Making Media Theory – A Colloquium

A conference organized by lab co-director Ghislain Thibault, along with Mark Hayward (York University, Toronto) as part of the “Recovering Mechanology” project, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

What is the role of experimentation in the history of media studies? The creation and modification of things, instruments, devices, machines or media have often played a crucial role in the production and dissemination of media theory. The films and installations of John Akomfrah, Kittler’s modular synthesizer or the ongoing dialogue between media studies and design practice in the work of such scholars as Jacqueline Tyrwhitt are but a few examples of this tradition. Yet, these media experiments are often perceived as being of secondary importance – derivative, anecdotal or even trivial – compared to the significance and visibility granted to more traditional modes of knowledge production, such as text and publications.

Participants in this colloquium revisit the history of media studies in ways that draw attention to the importance of such media-based material experiments, non-traditional methodologies and practice-based initiatives. This event is an occasion to revisit and restore the role of things and experimentation in the making of theory. How does an attention to the history of experimental practices in media theory contribute to a reconfiguration of the histories, archives and futures of media studies? How does this call into question the disciplinary divides in the early days of media studies and its present manifestations? Participants take up the marginal, little-known, failed, forgotten, controversial or neglected experiments in the history of media studies to revisit the precursors, proto-theories and visionaries of the recent practice-based paradigms in media studies (including critical making, media archaeology or research-creation, to name a few).

Colloquium, May 11–12, 2018

9:00 to 16:30
Carrefour des arts et des sciences
Pavillon Lionel-Groulx
3150, rue Jean-Brillant, Salle / Room C-3061
Université de Montréal, Canada