Main Content

Past and Current Research Projects

  • DFG Project | Screen History – Reconstruction of the Media Interrelations Between the Optical Lantern and Cinematography (1880-1930)

    Principal investigator: Dr. Sabine Lenk (Philipps-Universität Marburg). Student Assistant: B.A. Livia Rebekka Weller

    Duration: 2022-2025

    Why is a distinction made today between Cinema / Film Studies and Lantern Studies when the two media were b o t h present in all industrialised Western countries from the 1890s until the 1970s, and were also closely linked in many respects during the first 40 years of cinema’s existence? This question is at the centre of a research project funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and based at Philipps-Universität Marburg's Media Studies department.

    By the end of the 19th century, the projection lantern had been in existence for more than 200 years. It had already undergone several transformations and had adapted to new modes of operation, when a new accessory was added to it: a metallic device allowed to project a strip of celluloid with photographs of phases of movements onto a screen. 

    Film historians still consider the projection lantern to be a precursor of cinematography rather than recognising it as an autonomous medium. The project will examine the reasons why this commonplace still persists today. The project Screen History focuses on Germany and France in the period between 1880 and 1930 and uses empirical methods as well as analyses of sources to investigate the various historical interrelations between the two media during this period. 

    To do so, the project cooperates with Media/Rep to digitise media journals that previously were incompletely accessible or totally inaccessible. From 2024 onward, thus while the research is still ongoing, results will be made available to the scientific community and media enthusiasts in a separate Screen History section of Media/Rep: scans of selected original documents from the 19th and 20th centuries will be presented with a contextualising introduction.

  • DiCi-Hub (Digital Cinema Hub): A Research Hub for Digital Film Studies

    Principal investigators: Prof. Dr. Malte Hagener (Philipps-Universität Marburg), Prof. Dr. Yvonne Zimmermann (Philipps-Universität Marburg), Prof. Dr. Vinzenz Hediger (Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main), Prof. Dr. Alexandra Schneider (Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz)
    Coordination: Josephine Diecke (Philipps-Universität Marburg)
    Research Associates: Dr. Marcel Förster (Philipps-Universität Marburg), Isadora Campregher Paiva (Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main), Nicole Braida (Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz ), Frauke Pirk (Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz)

    Duration: April 2021 – March 2026

    The joint project DiCi-Hub brings together three spatially contiguous research universities with internationally visible film studies in the Rhein-Main-Mittelhessen region (Philipps-University Marburg, Goethe-University Frankfurt, Johannes Gutenberg-University Mainz) and a strong track record of joint collaborative research to develop new conceptual frameworks and methodologies. In particular, DiCi-Hub combines hermeneutical and post- hermeneutical analytics of film with new digital tools and methods to reposition film studies as a discipline that turns the challenge of the digital into an opportunity for both research and teaching. With a five year work plan focusing on the study of three key areas of film culture–networks, formats, and markets–and a series of joint research and training elements for all project participants and other stakeholders from film studies and adjacent disciplines, DiCi-Hub strengthens the position of film studies in the larger field of the humanities and social sciences as a discipline dedicated to the theoretical, aesthetic and historical examination of moving images – an expertise of growing relevance in a world in which the moving image is rapidly becoming a default mode of communication. DiCi-Hub is funded by the Volkswagen Foundation as part of the funding initiative "Weltwissen - Strukturelle Stärkung kleiner Fächer" (World Knowledge - Structural Strengthening of Small Subjects).

    Visit the project’s website for more information!

