Terms of Media II: Actions

"Media determine our situation," Friedrich Kittler infamously wrote in his introduction to Gramophone, Film, Typewriter. Although this dictum is certainly extreme—and media archaeology has been critiqued for being overly dramatic and focused on technological developments—it propels us to keep thinking about media as setting the terms for which we live, socialize, communicate, organize, do scholarship etc. After all, as Kittler continued in his opening statement almost 30 years ago, our situation, "in spite or because" of media, "deserves a description." What, then, are the terms—the limits, the conditions, the periods, the relations, and the phrases—of media? And, what is the relationship between these terms and determination?

This project entails two international conferences, one to take place at Brown University in October 2015 and one mounted at Leuphana University in Lueneburg, Germany, in June 2015.  In addition the project will produce a series of publications based on these conferences.  In these talks and publications Terms of Media seeks to repose and update these fundamental questions of media theory.  Does our situation indicate a new term, understood as temporal shifts of mediatic conditioning, which deserves a re-description?  How and on what terms are media changing, reflecting changes in media itself?  What are the terms of conditions that we negotiate as subjects of media?  How do the terms of media theory relate to such conditions?  What are the terms of conditions of media theory itself?

The two-part conference and publication project proposes a number of such terms, both nouns and verbs, that we need to bring to today's media situation, both as descriptions of its terms of conditioning and as central tools for its analysis: fabrication, subjects, atmospheres, flesh; physics, markets, politics, and color; connect, organize, remain, work; animate/automate, communicate, forecast, mediate.  By pairing up scholars from North America and Europe who are conceptually shaping these terms, we seek to stage productive encounters for readdressing the fundamental question about terms of media and the future orientation of media theory.

The publications to follow from these series will be a series of innovative short books/pamphlets based on these paired papers, but will also include commentary by the moderators or others.  These will be co-edited by the postdoctoral fellows in the DCRL and will be published simultaneously in both English and German. 

This event will be live-streamed.

Conference schedule

List of speakers


Conference map