MAP Lectures: Mass Digitization

The Leiden Lectures in Media | Art | Politics (MAP) is a monthly series of talks organized by Pepita Hesselberth and Yasco Horsman. Speakers from various academic backgrounds and in different stages of their careers reflect on diverging ways in which technological and social changes challenge and transform the cultural and political conditions of our existence, often in the form of a work-in-progress. Informal in character and open to all, every last Wednessday of the month.

Time & Place

Every last Wednesday of the month (during the semesters) from 17h-18h30 in LIPSIUS 148 (2017) and LIPSIUS 227 (2018), Leiden University.

For whom?

The MAP Lectures are open to everyone, also from beyond the university. All staff and students are cordially invited, and we encourage ResMa, PhD students, and postdocs to participate. Places are limited. Best to be on time. ResMA students can earn ECTS for attendance. For more information, please contact the organizers.


For more information, or to subscribe to our mailing list, contact the organizers: Pepita Hesselberth and Yasco Horsman.


25 October 2017

David Gauthier – On the (Il)Legibility of the Cut (and the Un-Cut) in Computation

Cuts are fascinating operators in Mathematics. From the notorious Dedekind cut to modern Catastrophe theory, the notion of the cut has been the very cornerstone of seminal mathematical constructs. As mathematician René Thom once put it: “Pour moi, la mathématique, c’est la conquête du continu par le discret.” In this talk, rather than solely addressing cuts in Mathematics, David Gauthier (University of Amsterdam) will focus on how cuts are constructed and made operational in modern computing machinery. From the notion of electricity to the one of bits (digital/analog), and from the notions of symbolic instructions to the one of hardware execution (computation), the diverse loci of cuts within our computational equipment will be staged and interrogated.

David Gauthier is an ASCA-based PhD Fellow of the Netherlands Institute of Cultural Analysis (NICA). His research explores what technological errors can reveal about the various processes of machinic subjugation sustained by new media.


29 November 2017

Ingrid Hoofd Automating the Humanities: Big Data, Neoliberalisation, and the Future of Critique

Proponents of big data in the humanities embrace its potential for new insights, while opponents lament its encroachment, arguing that it marks the demise of rich humanistic traditions. In this talk, Ingrid Hoofd (Utrecht University) proposes that the turn to big data in the humanities signals a profounder issue haunting the ‘old’ and the ‘new’ neoliberal university. This issue finds its expression in the paradoxical claims that big data renders its object of analysis more superficial (unknowable) as well as more penetrable (knowable). The crisis of the university today, Hoofd argues, consists therefore not simply of a neoliberalisation, but of the acceleration of the university’s unfinishable mission – a conclusion that has huge consequences for critical theory.

Ingrid Hoofd is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Media and Culture at Utrecht University. She is the author of, among others, Higher Education and Technological Acceleration: the Disintegration of University Teaching and Research (Palgrave, 2016).


28 February 2018

Florian Sprenger – Continuity and Disconnection, Flows and Bursts: on the Interruption of Communication 

In this talk Florian Sprenger (Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main) explores the prehistory of the discourses of connectivity that we see ourselves confronted with today. Focusing on early electric telegraphy in particular, Sprenger argues that, as electric telegraphy was initially conceived of as a medium of immediacy (and community), it already fostered what, with hindsight, can be called a phantasm of connectivity. Situating this phantasm against the backdrop of media theories’ own fascination with immediacy, Sprenger scrutinizes the concepts of immediacy and community as concepts of connectivity, in part by calling attention to possibility of disconnection that they negate.

Florian Sprenger is a Junior Professor for Media and Cultural Studies at the Institute for Theatre-, Film- and Media Studies at Goethe-University Frankfurt. He is the author of, among others, The Politics of Micro-Decisions: Edward Snowden, Net Neutrality, and the Architectures of the Internet (2015).


28 March 2018

Ekaterina Kalinina – Uncertainty of Digital Archives: Exploring Nostalgia and Civic Engagement

In this talk, Ekaterina Kalinina (Södertörn University/ University of Copenhagen) looks into online archiving practices on social media as specific practices of civic engagement. Focussing in particula on Russian community sanctioned archives, she explores how these archives serve to collect and preserve information on, and memories about, vanishing architectural gems by soliciting contributions from community members, as well as by actively protesting against the demolition of urban landscapes in Russia. Rather than documents in a strict sense, these archives’ content, Kalinina argues, form a collection of nostalgically tainted monuments to a transient present, therewith functioning as a medial infrastructure in the staging of a new conception of communal relations, and as a device to frame a newly emerging conception of individuality.

