PhD Course: Visual Social Sciences and Digital Media Politics

Keynotes by Profs Anna Schober and Alice Mattoni 

This PhD course addresses students interested in conducting empirical research in the fields of visual social science, anthropology, and digital and complex media publics. Visual images have been studied by art historians and by students of culture, gender, media, and communication, anthropology, and postcolonial studies. Only lately have social and political scientists started to conduct visual analysis. Connecting the interdisciplinary fields of visual and social science methods, cultural theory, media, anthropology, sociology, and international relations, this course discusses theoretical concepts and concrete empirical tools for PhD students and researchers to investigate visual forms of communication in digital publics and print media, among policy makers and in globalized arenas of politics and protest. Keynote speakers and invited guests debate a number of important questions: How do images construct and shape people’s capacity to communicate and popularize their message in digital publics and toward national and transnational audiences involving allied political parties and institutions? How is authenticity and popularity constructed in visual icons of popular protest or in antagonist and increasingly populist election campaigns? How do current forms of digital and visual communication and social media affordances restrict and enable political communication between media actors, institutions, and radical political and social movements? Which cultural and gendered representations of ‘everyone’ shape the historic emergence of liberal democratic communication and the rise of populist political communication? Under what conditions do activists and civil society groups succeed to express public dissent as well as create and spread images of protest through digital and complex media publics?

During day one, the course will introduce the participants to cutting edge research in visual social sciences, digital media and protest. During the paper-workshop of day two, participants will be engaged in discussion on their own research with professors Anna Schober, University of Klagenfurt, and Alice Mattoni, Scuola Normale Superiore.

We invite PhD students, postdocs and researchers interested to apply for participation in the PhD course. Deadline for signing up is June 1 and the number of places for participants is limited. PhD students get 5 ECTS if you give a paper (over 10 pages) and 2 ECTS without paper.

Register with Lene El Mongy (