Category Archives: PhD Blog

PhD Course: “Introduction to Regression Analysis”

Dr. Alexa Burmester will hold the blocked course “Introduction to Regression Analysis” on October 10 and 11 2016. It will take place from 9:15 am to 1:45 pm on both days, either in room 4030 or 4031 in the faculty of business administration (Esplanade).

The course value is 1 SWS or 2 LP.

Please bring a laptop with Stata 13 or newer. If applicable, you can bring
your own data set of your research project.

You can find more details here: Ausschreibung-PhD-Kurs-Burmester

Flyer: Transgressive Television

“Erstwhile in Vienna…”: Brief conference report on ‘Transgressive Television: Politics, Crime, and Citizenship in 21st-Century American TV Series’ – An international Conference, 01.-03.10.2014, Amerika Haus, Vienna

The last three days have been a blast – I am just now on my way back from a visit to Vienna, Austria, where I attended the international conference “Transgressive Television”, and I am more than glad to have been part of a lively forum of Television Studies scholarship, which – contrary to many shouts about the death of Television – is as alive and kicking as the medium itself. Right from the start, what struck me as particularly interesting is the fact that, with only a fraction of the people present with a background in Film or Media Studies, Television Studies in Europe seems to generally be part more of the cultural and literary roots of American Studies.But back to the event: organized by Prof Birgit Däwes (University of Vienna) in cooperation with the Embassy of the United States in Austria, the conference provided a space for more than a dozen presentations that revolved around questions of transgression in regards to politics, power, representations of ethnicity and gender, the role of the anti-hero and, in particular, the criminal exemplified on a diverse selection of both well-known as well as new contemporary TV shows including The Wire (HBO, 2002-8), Breaking Bad (AMC, 2008-13), The Sopranos (HBO, 1999-2007), House of Cards (Netflix, 2013-), Sons of Anarchy (FX, 2008-), Scandal (ABC, 2012-), Dexter (Showtime, 2006-13), Hannibal (NBC, 2013-), and True Detective (HBO, 2014-).

Keynote by Prof Gary Edgerton
Image: (C) 2014, Embassy of the United States in Austria

The opening keynote held by one of Television Studies’ eminent scholars, Prof Gary Edgerton, provided an intriguing introduction to the world of what is now popularly known as “Quality Television” – although, as was voiced by many of the participants during the conference, the label is a controversial and contested one.

In his talk, Edgerton framed Television’s status quo with an amazingly multifaceted as well as detailed diachronic analysis of developments in the US TV industry during the last twenty years and its effects on a new way of producing as well as structuring television serials. Regarding the technology, Edgerton highlighted two aspects of the medium’s larger evolution that affect how television works today: an evolution from regional to national to international to global (through the corresponding carrier media such as network, cable, satellite and the internet), and an evolution from the massive TV set in the living room to a multiplicity of devices (smartphone, tablet, TV, etc.) that was facilitated through the unprecedented impact of the internet, which enabled television content to become streamable and opened up a multitude of ways of consumption.

Furthermore, Edgerton highlighted the emergence of a whole generation of showrunners during the 1990s, who learned their craft at the sets of a first generation of groundbreaking shows such as St. Elsewhere (NBC, 1982-8), Hill Street Blues (MTM/NBC, 1981-7) and Thirtysomething (ABC, 1987-91), and whom he labels “New Serialists”. According to Edgerton, many of these New Serialists, including now-famous showrunners such as David Chase, Matt Weiner, David Milch, and Tom Fontana, kick-started a more personal, more aesthetically complex and more morally ambiguous narrative style at the turn of the century and nowadays are the driving force behind much of contemporary successful serial television, a televisual form that Edgerton labeled “America’s Signature Art Form” during the first 15 years of the 21st century.

At this point, I will not delve deeper into the whole collection of presentations that followed during the next one and a half days – please make sure to visit for a detailed list of specific topics presented at the conference. To sum up the broad variety of television texts and approaches, I have to say that I found almost all of the presented perspectives – which oscillated between ‘close reading’-approaches of a single television text and shorter analyses of multiple texts in order to highlight an overarching issue or theme – to be highly valuable and intriguing examples of how television can be studied in 2014.