Ekaterina Kalinina is a postdoctoral researcher at Department of Art and Cultural Studies at Copenhagen University, Denmark. In her current project on the Uncertainty of Digital Archives she explores the role of affective mnemonic experiences, such as nostalgia, in triggering social mobilization in digital and physical environments.



The series is made possible with the generous support of NICA and LUCAS.

Fatties: Politics of Volume

Call for Proposals NICA/ASCA Symposium
Organized by the Political Fatties (Vasiliki Lazaridou, Hodan Warsame and Sofia Apostolidou),
5 January 2018
Confirmed Keynote Speaker: Dr Cat Pausé

Being a fatty is a political position. The system that devalues fat embodiments is not arbitrary and it does not exist in a vacuum. It is part of a bigger picture, one that classifies white, masculine, straight, “healthy” bodies as the ones worthy of respect, or humanity. Even within the community of fat activism, the same problematic aesthetics are reproduced: smooth, white bodies, free of hair or cellulite, bodies that perform only a specific type of femininity. These aesthetics, based on centuries of colonialism and racism, continues to be reproduced even inside the supposedly politically critical communities of fat, queer, and anarchist activists.

The way fatness is represented by the media  creates a very specific (limited) space for fat bodies which, in turn, dictates a certain way of perceiving one’s self and thus strictly shape fat people’s sense of embodiment. On the other side of this, the recent  growth of  “body positivity” narratives in media from the english speaking paradigm has motivated many people to come together and think critically around body size and its politics, highlighting at the same time the need for nuanced and intersectional critique, that analyzes fatness not as a monolithic embodiment but instead as an experience situated across identities, affiliations, cultures and geographical location.

We call for researchers, activists and artists that problematize, analyze and reflect on the ways fatness is experienced, marginalized, and represented both within mainstream media and institutions as well as within body positive/fat acceptance spaces.

Topics may include (but are not limited to) :

  • Fat Activism
  • Fatness and Queerness
  • Fat femininities/fat masculinities
  • Fat representation and globalisation
  • Cyber communities and fat identity
  • Fetish and kink communities
  • Fatness and race
  • Fatness and ethnicity
  • Fatness and colonialism
  • Fatness and family structures
  • Fatness and institutional discrimination
  • BBW/BHM scenes and spaces
  • Fatness and trauma
  • Fatness and sexual capital/the politics of desire
  • Feeders/Feedees, Bears/Chasers: fat related sexual interactions and communities
  • Sizeism in fatshion
  • Sizeism within fat acceptance discourses
  • Fatness and posthuman embodiments
  • Fatness and medicalisation
  • Concepts of fatness across cultural/geographical locations
  • Gendered or sexualised fatness in public space
  • The aesthetics of fat
  • Fatness and architecture/public spaces
  • Fatness in the performing arts
  • Fatness and disability
  • The politics of eating/ food moralism

We will consider contributions in the following formats:

  • Research papers for 15/20 minute presentations
  • Workshop proposals
  • Performances/other artistic media
  • Journalistic and/or polemical presentations

Proposals should be no longer than 300 words and include a short bio.
Proposals should be submitted to no later than November 20th 2017.
More info at

Playstation Dreamworld, with Alfie Brown

Date: Wednesday 10th January 2018
Time: masterclass 2.00-4.00 pm, talk 5.00-6.00 pm
Location: TBA
Organizer: Ben Moore (Dept of English, UvA)
Register: contact Eloe Kingma at (be sure to specify your home institution and programme)

As the phenomenon of Pokémon Go made clear in 2016, videogaming now takes place not in a separate sphere, isolated from the mainstream of modern capitalist society, but at society’s very centre. The structure of dream consciousness promoted by gaming inescapably shapes our world, arising from the multitude of screens that surround us and mediate the way we perceive the everyday world, as well as its possible futures and our role within them. Alfie Bown’s new book argues that such ubiquity should not be understood purely in terms of ideological control however, or as merely another way in which leisure time is commodified for the benefit of narrow economic interests; rather, drawing on Lacanian dream  analysis, we can find videogaming to be a subtle and even subversive space, which holds the potential to reshape the politics of the Left even as it serves the domination of a hegemonic capitalist consensus. Drawing on insights from Bown’s work, this event provides a chance to explore the link between videogaming, psychoanalysis and capitalism, and to reconsider the relevance of what we might call ‘capitalist dream analysis’ for cultural analysis and practice more widely.

