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.


25 April 2018

Inge van de Ven – Monumental Novels: Big Books in Times of Big Data

What do the works of the authors Roberto Bolaño, Karen Tei Yamashita, Karl Ove Knausgard, Mark Z. Danielewski and books artists like Irma Boom have in common? The answer is not genre, geographical background, or thematic orientations, but rather: material characteristics of weight, length, bulk, size, and number of pages. In this talk, literary and media scholar Inge van de Ven (Tilburg University) addresses contemporary big books and novels in terms of the shift from the bound book to the newer materialities of the digital. Through an analysis of characteristics like hybridity, slowness, mediacy, and materiality, she examines big books’ bulk, their affective powers, and their ability to inhabit spaces, as part and parcel of their ways of making sense of our experiences in and of a changing media-landscape. She argues that monumental novels and big books make a double gesture of adaptation to, and provocation of, the shift to digital media and the ideologies of big data.

Inge van de Ven is Assistant Professor of Online Culture in the Department of Culture Studies at Tilburg University. She is writing a moderately-sized book on big books.



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