The closing roundtable discussion then served as the conference’s season finale, so to speak, and, apart from Birgit Däwes and Gary Edgerton, icluded two representatives of Austrian print journalism and the local television industry. Gary Edgerton opened up the debate with some conclusive remarks and further details on the future of television and, in particular, the role of Netflix and other DCPs (digital content providers) in the current media landscape and prophesied that television – if not in the form of technology – will surely continue to thrive as a cultural practice for at least the next half-century. Regarding the role of Netflix and others, Edgerton was skeptical about the longevity of their business model because of emerging new technological barriers that the industry will soon meet, since the current internet bandwidth usage in the US by Netflix users alone already amounts to 25% of all web traffic – and nobody knows what happens if the user numbers further increase and the repercussions that will have for the web traffic regulation and the internet per se.

From that starting point emerged a discussion on the notion of “Quality” that quickly centered on the international comparability of US vs. European productions and corresponding question regarding the output of European complex TV serials, which in comparison still struggles on the verge of non-existence. In that context, a perceived stark contrast on the European continent and of particularly Austrian and German television was highlighted, that, with an apparent mentality of Least Objectionable Programming that seems to be present in almost all of the networks (and, of course, with a small sample of notable examples to prove the rule), has much deeper structural problems to face than does the US American counterpart. Further comparisons between issues of success measurement in regards to ratings that, particularly in the European context, at the present moment fail to represent large groups of users that use other than the traditional ways to watch TV.

So, to conclude, this event has been a truly productive and amazingly interesting one, with a broad and diverse collection of perspectives on the role of contemporary television within the larger sociocultural context of today.

Tobias Steiner

Trip to Bremen 2014 – Medienwissenschaftliches Kolloquium Nordverbund

On Friday, January 17, 2014, a group of students and staff members of the IMK was given the great opportunity to attend this year’s first installment of the Nordverbund Kolloquium, a workshop format traditionally organized by a variety of members of Northern German universities, and usually hosted on a rotating basis at those participating universities.

This year’s installment was hosted by Professor John Bateman and Dr Heinz-Peter Preußer of Bremen University and included delegations from Bremen and Kiel universities. Meanwhile in Hamburg, a group of MA and PhD students gathered around Professor Thomas Weber and, with all of them being interested in what fellow students and staff in Bremen are currently working at, decided to also participate in the colloquium.

A group of six (Prof Thomas Weber, Dr Sigrun Lehnert, David Ziegenhagen, Irina Scheidgen, Henrik Wehmeyer, and your humble author of this piece), we met at Hamburg Central Station, took a train and then switched over to a local tramway that brought us directly onto the steps of Bremen University.

After having had initial trouble with finding the right location (those floors feel like mazes for an outsider!), we jumped right in and, after a few introductory words by John Bateman and Hans-Peter Preußer, heard Dr Jennifer Henke’s normative approach to the representation of science in graphic/novels and comics in her presentation “(R)Evolution im Comic? Zur Popularisierung von Naturwissenschaft in Graphic Adaptations” (On the popularization of science in graphic adaptations), which was followed by an open-floor discussion.

The following slot was reserved for Prof John Bateman and Dr Janina Wildfeuer, who presented a newly-developed multi-modal analytical framework allowing for closer linguistic analysis of comic strips and graphic novels, taking into consideration the manifold relationships and multilayered workings between different elements and levels of comic strip language and semiotics. Due to a late start, the following discussion round had to be kept rather brief, but was continued on a more informal level when all participants went for a lunch break, which was held at one of Bremen University’s cafeterias.

After a nourishing lunch break, Prof Matthis Kepser – with his talk “Der Bergfilm. Typologie eines produktiven Sujets” – introduced the audience to the movie genre of what is generally labelled “Bergfilm” aka. “Mountain Movie” and focuses on movies that have as their core subject the struggle between man and mountain, including films such as Louis Trenker’s “Berg des Schicksals”/”Mountain of Destiny” (1924), different takes on “Nanga Parbat” by Frank Leberecht, Hans Ertl, Donald Shebib and Joseph Vilsmayer (1936, 1953, 1986, 2010) or post-/modern takes on the subject such as Pepe Danquart’s “Am Limit”/”To the Limit” (2007) or Danny Boyle’s “127 Hours” (2010).

