After having completed the course successfully, students are able to (1) identify forms of play, performativity and participation, both in contemporary and historical media configurations; (2) assess congruencies and discrepancies between the three concepts, and understand how they – various combinations - have shaped academic discourses (particularly within media studies, sociology, performance studies and anthropology) since the 1930s; (3) orally present the findings of a self-chosen research project informed by one or more of the central categories discussed in this course.
The course considers play, performativity and participation as three key terms that reoccur in different constellations within many theories of media and that, taken together, provide an analytical framework that is applicable both to the study of historical and very recent media phenomena. In contemporary culture and society, we use media for playing, performing, and participating in processes of cultural (re)production, citizen engagement and social interaction and the aim of the course is to discuss potential intersections and overlaps between these culturally formative practices.|
Our contemporary culture and, as a consequence, society is to a large extent constituted by media rather than merely being represented by them and the three core concepts discussed in this course offer a deeper understanding of these mediatisation processes as well as the characteristic formation of larger media constellations, configurations, and networks, which we currently observe.
Play refers to forms of more or less rule-guided behaviour and activities, oscillating between freedom and meaningful constraints, that players engage in for the purpose of struggle/negotiation, simulation, introspection or simply pleasure. It refers not only to literally playing games but also to playful interactions between different media formats and to playfulness as an aspect of media use and literacy, which is highly relevant in an increasingly mediatized culture.
“To perform” – as in both performance and performativity – articulates pragmatic aspects of world-making and staging, which both become more and more pervasive rather than being confined to an actual stage. Moreover, this concept emphasizes the self-referentiality and self-reflexivity that the double consciousness of being a performer and/or an audience implies.
Finally, participation relates to how different media formats provide us with means of communication and interaction. By (re)distributing access, engagement and agency, media play a decisive role in constructing identities and (both political and cultural) citizenship and, consequently, in processes of inclusion and exclusion.
In this course students develop professional research and writing skills.