Slavoj Žižek writes of The Playstation Dreamworld: ‘It is not that we can understand the impact of these games only through the analysis of our social reality – it’s also the other way round: to understand how our societies work you have to know video games  And Alfie Bown does this at such a high level that he produces an instant classic, a book that everyone who seeks to find a way in our confused social life will have to read. THE PLAYSTATION DREAMWORLD is unputdownable. Once you start reading it you will get addicted to it… as in a good  video game!’ For Žižek’s discussion of Bown’s previous book, Enjoying It, see

In its interest in cultural analysis and psychoanalysis, this event can loosely be considered as a sequel to the ASCA/NICA ‘Everyday Analysis and Politactics’ session held in May 2017, although no previous knowledge of the earlier session will be assumed.

There will be two parts to the day: a masterclass led by Alfie Bown and Ben Moore aimed at postgraduate students (although all are welcome), and a talk by Alfie Bown followed by questions/discussion. Readings will be distributed in advance of the masterclass for registered participants. No preparation is required for the talk.

1EC is available for registered postgraduate students who attend both parts of the event.

Alfie Bown is the author of Enjoying It: Candy Crush and Capitalism (Zero Books, 2015), The Playstation Dreamworld (Polity, 2017) and In the Event of Laughter: Hegelianism, Psychoanalysis and Comedy (forthcoming, 2018), as well as founding editor of Hong Kong Review of Books ( and co-editor of the Everyday Analysis project, which has published three volumes of collected essays and is now in partnership with New Socialist ( He is an Assistant Professor of Literature at HSMC, Hong Kong

The Spectral Turn

LUCAS Theory Seminar Fall 2017

As proposed by Ali Shobeiri, the coming semester the theory seminar will be devoted to the contemporary fascination with ghosts and haunting, the so-called spectral turn, a fascinating and complex topic because of its many manifestations. Most of the essays that will be read are from The Spectralities Reader, put together by Esther Peeren and Maria del Pilar Blanco.

*Although not the whole book will be read, more than half of the texts are assigned, so everybody is supposed to buy the reader:  María del Pilar Blanco and Esther Peeren, The Spectralities Reader. Ghosts and Haunting in Contemporary Cultural Theory (London: Bloomsbury, 2013). The other assigned texts will be send to everybody, after having registered for this seminar.

* Those who want to participate have to register by sending an email to Ernst van Alphen:

* The seminar takes place in Lipsius 236.

* Meetings start at 15:15 in the afternoon and end around 18.00.



28 September: Lipsius 236


– María del Pilar Blanco and Esther Peeren, “The Spectral Turn: Introduction”, in The Spectralities Reader , pp. 31-36

– Julian Wolfreys, “Preface: On Textual Haunting”, The Spectralities Reader, 69-74

– Colin Davis, État Présent: Hauntology, Spectres and Phantoms, in The Spectralities Reader, pp. 53-60

– Roger Luckhorst, “The Contemporary London Gothic and the Limits of the ‘Spectral Turn’,” The Spectralities Reader, pp. 75-88

12 October: Lipsius 236

Time, History

– Jacques Derrida, “Injunctions of Marx”, in Spectres of Marx, Translated from the French by Peggy Kamuf, (Routledge 1994), pp 1-60 pp.

– Achille Mbembe, “from Life, Sovereignty, and Terror in the Fiction of Amos Tutuola”, in The Spectralities Reader, 131-150

– Peter Hitchcock, “from ( ) of Ghosts”, in The Spectralities Reader, pp. 175-196

2 November: Lipsius 236


– Tom Gunning “To Scan a Ghost: The Ontology of Mediated Vision”, in The Spectralities Reader, pp. 207-244

– Jacques Derrida and Bernard Stiegler,“Spectrographies”, in The Spectralities Reader ()

– Ernst van Alphen, “Blurred Images, in Failed Images: Photography and its Counter-Practices (in press)