Following a stimulated discussion about the influence of James Bond on the Bergfilm genre and other Bergfilm-related questions, Benjamin Moldenhauer introduced the audience to his current research project on Horror and self-reflexivity in “‘Pigs will get what pigs deserve’: Horror und Selbstreflexivität in Joss Whedons Cabin in the Woods“.

A short coffee break then led over to the last slot of presentations, which begun with Dr André Steiner’s approach to the topic of identity loss in movies in his talk “Identitätsdiffusion im Film: Rezeptive Orientierungslosigkeit von Der Student von Prag bis Inland Empire“.

Dr Janina Wildfeuer and Felix Engel concluded the colloquium with a presentation on “Musiksemiotik in Christopher Nolans Inception“, which introduced an approach to the use of music and sound as a means to semiotically link parts of a movie narrative which was exemplified by an analysis of the use of sound snippets of Edith Piaf’s “Non, je ne regrette rien” within the narrative of Nolan’s Inception (2010).

With the end of the formal colloquium, all participants then relocated to an Italian restaurant, where the whole group joined in for a bit of pizza, pasta and wine. Later, our small group of Hamburgians left in order to catch the last train to Hamburg – and was very glad to have been given the opportunity to participate in such an interesting, interdisciplinary format!

Tobias Steiner

play13 Festival in Hamburg

Das PLAY-Festival, veranstaltet von der Initiative Creative Gaming, ist seit Jahren eine feste Adresse für alle, die sich kreativ, wissenschaftlich oder in der Medienbildung mit digitalen Spielen auseinandersetzen. Nach den bescheidenen Anfängen in Hannover und Hamburg und mehreren stetig gewachsenen Festivals in Potsdam, fand die play13 vom 18. bis 20. September 2013 erstmals wieder in Hamburg statt – und ich durfte mit einem Talk zu “Wissenschaft und Games” dabei sein.

130919_play13_talk_schmalDie Veranstalter der play13 verstanden es dabei nicht nur, ungewöhnliche und kontrastreiche Orte (u.a. das Thalia-Theater, das Gängeviertel und das Metropolis-Kino) in das Programm einzubeziehen, sondern hatten auch zahlreiche Akteure aus der bunten Hamburger Games-Szene eingebunden. Hierzu zählten einerseits die Hamburger Vorzeige-Entwickler BigPoint, Daedalic, InnoGames und Bytro Labs, die den Festivalbesuchern Betriebsführungen, Workshops und Kurzinputs boten, andererseits aber auch wissenschaftliche Institutionen wie das Hans-Bredow-Institut für Medienforschung und die HAW Hamburg. Aus dem vielfältigen Programm konnte ich leider nur ausgewählte Termine wahrnehmen, darunter selbstverständlich die feierliche Eröffnung im Hamburger Rathaus, die Night of Machinima im Metropolis-Kino und interessante Talkrunden zu den Themen “Kreativität und Games” sowie “Computerspiele und Medienbildung”. Die dritte Talkrunde “Computerspiele und Wissenschaft” wurde dann von den Kollegen Florian Hohmann, Lutz Schröder und mir selbst bestritten, launig moderiert von Uke Bosse, Redaktionsleiter beim TV-Magazin “Reload“. 90 Minuten lang diskutierten wir im Opernloft die Geschichte der Game Studies, die Vor- und Nachteile verschiedener disziplinärer Perspektiven auf Spiel und Spieler und die Frage, ob man ‘mit wissenschaftlicher Brille’ eigentlich noch ‘richtig’ spielen könne.

Das dreitägige Festival endete am Freitag, 20. September, mit einer großen Party im Hühnerposten, gemeinsam mit Gamecity:Hamburg.

Weitere Informationen zum play13-Festival:

  • Interview mit mir kurz vor dem Talk “Computerspiele und Wissenschaft”:


  • Stimmen zur play13 in Hamburg (feat. pathetische Schlussworte by myself):


Felix Schröter

‘GMaC-Lunch’ lecture and discussion

A ‘GMaC-Lunch’ lecture and discussion was organized on 29.01.2013 from 13:30 – 15:00h in the Graduate School Media and Communication (GMaC). The lecture was organized in cooperation with the Erasmus Mundus program of journalism studies at the University of Hamburg. The keynote speaker was Prof. William Porath.