  • NFDI4Culture – Consortium for Research Data on Tangible and Intangible Cultural Heritage

    Staff of the Philipps-University Marburg involved: Prof. Dr. Malte Hagener, Dr. Dietmar Kammerer, Alexander Stark, Andrea Polywka, Christoph Eggersglüß

    Duration: 2020–2025

    As part of the project National Research Data Infrastructure (NFDI), the NFDI4Culture consortium is dedicated to research data on tangible and intangible cultural assets. The project is intended to help systematically open up, sustainably secure, make accessible and network scientific data resources in line with demand. NFDI4Culture is jointly funded by the federal goverments and the state and managed by the DFG. In the upcoming years, the initiative, currently consisting of nine host institutions, eleven scientific societies, and fifty-two partners, will advance the development of a user-centered and science-driven infrastructure in this field. Through the digital capturing as well as data-based research of cultural assets, the consortium is aiming to support the specialist communities of art history, architecture, musicology, theater, film, and media studies in their research interests and to bring them together and advise them with regard to their needs.
    The Institute of Media Studies at Philipps-Universität Marburg contributes its professional expertise to NFDI4Culture in several areas. The Cultural Research Data Academy is led by Prof. Dr. Malte Hagener together with Prof. Dr. Andreas Münzmay (University of Paderborn). In the coming years, the CRDA is tasked with bundling existing subject-specific and needs-based training opportunities in the area of data and code literacy, as well as developing its own services, toolkits, and competency frameworks. In Marburg, the research fellows are Alexander Stark, Andrea Polywka and Christoph Eggersglüß. Martin Albrecht-Hohmaier, Katharina Bergmann and Kristina Richts-Matthaei work at the University of Paderborn.
    Andrea Polywka also works with institutions from the cultural heritage sector, especially film heritage institutions. In this regard, she is responsible for the development of quality criteria, recommendations, and advice for researchers and lecturers, as well as staff from the GLAM sector (Galleries, Libraries, Archives, Museums).
    In the task area Data Publication and Data Availability (UB Heidelberg / SLUB Dresden), Christoph Eggersglüß is also dedicated to the collection and mapping as well as the further development of standards data vocabularies, repositories and reusable reference implementations.
    In the Culture Coordination Office, which is in charge of governance tasks for the consortium, Dietmar Kammerer is the scientific coordinator for the subprojects Standards, Data Quality and Curation, and Cultural Research Data Academy. He also acts as liaison between the central governance, which is located at the Academy of Sciences and Literature in Mainz, and the Marburg project parts of NFDI4Culture.

    Visit the project's website for more information!
  • BMBF Research Group | Aesthetics of Access. Visualizing Research Data on Women in Film History (DAVIF)

    Principal investigator: Dr. Sarah-Mai Dang (Philipps-Universität Marburg); Research Associates: M.A. Marlene Leonie Biebricher, M.A. Pauline Junginger; Student Assistant: B.A. Yolanda Well Rull

    Duration: April 2021 – March 2025     

    The goal of the research group, funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), is to explore the aesthetics of access in light of the growing production and application of data. It investigates current forms of data-driven re/presentations and explores creative use of historical research data. In doing so, the project approaches the subject both from a theoretical and practical perspective. In addition to case studies, it creates and analyzes data visualizations (e.g. graphics, data essays, i-docs) that facilitate access to aggregated research data on women’s global involvement in early cinema. For this purpose the project has the privilege to collaborate with the Women Film Pioneers Project (WFPP) at Columbia University, the German Film Institute & Film Museum (DFF), and the working group Graphics and Multimedia at Philipps University Marburg. The film and media studies project aims to contribute to a fruitful debate on digital tools and methods in the international context of digital humanities. It seeks to foster the critical discourse on scholarly knowledge production, research data, and open science. 

    Visit the project's website for more information!

  • DFG Project | Aesthetics of Occidentalism. Yücel Çakmaklı's Islamic-Turkistic Millî Sinema ('National Cinema') (1964-2006)

    Project leader: Dr. Ömer Alkin (Philipps-Universität Marburg)

