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Here you can find all the keynote lecture videos since 2011.

Travelling the Image. On Navigation as a Paradigm of Digital Visual Cultures

1st February 2017

In one of the last interviews preceding his premature death in 2014, filmmaker, artist and writer Harun Farocki pondered the question to what extent the prime visual metholodogy of political modernism, namely montage, has been replaced by the paradigm of navigation. Moreover, Farocki implicitly asked what the epistemological and aesthetic consequences of such a shift would be. In my talk I will attempt to continue this interrogation of the condition of contemporary digital visual cultures, mobilizing the notion of "navigation" to trace the terrain of operational image production and usage. Being particularly interested in the fate of the idea of the political or dialectical image, this line of questioning aims at addressing the modes through which images are being converted into dataspaces to be travelled as well as the instrumental life of images as tools of navigation (from neurosurgery to targeted killings).


Tom Holert


Main Research Interests

  • Contemporary and Late Modernist Art
  • Governmentality of the Present

Publications (selected)

  • Übergriffe. Zustände und Zuständigkeit der Gegenwartskunst. Hamburg: Philo Fine Arts, 2014.
  • With Mark Terkessidis: Fliehkraft. Gesellschaft in Bewegung – von Migranten und Touristen. Köln: Kiepenheuer und Witsch, 2006.
  • With Mark Terkessidis: Entsichert. Krieg als Massenkultur im 21. Jahrhundert. Köln: Kiepenheuer und Witsch, 2002.
  • With Mark Terkessidis: Mainstream der Minderheiten; Pop in der Kontrollgesellschaft. Berlin / Amsterdam: ID Archiv, 1996.

Terrain – the Materiality of Territory

13th December 2016

Terrain is an important concept in both physical and military geography. However the term is often used in a relatively unproblematic way to describe the forms and textures that define particular spaces. This lecture draws elements from both traditions but situates them within a more explicitly theoretical-political inquiry, that of thinking the materiality of territory. Terrain is important in understanding territory because it combines materiality, strategy and the need to go beyond a narrow, two-dimensional sense of the cartographic imagination. Instead, terrain forces us to account for the complexity of height and depth, the question of volume. Terrain makes possible, or constrains, various political, military and strategic projects. It is where the geopolitical and the geophysical meet.

All attempts at fixing territorial boundaries and shaping territories are complicated by dynamic features of the Earth, including rivers, oceans, polar-regions, glaciers, airspace and the sub-surface – both the sub-soil and the sub-marine. These complexities operate at a range of spatial scales, from the boundaries of nation-states to urban infrastructure projects. Taking the measure of these factors is crucial for a political-legal theory of territory more generally. Essentially the key question is: how can theories of territory better account for the complexities of the geophysical?

Stuart Elden

Main Research Interests

  • Modern History
  • Political Geography
  • Philosophy

Publications (selected)

  • Foucault: The Birth of Power. Cambridge: Polity Press, forthcoming January 2017.
  • Foucault's Last Decade. Cambridge: Polity Press, 2016.
  • The Birth of Territory. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013.
  • Terror and Territory: The Spatial Extent of Sovereignty. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2009.

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Now Upon a Time: How African Folktales Speak to the Present and Beyond

6th December 2016

In this lecture I look at ways in which the content and form of Ghanaian folktales are being subverted to reflect the narrators’ lived realities (or their dreams) and to articulate their ideological perceptions. The revised stories feature (1) open-ended plots that break the presumed “stylistic consistency” of the folktale and (2) characters who inscribe themselves onto a ‘modern’ scene which is a far cry from the fantasy world typically associated with the folktale. I examine how these features challenge long held views in narratology, especially as they pertain to the narrative subject—views which have resulted in a shift in literary studies away from narrative grammar in search of a pragmatics of narrative. Furthermore, given that folktale studies have provided a site for the construction and demonstration of literary and cultural paradigms, my analysis of the Ghanaian folktales will form a basis for exploring the potential of this genre for generating new directions in African studies, particularly with regard to dismantling the foundations of the seemingly intractable colonizing epistemological order that has held sway within the discipline.