In his talk, Prof. Porath presented his project titled, “Uses of elements of personalization and strategic frames in newspaper coverage of two Chilean presidential campaigns (1989-2009)”. Dr. Porath started by discussing the personalization of politics and the growing use of the strategic frame. Then he discussed the changing styles and forms of political communication in Western democracies, the concept of Mediatization and “Americanization” and “Presidentialization” of the campaigns. More specifically, he discussed his main project on the Chilean newspaper. He focused on the Chilean case as an example of Latin America, as well as the objectives and theoretical concepts of the strategic frame in the media. In detail on Chile as a case study, he discussed the media industry and the politics in Chile, the written media (the press) especially El Mercurio, Las Ultimas Noticias (LUN) and La Tercera in Chile. At the end of his presentation, Prof. Porath put forth some of his preliminary findings. Moreover, Prof. Porath gave some considerations regarding the personalization and strategic frames in newspaper coverage, i.e., according to the project data, there is an increase in the space for one aspect of personalization represented in privatization and for the use of elements of the so called “strategic frame”, to inform about the development of the Chilean campaigns in the four studied newspapers mentioned above. Another consideration is the scheme of changes that is repeated when he analyzed the data differentially for the narratives that originate at the initiative of the politicians themselves through campaigns and those originating by the media.

After the presentation, the floor was open for discussion between Prof. Porath and the participants of the meeting. An interesting discussion focused on the results and the case of privatization as an aspect of personalization and whether the Chilean case could be an example of the Latin America in terms of personalization and strategic frames in the presidential campaigns

Prof. Porath is from Pontificia Universidad Católica in Santiago de Chile and is a guest professor at the Erasmus Mundus program at the University of Hamburg. .

Wesam Amer

ICA/UC Regional Conference (Santiago-Chile)

Jenkins_ICA_chica_0For the first time, the International Communication Association (ICA) celebrated a regional conference for the Latin American research community. This event took place in one of the most prestigious universities in Latin America, the Pontificia Universidad Católica, from October 18 to 20, 2012 in Santiago-Chile.

A topic which seemed to cut across various sessions and panels was the relationship between social media usage and political or social activism. One interesting perspective of the issue focused on the new media role among the indigenous inhabitants of Latin America.

Paulette Desmormeaux (Chile), a former Mundus Journalism in Hamburg student, emphasized on the importance of the grassroots online media among the Mapuche community. In this respect the Mapuche´s newspapers Azkintuwe and MapucheExpress play a central role opposing the representation power of mainstream media, which reflect and reproduce Mapuche´s negative stereotypes. “In this panorama the social media platforms increase visibility and strength inclusion, contributing to democracy reinforcement”, she said.

On the same line, Karina García-Ruano from Michigan State University (USA) spoke about the Guatemalan struggle, where a group of Mayas mobilize demanding the closure of the Marlin mine in San Marcos. The social media offer them two types of power: one inwards, empowering the community, strengthening collective efficacy, and social cohesion; and one outwards, increasing solidarity with the movement, generating visibility in mainstream media, and incidence in decision making. “New media platforms allow this group to expand their voices, fighting locally with global impact”, said the researcher.

The conference also offered some interesting lessons on the gender issue, like the paper presented by Graciela Natansohn from the Universidad de Buenos Aires (Argentina), where she approached the digital gap from a gender perspective, questioning the media and their capacity to include women in several levels, from content and design until usability. “Gender plays an important role in technology appropriation, and if our countries want to overcome the digital divide, the gender issue should be in the center of the discussion”, emphasized the post-doc researcher.

Two members of the RCMC community participated as speakers in the conference: the lecturer at the Institute for Journalism and Communication Studies and the Institute of Political Science and a member of the Center for Media and Politics Kathrin Voss from the University of Hamburg (Germany), who spoke about how the Internet changed grassroots campaigning, and the current GMaC PhD candidate Amaranta Alfaro Muirhead (Chile), who presented on citizen participation and inclusion through social networks sites.