    Duration: 2020-2023

    For more than thirty years, scientists have been exploring different concepts of 'Occidentalism'. Most of this research analyzes the dichotomic relationship between the Orient and the Occident and the complex discursive and historical entanglements in different regional and national contexts. Due to the discourse analytical approach of most of these investigations, which are oriented towards textuality, they neglect the media aesthetic features of the discourses. Although the investigations focus on radio broadcasts, photographs or other types of media, the non-textual media-aesthetic qualities (image, sound) are hardly considered. The consequence is that the aesthetic dimension of discourses remains analytically untouched. In order to understand the role of media-aesthetic features of discourses in the context of the constitution of Occidentalism, the research project pursues the following central question: How do media aesthetic qualities of discourses contribute to the constitution of Occidentalist discourses, i.e. discourses that are devaluing and demarcating the West in such a way that a non-Western identity is stabilized and consolidated? This overriding question is pursued by an example that has been neglected so far. The research project examines the cinematic work of the founder of Islamic cinema in Turkey, Yücel Çakmaklı (1943-2009). It analyzes his works in order to work out how the film aesthetic cinematically translates the Occidentalist stance of the director. The analysis of his films highlights the recurring film aesthetic means which produce Occidentalist discourses that are anti-Western and serve to stabilize one's own non-Western identity. In doing so, the analysis focuses on identifying recurring cinematic strategies in a category-building way, i.e. empirically saturated across the entire oeuvre of the director. This makes it possible to heuristically evaluate further anti-Western cinematic discourses as Occidentalist and to assess the aesthetic achievements of films in the realization of such evaluations. The two final research questions are thus: Which recurring cinematic methods in the service of Occidentalist discourse strategies can be found in the oeuvre of the discourse founder of Islamic cinema in Turkey, Yücel Çakmaklı? Into what categories can these procedures be subdivided, so that the contribution of film-aesthetic features for the implementation of Occidentalist discourses becomes clear?

  • DFG Project | Pictorial Picture Critique in Social Media. Explicit and Tacit Theorizing of the Digital Image (priority programme "The Digital Image")

    Project leader: Prof. Dr. Jens Ruchatz (Philipps-Universität Marburg); Research fellow: Kevin Pauliks, M.A.

    Duration: 2019-2022

    The project will identify and classify user-generated forms of pictorial picture critique, in order to discern elements of a theory of the digital image – one which develops from the inside perspective of digital images themselves. Indeed, on social media platforms, pictures that are critiquing other pictures show and enact knowledge about the diffuse state of the digital image. Knowledge about pictures is used both to critique pictures and to express such a critique pictorially. The project sets out to reveal the (explicit and tacit) knowledge manifested in user-generated forms of pictorial picture critique. It will do so by asking, on the one hand, which formal aspects of the digital image are addressed; and, on the other hand, how they are used with the intention of criticizing pictures. The resulting pictorial knowledge showcases image criticism as an image practice, which explicitly as well as implicitly theorizes the mediality of the digital image.
    From a methodological point of view, the project takes a praxeological stand, understanding pictures as ‘materialized’ practice. It entails that, by taking on a form, pictures become a ‘formed practice,’ in as much as the practice is inscribed into the picture. The projects aims to draw its theoretical knowledge about the digital image from these instances of ‘materialized’ practice. On social media, at least five ‘materialized’ practices of pictorial picture critique can be identified: editing, imitating, captioning, tagging and curating. Each of these critical practices involves different Internet phenomena (e.g. reaction Photoshops, image macros or photo fads) on social media platforms such as 4chan, Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, Twitter, etc. In the course of the project’s research, forms of pictorial picture critique shall be examined in light of the mediatic knowledge that they construct on the digital image.

    Visit the project's website for more information!

  • BMBF Project | „But I’m not filming! I’m just doing a bit of video…“ Filmische Aneignungsprozesse von Videos der populären Aufstandsbewegungen 2009-11 im Mittleren Osten und Nordafrika

    Project leader: Dr. Alena Strohmaier (Philipps-Universität Marburg)

