature and Who Died: Looking at Fan Fiction to See What Became of the Future of Writing”.

4-Shane_DensonMe, Shane Denson, on escalators and “On NOT Imagining Media Change”.

5-Wanda_StrauvenWanda Strauven delivering the second keynote, “Pretend (&) Play: Children as Media Archaeologists” — a lively talk with great examples!

6-Christina_MeyerChristina Meyer talking about the Yellow Kid and “Technology – Economy – Mediality: Nineteenth Century American Newspaper Comics”.

7-Ilka_BraschIlka Brasch talking about early film serials and “Facilitating Media Change: The Operational Aesthetic as a Receptive Mode”.

8-Alexander_StarreAlexander Starre wrapping up the symposium with an excellent talk on “Evolving Technologies, Enduring Media: Material Irony in Octave Uzanne’s ‘The End of Books’”.

And finally, here are a few more random pictures:




Florian Groß, “The Only Constant is Change”


Abstract for Florian Groß’s talk at the symposium “Imagining Media Change” (June 13, 2013, Leibniz Universität Hannover):

The Only Constant is Change: American Television and Media Change Revisited

Florian Groß

“This device isn’t a spaceship, it’s a time machine. Goes backwards, forwards. It takes us to a place where we ache to go again.” This is how 1960s adman Don Draper describes a slide projector in the historical television series Mad Men, and his pitch is also a potent way of describing the medium itself. From its development out of radio and film to its present convergence with digital media, television’s interaction with other media and processes of media change was often linked to its negotiation of the future and the past, progress and retrospection, and innovation and nostalgia.

This paper argues that in order to understand the future of television and the potential results of its increasing interaction with digital media, an understanding of the medium’s past as well as television’s own understandings of its past is instrumental. In this context, Mad Men’s historiography and its attempt to unearth and create historical material helps us to come to terms with the layers of television’s past whose residues always coexist with the medium in transition and continue to influence the shape of televisual things to come.

It’s Not Television (Or Is It?)


Three members of the Initiative for Interdisciplinary Media Research (Felix Brinker, Florian Groß, and Shane Denson) will be presenting papers at the upcoming conference “It’s Not Television” (22-23 February 2013, Goethe University of Frankfurt). Our abstracts can be found here:

Felix Brinker: “Narratively Complex Television Series and the Lure of Conspiracy – On the Politics of Long-Form Serial Storytelling and the Paranoid Eye of Active Audiences”

Shane Denson: “Serial Bodies: Corporeal Engagement in Long-Form Serial Television”

Florian Groß: “Born Alone, Die Alone, But Never Dine Alone: The Creative Individual and Generic Family Structures in Recent TV Series”

Florian Groß: “The Creative Individual and Generic Family Structures in Recent TV Series”


Abstract for Florian Groß’s talk at the conference “It’s Not Television” (Frankfurt, 22-23 February 2013). See here for talks by other members of the Initiative for Interdisciplinary Media Research.

Born Alone, Die Alone, But Never Dine Alone:
The Creative Individual and Generic Family Structures in Recent TV Series

Florian Groß

Ever since television has been part of the American family, the American family has been part of television. Even under the “not TV”-paradigm, family remains a central aspect of television, as shows like The Sopranos or Six Feet Under attest. In many recent shows, this constitutive part of the televisual landscape interacts with a highly fetishized figure in contemporary television, the creative individual. Californication’s Hank Moody, Mad Men’s Don Draper, or 30 Rock’s Liz Lemon are but a few examples of non-conformist, iconoclast and ingenious characters who express their innate urges in various aesthetic(ized) fields and serially assert their individual freedom and self-reliance. Yet, despite their superficial undermining of traditional (family) concepts, they also take serial recourse to standard conceptions of family. They may be adulterers, divorcees, or singles, but they hardly ever define themselves without the (white, middle class, nuclear) family, which emerges as a structure that provides the creative heroes with boundaries that prevents them from becoming antisocial.

My paper analyzes this dynamic interaction between an aestheticized individualism and the continued relevance of family structures. Furthermore, I want to link this narrative aspect of television series to their respective take on genres. In an era that is purportedly moving beyond genre, it becomes nevertheless apparent that series frequently resort to classic televisual genres and thus return to their generic ‘family’. In the end, looking at recent television’s simultaneous deconstruction and reconstruction of the American family helps to explain how and why today’s segmented audience(s) are symbolically (re-)united by forms of television that restore the social function of an “electronic hearth” (Tichi).

In Media Res: Teen TV & Pedagogy

This week (November 12-16, 2012), my colleague Florian Groß participates in a theme week entitled “Teen TV and Pedagogy,” over at In Media Res. Each day’s contribution, consisting of a video clip of up to three minutes accompanied by a short essay of 300-350 words, is designed to serve as a conversation starter aimed at involving a broad audience in discussion of key topics relating to television aimed at teen audiences.

To participate in the discussion, you will need to register beforehand at In Media Res. (Registration is simple, but it can sometimes take a while for user accounts to be generated, so it is recommended that you register asap.)

Here is the lineup of presenters/curators for the theme week, along with the titles:

Monday, November 12, 2012 – Phoebe Bronstein (University of Oregon) presents: A Huge Cancellation and the ABC Family Brand

Tuesday, November 13, 2012 – Chris Tokuhama (University of Southern California) presents: “We Don’t Need Another Hero: Individualism and Self-Reliance in Teen Television”

Wednesday, November 14, 2012 – Florian Groß (Leibniz Universität Hannover) presents: “Rebels with a Cause: Creativity and the Teen Drama”

Thursday, November 15, 2012 – Joe Barton (Newcastle University) presents: “British Student Sitcoms, Teen Television, and Neoliberal Pedagogy”

Friday, November 16, 2012 –  Chelsea Bullock (University of Oregon) presents: “’This is an unstable environment’: Teen Mom 2 and Class”

The theme week is organized by Karen Petruska (Northeastern University).

Ulrich Blumenbach, “Der Übersetzer als Gärtner”

On Thursday, June 28 (at 6:00 pm in room 609, Conti-Hochhaus), Ulrich Blumenbach will talk about his work as German translator of David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest. The talk, titled “Der Übersetzer als Gärtner: Pfingstrosen, Kraut und Rüben,” will take place in the context of Florian Groß’s seminar on Infinite Jest, but everyone is welcome to come!