The closing key note talk was in charge of Henry Jenkins from the University of Southern California (USA), with the presentation “From Participatory Culture to Participatory Politics by Way of Participatory Learning”. He elaborated on the new kinds of politics, which include a sort of cultural play by performing, collaborating, creating, connecting and circulating, and leads to participatory democracy. Jenkins stated that this new forms of participation are “lowing the engagement barriers, because of their informal membership, the strong sharing creation with others and the value of the members contributions, opinions and work”. These reflections regarding indigenous empowerment in the media and participation are some to take into account while thinking about the numerous indigenous groups in Latin America, which remain in conflict with countries like Colombia and Mexico. On the other hand the gender issue cross many of the developing countries, and many times both factors are combined, so these perspectives offer a great potential to include in the national discussion excluded groups, minimizing not only the digital gap, but also the social and participatory divide, leading to Jenkins participatory culture and democracy.


  • Conference Link in Spanish:
  • Conference Link in English:
  • Graciela Natansohn profile (papers to download):
  • Henry Jenkins (papers to download):
  • Kathrin Voss:
  • Mapuche´s newspapers: &

– Amaranta Alfaro Muirhead –

2012 SCSMI Conference (New York)

At first glance attending the annual conference of the SCSMI (Society for Cognitive Studies of the Moving Image) sounds somewhat old-fashioned: “Cognitive film studies? That’s so 1970s!” … But far from it! The SCSMI is a living scientific community which keeps renewing its object of research as well as its methodological toolbox. Together with Kathrin Fahlenbrach, also member of the Research Center for Media and Communication (RCMC), I was invited to this year’s SCSMI conference that took place 13-16 June 2012 in Bronxville, New York.

Highlights of the conference were the keynote lectures by Alva Noë, David Bordwell and Noël Carroll as well as a night of fascinating experimental 3D films by Ken Jacobs.

These lectures and the various other paper presentations made it quite clear that the majority of research within the SCSMI no longer focuses solely on modeling film viewers’ cognitive activity of ‘information processing’ (as one might expect with regard to the ‘cognitivist’ label) but on the viewing experience as a whole, covering moods, perception, emotions and the diverse ways of relating to fictional characters.

This became also apparent in the paper Kathrin Fahlenbrach and I presented: It was titled “Emotional Mechanics” and discussed the way video games structure players’ emotional responses to video game characters and their behaviour. The conference ended on June 16 with a banquet at New York University.

– Felix Schröter –

Tagung „Menschenbilder in der Populärkultur“ 2012 (Wien)

Vom 29. bis 31. März 2012 fand an der Universität Wien die Tagung “Menschenbilder in der Populärkultur – Konflikte und Wandel” statt, zu der zwei Mitglieder der Graduate School als Redner eingeladen waren: Sebastian Armbrust mit einem Vortrag zu Ethik US-amerikanischer Serienhelden und ich selbst mit einem Beitrag zur Normativität digitaler Spiele. Die dreitägige Tagung vertiefte Diskussionen über die Rolle von Menschenbildern in Medien und Gesellschaft, die 2011 auf dem Workshop “Medium Menschenbild” an der Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz begonnen worden waren.

Am ersten Konferenztag standen Menschenbilder in Film und Fernsehen im Mittelpunkt, etwa Maike Sarah Reinerths Beitrag zur Darstellung des Mentalen im Film, Ivo Ritzer zu Menschenbildern als Heldenbildern im US-Western, japanischen Samurai- und chinesischen Martial-Arts-Film sowie Sebastian Armbrusts bereits erwähnter Vortrag zu moralisch ambivalenten Protagonisten US-amerikanischer TV-Serien.

Der zweite Tag war dagegen deutlich interdisziplinärer geprägt, wenn etwa Daniel Hornuff über die Inszenierung von Promi-Schwangerschaften sprach, Katja Pufalt über die christliche Ikonographie des David LaChapelle und Joseph Imorde über …nunja… Unterhosen, genauer über Derridas Recycling-Begriff im Zusammenhang mit Werbefotographie für Unterwäsche.
Zum Ausklang des Freitagabends stand schließlich ein Besuch in der Schädelsammlung des Naturhistorischen Museums Wien auf dem Programm.

Im Zentrum des letzten Tagungstag standen zunächst noch einmal die neuen Medien, als Jens Eder über Menschenbilder auf Youtube sprach und ich selbst in meinem Vortrag das Problem konfligierender Menschenbilder und dominanter moralischer Strategien im Computerspiel am Beispiel von Deus Ex: Human Revolution thematisierte. Den Schlusspunkt bildete allerdings wieder ein historisch weit ausholender (und dabei doch zeitloser) Vortrag von Gesine Krüger zum “Affentheater”, zur inszenierten Imitation menschlichen Verhaltens durch Affen.