    Duration: 2019-2023

    The Green Movement in Iran 2009 and the Arab Spring 2011 were strongly documented by so called "citizen journalists", i.e. private persons/amateurs, with digital/mobile hand cameras who disseminated them via social media. Some of these videos were reused and appropriated in documentary films by professional filmmakers. The project focuses on the analysis of these cinematic processes of appropriation of the videos of the popular uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region 2009-11. The concept of circulation becomes a key concept to think various (media) phenomena thought together: (1) Forms of circulation: Development of a regional approach to film studies in order to make a substantial contribution to the understanding of moving images of the popular uprisings in the MENA region; (2) Circulation of forms: Deepening the analyses along the question of which aesthetic and narrative changes the usually short videos undergo when they find their way into a feature-length film. In close cooperation with the Department of Arabic Studies at the Center for Near and Middle East Studies of the Philipps-Universität Marburg, the project thus enables an expanded understanding of moving images of popular uprisings in the MENA region and their appropriations in other cinematic and geographical contexts, with the aim of questioning and further developing current research practices on moving images in and of the MENA region in a systematic development of a regional approach to film studies. The project thus forms a bridge that brings the two small disciplines closer together and thus opens up new perspectives in this young interdisciplinary field.

    Visit the project's website for more information!
  • DFG Research Network | New Directions in Film Historiography. Digital Tools and Methods in Film and Media Studies

    Project leader: Dr. Sarah-Mai Dang (Philipps-Universität Marburg)

    Duration: 2019-2022

    The international research network funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) explores how digital technologies shape our understanding of film and cinema history from a media studies perspective. In order to analyze the epistemic, conceptual, and methodological frameworks of digital film historiography, the 15 network members bring together theory with practice. It is assumed that the challenges and potentials of digital technologies can best be understood in its far-reaching dimensions when both applied and critically reflected. Besides film and media studies, the researchers draw on approaches from various disciplines by spanning history, software studies, library and archive studies, and computerscience.

    Visit the project's website for more information!

  • DFG Project | Performative Configurations of the Art of Projection for the Popular Transfer of Knowledge. Media Archaeological Case Studies in the History of Useful Media and the Screen

    Project leaders: Prof. Dr. Yvonne Zimmermann (Philipps-Universität Marburg)/Prof. Dr. Claudine Moulin (Trier Center for Digital Humanities (TCDH) der Universität Trier); Senior Researcher: Dr. Ludwig Vogl-Bienek (Philipps-Universität Marburg)

    Duration: 2019-2021

    The project conducts basic research into the history of time-based ‘useful media’. It aims at exploring the historical art of projection as visual and performative mass medium in the ‘long’ 19th Century. At that time, the popular transfer of knowledge became the dominant field of the art of projection and established the projection of images on a screen as a cultural technique. As ‘useful medium’, the art of projection served to convey diverse subjects in a lively way and to make educational content attractive. Among contemporaries, the art of projection was regarded as the ideal link between entertainment and instruction.
    The project starts from the hypothesis that the art of projection led to a performatization of the popular transfer of knowledge (Performativierung der populären Wissensvermittlung durch die Projektionskunst). This performatization was realized in multiple performative configurations that have shaped the development of modern time-based AV media for knowledge transfer considerably. To examine the art of projection as an exhibition event, the project adopts a media archaeological approach. It focuses on three widespread dispositifs of the art of projection and studies them as significant forms of performatization in the popular transfer of knowledge: 1) the transformation of phantasmagoria shows from the context of entertainment to the context of imparting knowledge (1820-1830); 2) the staging of knowledge transfer in spectacular performance events for popular education, taking the example of the so-called dissolving views (1858-1888); 3) the prevalence and institutionalization of the art of projection in its use as object lesson in popular education and teaching (1870-1919). Based on a selection of surviving works (series of lantern slides, lecture texts), historical devices and written sources, the project makes a basic contribution to contemporary research approaches towards an archaeology of the screen and performative ‘useful media’. Another aim of the project is to internationally valorize archival material held in German archives to which access has so far been limited by making it visible and accessible.
    The research project is carried out in cooperation with the department of Media Studies at the University of Marburg (Prof. Dr. Yvonne Zimmermann) and the Trier Center for Digital Humanities (TCDH), University of Trier (Prof. Dr. Claudine Moulin). Senior researcher based at University of Marburg is Dr. Ludwig Vogl-Bienek. The case studies on the performatization of the popular transfer of knowledge in the three examined dispositifs and the selected archival editions elaborated in Marburg will be published on the online platform eLaterna – Historical Art of Projection, which has been developed by the TCDH in cooperation with the department of Media Studies at the University of Trier.

