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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Medienwissenschaft

Media Studies at Humboldt University Berlin

Extracts from the previous Magister Artis curriculum, translated and condensed by Wolfgang Ernst.

The curriculum (Magister Artis) in Media Studies which was inaugurated in 2003 and will be finally running out in 2014 has been designed with a decisively interdisciplinary perspective. Attached to the former Institute for Culture and Arts Studies (Philosophical Faculty III) the curriculum has been organized and performed at the previous Seminar for Media Studies (now Institute of Musicology and Media Studies). This affiliation provided for its characteristic profile, encompassing basic media-historical, media-archaeological and media-theoretical training; media-anthropological and media-economic training; history of technology and history of science; orientation towards practical implementation.

From the preface to the Magister Artis curriculum:

Media is understood as physical or artificial techniques of communication. The curriculum concentrates on technical media, thus corresponding with cultural and aesthetic change taking place in the age of ultra-technical media. Computing transforms cultural artefacts into digitized data, rendering them to networking and interaction and thereby creating new cultural practices. Media are being treated within a decisively academic analysis which keeps their reflection open for future transformation.

Media theories provide for the complex level to create comparative, epistemological and analytic media competence.  which is basic for media studies. Temporally deep content is being provided by a minute media-archaeological training. Next to the genealogy of images, writing and numbers in early cultures the highly differentiated media of contemporary culture are being focussed by the curriculum, encompassing cultural-anthropological, performative and operative media dramaturgies as well. Within the context of the Institute for Culture and Arts Studies an emphasis is put on the interface between historiy of science and the archaeology of cultural and aesthetic engineering.

Media competence can only be gained with an input of practical knowledge as well; thus the curriculum provides for practical media experience within and without the Seminar for Media Studies. The technical implementation of a Media Theatre, consisting in the combination of a Signal Processing Laboratory (computing) with a physical three-dimensional space for performative bodies allows for "theatrical" media analysis.

The curriculum concists of modular units, starting with the learning of single media in their technical and sensory qualities (acoustic and visual channels of communication, media based on symbols and numbers) and leading to comparative media theories, media history and economy within a performative context. The aim is to provide media competence: the scientific and critical reflection of contemporary media within a technical, historical, epistemological and theoretical context, in order to qualify students for action within a diversified media culture.

The curriculum takes place within a Magister Artium course and is being combined with other disciplines; thus media is checked against cultural content.

Function and description of the modules

Module 1: Media theories and media archaeology

Students are provided with an encompassing range of media theories and historical media knowledge. Reflectgive skills are being trained as well as an awareness of the dis/continuities in culture provided by media evolution.

Modul 2: Media economies and media organisation

The student learns about the basis economical models, systems and institutions of cross-media organization.

Modul 3: Acoustic and visual media

Knowledge is being trained in media which address themselves primarily to the eyes and the ears. Analogue and digital techniques of generating, storing, transmitting and distributing of acoustic, visual and audio-visual data are being treated. A focus is put on theory, history and aesthetic of time-based and time-critical media, taking examples from music, the performative arts, photography, film, television, radio, video and computing, aiming at media-specific competence for analysis.

Modul 4: Media based on writing and numbers

Symbolic systems (both writing and numbers) are basic cultural technologies which have lead to finally converging within the computer. The computer thus is the basic model for media anlysis within the curriculum, adressing questions back to media archaeology and the genealogy of cultural engineering.

Modul 5: Media performance and media anthropology

Media create realities by their performative power, provinding for new models of communication as well as for new anthropologies of individual and collective subjects. The reality-providing functions of media are being taught with historical and contemporary media models, aiming actively at media-dramaturgical competence.

Modul 6: Comparative media theory

With the differentiation of technical media in twentieth century and the emergence of a universial media machine (computer) the media-technological field and practice can only be integrated on a decisively comparative theoretical level. Comparative media theories are necessary for profound technical, epistemoplogical, historical, economical, communicative and performative media knowledge.

Modul 7: Media history

In this module students deepen their historical media competence to analyse the symbolical codes and technological laws governing, conditioning and modifying cultural practice. Media (r)evolutions are being faced as well as the competence to judge the current transormation of analogue into digital cultural engineering.

Modul 8: Media performance and media anthropology

In a profound way the mechanisms of sensory, communicative, symbolic and virtual interaction effected by media technologies are being learned and operatively trained.