Die Wiener Tagung führte erneut sehr unterschiedliche wissenschaftliche Perspektiven unter dem Begriff des Menschenbildes erfolgreich zusammen. Obwohl die Notwendigkeit von grundlegender Verständigung über Begriffe und Methoden zur Erforschung medialer Menschenbilder einmal mehr deutlich zutage trat, konnte die Tagung doch im Vergleich zur Vorläuferveranstaltung in Mainz noch neue Akzente setzen und begonnene Diskussionen vertiefen. Das nächste Treffen des Forschungsverbundes “Menschenbilder in Medien, Künsten und Wissenschaften” findet unter dem Titel Menschenbilder in der Populärkultur. Kunst-, Bild-, Medienwissenschaften vom 12.-14. Juni 2012 in Siegen statt.

– Felix Schröter –

‘GMaC-lunch’ lecture

A ‘GMaC-lunch’ lecture was organized on 15 May 2012 between noon and 2pm in cooperation with the Hans-Bredow-Institute where the lecture took a place. Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Schulz chaired the discussion and Dr. Manuel Puppis was the keynote speaker of the lecture.

In this lecture, Dr. Puppis discussed the following topic “Comparing Media Policy and Regulation”. In a detailed discussion, he focused on:

  1.   Communication Policy Research: State of the Art
  2.   Basics of Comparing Media Policy and Regulation
  3.   Comparative Media Policy Research: On Overview

As scholars are expected, among other things, to deliver fresh ideas to policy-makers, comparative research can play a crucial role in finding adequate ways to reform media regulation and governance mechanisms. Despite its undeniable merits for research and policy-makers, comparing media policy and regulation is subject to various pitfalls and limitations. Some of the benefits discussed in the lecture were: revealing patterns; advancing theories in general and identifying best-practice models and pointing at possible solutions in specific. However, the pitfalls and limitations discussed in the lecture were the lack of theory-driven research; mostly descriptive in general and in specific, documents unavailable or outdated; documents vs. regulatory reality; different institutional environments.

This lecture aimed at clarifying how exactly comparing media policy and regulation works in practice. It suggested four different steps of comparing media policy and regulation (selecting cases; identifying dimensions; collecting data; performing the actual comparison).

Dr. Puppis argued that future research should move beyond geographical boundaries (e.g., the nation-state) and media systems. Furthermore, he presented the most influential handbooks and key comparative studies. He also emphasized that past research has mainly been interested in instruments of broadcasting regulation in primarily Western countries, and that causal comparisons using macro-qualitative methods are virtually non-existent.

Dr. Manuel Puppis is a guest researcher at the Hans Bredow Institute and at the Graduate School Media and Communication.

– Wesam Amer –

Presentation on German Rap Music (GMaC)

On May 8th 2012, GMaC’s visiting research fellow Marissa K. Munderloh gave a presentation on her PhD project which looks at urban identity in German hip-hop culture.

The presentation titled “Urban Identity, Hybridity and Rap Music” was based on a case study taken from Marissa’s overall research, which focused a rap crew from Hamburg. With the theoretical concept of the ‘Third Space’ derived from post-colonial studies on cultural hybridity, Marissa exemplified how German rap music can be treated as a hybridized art form having been re-negotiated into a German social context from its US-American original. Furthermore, the chosen rappers for the presentation employed rap music to express their ideological and emotional state as hybrid artists which manifested itself in a sole identification with their city – in this case with Hamburg.

With lyrical, visual, musical as well as linguistic examples, the relationship between cultural hybridity and urban affiliation was highlighted and explained. Thereby, Marissa showed how rappers with dual ethnicity have the potential to disseminate a new perspective on Germany’s cultural landscape through their hybrid approach to rap music as well as through neglecting a national affiliation in favor of an urban one. Hence, “German” rap music can be utilized as valuable material to understand better contemporary dynamics of identity formation and the hybridization of art in an urban context. Marissa is a second year PhD candidate in the German Department at the University of St Andrews, Scotland, and is currently conducting fieldwork in Hamburg for her PhD project.

– Guest editor –