  • DFG Project | Asta Nielsen – The International Film Star and the Introduction of the Star System 1911-1914

    Project leaders: Prof. Dr. Yvonne Zimmermann (Philipps-Universität Marburg), Prof. Dr. Martin Loiperdinger (Universität Trier); Research fellows: Victor Chavez (Philipps-Universität Marburg), Friederike Grimm (Universität Trier)

    Duration: 2018-2021

    This project takes Asta Nielsen, the first international film star of the feature film business emerging in the early 1910s, as an example to study the media transition from short film programs to feature film exhibition. Already in May 1911, a groundbreaking business model was contracted in Frankfurt that anticipated the international star system of the following decades, which included blind and block booking, exclusive exhibition rights, and the use of a film star as a brand. The main goal of the project is to retrieve the facts & figures of the marketing campaign of the Asta Nielsen Series during the seasons 1911/12, 1912/13 and 1913/14. For that purpose, the project focuses on the home markets Germany and Austria-Hungary as well as on the foreign markets Great Britain and Australia. The project will be conducted by the Media Studies Departments at the universities of Marburg and Trier. The research design and the methodological framework are conceptualized as a two-step procedure: The first year is dedicated to collecting and interpreting adverts on the exhibition of the Asta Nielsen Series published in the local press of around 50 cities and towns in Germany and about 20 cities and towns in Austria-Hungary, Great Britain and Australia. These adverts cover the three cinema seasons that started on August 1st, 1911 and ended on July 31st (just before the outbreak of the First World War, which interrupted Asta Nielsen’s career temporarily). Building upon the material basis retrieved in the first year, the local cinema histories of 5 cities and towns from each of the 4 countries will be analyzed in the second year. The sample of cities and towns selected to examine the different local environments of the Asta Nielsen Series in regard to cinema programming and to other entertainment programs ranges from big cities, industrial towns, middle-range regional centers and university cities to small rural towns. The third year is dedicated to the writing of two dissertations: one on the distribution and exhibition of the three Asta Nielsen Series in the home-markets of Germany and Austria-Hungary, and the other on the distribution and exhibition of the respective Series in the foreign markets of Great Britain and Australia. The sustainability of the project will be ensured through online access to data collected in the first year: All adverts from the trade press and the local press will be entered into the already existing Importing Asta Nielsen Database.

  • DFG Project | Seeing Film between the Lines: Remediation and Aesthetics of the Film Periodical

    Project leader: Dr. Vincent Fröhlich (Philipps-Universität Marburg)

    Duration: 2020-2023

    Subproject 8 of the research group "Journale Literature" explores media relations in illustrated film magazines. What is understood as a photograph and as a film when approaching these media from the perspective of the magazine? How are special interest magazines and their themes also produced visually in competition with, in opposition to, but also in accompaniment to other (print) media? The trio of photography, film and magazine makes it possible to think about media in order to look at the third from one or two of the media. How a dissolution of the boundaries of the magazine takes place will also be considered by examining the film magazine within different media alliances of other print publications (posters, collectibles, other periodicals, etc.). The project wants to address these questions with a research corpus consisting of German and US-American illustrated magazines from the beginnings until the 1970s.

    Visit the project's website for more information!

  • DFG Heisenberg Fellowship | Transdisciplinary Networks of Films on Art, Visual Anthropology and Expanded Cinema from the 1950s to the 1970s

    Project leader: PD Dr. Henning Engelke; Research fellow: Sophia Gräfe, M.A.