16 November: Lipsius 236


“Spectral Subjectivities: Gender, Sexuality, Race”, in The Spectralities Reader, pp. 309-316

– Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, “from Ghostwriting”, in The Spectralities Reader, 317-334

– Carla Freccero, “Queer Spectrality: Haunting the Past”, in The Spectralities Reader, pp. 335-360

– Nicolas Abraham and Nicholas Rand, “The Shell and the Kernel”,

Diacritics, Vol. 9, No. 1, The Tropology of Freud (Spring, 1979), pp. 15-28

14 December : Lipsius 236


– Anthony Vidler, “Buried Alive”, in The Spectralities Reader, pp. 403-414

– Michael Mayerfeld Bell,  “The Ghosts of Place”, Theory and Society 26, 6 (December 1997), pp. 813-36

– Ulrich Baer, “To Give Memory a Place:Contem porary Holocaust Photography and the Landscape Tradition”, in The Spectralities Reader, pp. 415-444

– Giorgio Agamben, “On the uses and Disadvantages of Living among Specters, in The Spectralities Reader, pp. 473-478


The Icon as Cultural Model: Past, Present and Future

International Conference
25th-26th of January 2018, Amsterdam

Organized by the Humanities Department of the Open University, the Netherlands
supported by NICA

Journalists, artists and scholars, among others, tend to refer to iconic events or images from the past in order to better understand present-day developments. For example, in the wake of the American elections media repeatedly referred to the iconic ‘years of crisis’ of the thirties of the last century. Also, they recalled George Orwell’s iconic depiction of a dystopian society from his novel 1984 to contextualize the use of ‘alternative facts’. In this respect, the icon functions as a model that generates cultural meaning by connecting past and present. But the icon not only shapes our (collective) image of the present, nor does it merely re-evaluate our image of the past. It also opens up potential scenarios for the future – be it brilliant or gloomy.

The making of specific icons is a much-studied topic in cultural studies, literary studies, art history and even in the history of science. However, theoretical and/or synthesizing studies on how the icon functions as a cultural model from which we can learn how to act or perform are scarce. The conference ‘The Icon as Cultural Model’ wants to fill this gap.

First, it will do so by addressing different manifestations of the icon. Traditionally understood as a static visual image, the concept of the icon is also used to refer to:

  • a specific period (e.g. the thirties or sixties, the Enlightenment or Golden Age);
  • a specific place(e.g. Waterloo or Woodstock, cities like Amsterdam, Rome or New York, or imaginary places such as Orwell’s ‘Oceania’);
  • a specific person(e.g. Christ, Michelangelo, Mae West)

Static as the icon may be, its evaluation by different groups (artists, scholars, politicians) can change through time. Recently, scholars have shown an increased interest in phenomena linked to the theme of the icon: such as fan culture and celebrities, artists’ self-representation, cultural marketing and branding.

This poses the question why at present the search, and explication of, cultural models occurs to be highly relevant. By posing this question the conference’s second aim is to encourage reflection on how the icon has functioned and still functions as cultural model (and how it can be studied as such).

In addressing the icon as cultural model the conference explicitly wishes to bring together scholars from various disciplines such as art history, literary studies, history and philosophy. In this way the conference wishes to offer room for joint interdisciplinary reflection on the question how the study of cultural models may contribute to our understanding of the dynamics of culture in general.

Contributions can address, but are by no means limited to the following aspects:

  • How do periodical concepts like the ‘Golden Age’, ‘Enlightenment’ or ‘Renaissance’ function as icons? How does the evaluation of these concepts by artists and/or scholars change through time? And how can we study this shifting evaluation?
  • How do both general spatial notions such as the ‘city’ (as opposed to the ‘country’ or to ‘nature’) and specific places function as models for writers, philosophers and artists?
  • How do specific historical events become iconic? Who attributes power to these events? And how, why, and by whom are their cultural meanings rewritten?
  • How do artifacts such as novels, poems, paintings, sculptures, and films construct iconic images of the past and/or future? How can we study iconic representations within these artifacts?
  • How do specific historical persons function as icons in art, philosophy and scholarship? And how can we study these cases in the broader context of the study of cultural models?

Papers will be selected for publishing in the conference proceedings.
NB The deadline for sending in abstracts is closed.

Information on the program, the keynotes and how to register will be published soon on the conference webpage

For questions contact Marieke Winkler via or