Helen Atawube Yitah

Main Research Interests

  • Gender Identity in Oral and Written African Literature
  • African American and American Literature
  • Eighteenth Century British Literature
  • Practice in Criticism

Publications (selected)

  • With Gordon Adika, George Ossom-Batsa: New Perspectives on African Humanity: Beliefs, Values & Artistic Expression. Accra: Adwinsa Publications, 2014.
  • After the Ceremonies: New and Selected Poems by Ama Ata Aidoo. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2014.
  • Critical Readings of Faceless. Accra: Sub-saharan Publishers, 2014.
  • Throwing Stones in Jest: Kasena Women’s Proverbial Revolt. Saabrücken: Lambert Academic Publishers, 2011.

Pushing Narrative to its Limits: Ekphrasis and Visuality in Teju Cole's Fiction

5th July 2016

Birgit Neumann

Main Research Interests

  • Anglophone Literatures and Cultures
  • Postcolonial, Global and Transcultural Studies
  • Postcolonial and Material Ecocriticism
  • Intermediality and Ekphrasis in Postcolonial Literatures

Publications (selected)

  • Präsenz und Evidenz fremder Dinge im Europa des 18. Jahrhunderts. Göttingen: Wallstein Verlag, 2015.
  • With Ansgar Nünning: Travelling Concepts for the Study of Culture. Berlin/New York: de Gruyter, 2012.
  • A Short History of English Literature until 1900: A Survey of Periods, Genres and Major Writers. Stuttgart: Klett, 2010.
  • With Ansgar Nünning: An Introduction to the Study of Narrative Fiction. Stuttgart: Klett, 2008.
  • Erinnerung – Identität – Narration. Gattungstypologie und Funktionen kanadischer Fictions of Memory. Berlin/New York: de Gruyter, 2005.

Post/Doc Perspectives: Against Functionalization. On Artistic Research

28th June 2016
A specter is haunting European academia – the specter of artistic research. This specter invokes an ambivalent promise: For some the hybridization of academic studies and art practice seems to be a worthwhile endeavor inasmuch as it aims to break with incrusted institutional structures within the field of art and knowledge production. Others hope to enhance the visibility of their institutions by acquiring public funds to establish new study and research programs that work at the intersection of art and research; or in short: artistic research has economic value.

In our lecture we will, first, address the discussion on artistic research by asking how an aesthetic critique of scientific knowledge production could look like. By, secondly, referring to concrete examples we will further question the potential of artistic research as a hybrid cultural praxis that receives its value precisely from sitting at the nexus of academic studies and art. Do we need to hold on to a constitutional difference between artistic practice and scientific praxis or does this distinction dissolve? In relating our thoughts to the institutional critique – specifically focusing on the critique of the higher education sector – we will assume that the praxis of artistic research can only fully unfold its potential if such a praxis gets encouraged by means of funding, but without institutionally embedding and regulating this very praxis.

Philipp Schulte

Main Research Interests

  • Contemporary Performance Art

  • Subjectivity and Identity

  • Theories of Space and Scenography

  • Theatre and Critique

Publications (selected)

  • With Anneka Esch-van Kan, Stephan Packard: Thinking – Resisting – Reading the Political. Zürich/Berlin: Diaphanes, 2013.
  • With Marion Tiedtke: Die Kunst der Bühne: Positionen des zeitgenössischen Theaters. Berlin: Theater der Zeit, 2011.
  • Identität als Experiment. Ichperformanzen auf der Gegenwartsbühne. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 2011.
  • With Marion Tiedtke: Die Kunst der Bühne. Zeitgenössische Positionen der Regie und der Choreographie. Berlin: Theater der Zeit, 2011.

Falk Rößler

Main Research Interests

  • Aesthetic Strategies in Contemporary Performing Arts

  • Artistic Research

  • Quality of Life-Discourse

Publications (selected)

  • Eierlegende Wollmilchsäue? Anmerkungen zu Künstlerischer Forschung. In: Frankfurt in Takt. Schwerpunktthema Künstlerische Forschung. Frankfurt am Main: Magazin der Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst Frankfurt am Main, 2015.
  • Das starke Selbst. Stoische und zeitgenössische Lebenskunstkonzepte als Medien der Lebensgestaltung. München: Grin, 2011.
  • Benjamins taktiles Paradies. Zum Politischen in Walter Benjamins Kunstwerk-Aufsatz. In: Flade/Förster/Ugarte Chacón: Paradiese am Rand. Studentisches Denken. Marginalien an der Universität? München: USP, 2010.