    Duration: October 2017 -

    Films on Art, ethnographic film and expanded cinema are usually regarded as distinct cinematic genres. They are studied separately within the respective academic disciplines of art history, visual anthropology, and film and media studies. The project takes the opposite approach by investigating networks of exchange between these fields, unfolding in the U.S. from the 1950s to the 1970s. It takes its starting point from the observation that films on art, ethnographic film and expanded cinema not only shared a number of intriguing conceptual similarities. Rather, they seem to have been at the core of an extensive transdisciplinary exchange of ideas, technologies and procedures that included close institutional and personal ties. Considering these networks as part of broader transformations in media cultures, epistemologies, educational politics and artistic practices, the project seeks to uncover alternative histories of technological change and changing conceptions of perception, cognition and knowledge. The focus is on specific fields of inquiry, including, amongst others, Frank Stauffacher and Allon Schoener’s films on artists and artistic practices made for the San Francisco Museum of Art, Allen Downs’s use of film in art education at the University of Minnesota, Sol Worth’s media-anthropological studies of visual communication and cinematic perception, the use of ethnographic films in the teaching program Man, a Course of Study (MACOS), expanded cinema artist Scott Bartlett’s film and video classes, and artistic research at the Center for Media Study in Buffalo, N.Y. The particular significance of these fields of inquiry, most of which have received little scholarly attention to date, results from their involvement in influential contexts of research in visual/non-verbal communication, the anthropology of perception and learning, and cognitive science. They also intersect with the formation of academic film studies in the U.S. and the development of major media theories. Regarding films on art, ethnographic film and expanded cinema as part of larger transdisciplinary networks, thus brings into focus not only questions concerning the tensions between aesthetic and informational concepts of perception and cognition, but also the significance of ideas on cultural difference and alterity for media theories (and the globalization of media), as well as the interrelations between educational uses of film as part of multimedia learning environments and the utopian aesthetic of expanded cinema approaches. Conceived as a media archeological study of educational and research film, the project promises insights into the historical preconditions of – and critical perspectives on – recent debates on network society, media epistemologies and algorithmic culture.

    Visit the project's website for more information!

  • DFG Project | Media Disturbances. The Structures and Functions of Special News Broadcasts in German Political Media Culture

    Project leaders: Prof. Dr. Andreas Dörner (Philipps-Universität Marburg), Prof. Dr. Ludgera Vogt (Bergische Universität Wuppertal)

    Duration: October 2016 - March 2020

    Disturbances are seen as a disruption of a functional logic. They signify restrictions of a socially defined normality and are productive for modern societies, because they remain in the memory and induce changes. Disturbances create a common understanding of what is recognized as “normal”, and they assert a need to restore normality.
    The construction and communication of disturbances occurs through mass media. Within this process, special news broadcasts play a central role. These programs, mostly provided by public stations, deal with causes, with persons responsible for the disturbances, with victims and affected persons, with the extent of the problem and with perspectives on how to solve the problems. In addition, these programs also lead a discussion about the consequences of a resolution and the perspectives of a following normalization.
    The project will focus on the coverage of disturbances and mechanisms of dealing with them by and within the special broadcasts. It will examine how "disturbances", "resolutions", "consequences of resolutions", and the "re-establishment of a (symbolic) order" are discussed, defined, staged and (ritually) processed. This is done in the context of five research questions:
    1. What is the functional logic of special news broadcasts? What are the criteria for the process of selection? How are programming and editorial decisions made? How does the production process work?
    2. What are the aesthetical elements that contribute to the medial construction and resolution of disturbances (framing, program flow, dramaturgy, studio setting, visual language etc.)?
    3. What are the symbolic resources used in the broadcasts?
    4. How do the special broadcasts develop their potentials to resolve disturbances, normalize the situation and re-establish the symbolical order?
    5. What is the role of social media applications – in particular in the interaction with the audience – in the programs?
    The empirical part of the analysis will make use of the concept of ethnographically embedded video analysis. First, we will analyze audiovisual data (recordings of about 120 special news broadcasts). Second, we will interview media staff persons acting in front of and behind the cameras. Finally, document analyses will complete the empirical strategy together with observational methods.
    Five dimensions of processing disturbances through special news broadcasts will be examined in detail: intensity, topicity, temporality, performativity and mediality.
    The aim is to develop a typology of how the media construct and cover disturbances, their resolution, and the re-establishment of order. The results of the research promise new insights into the functioning of political media culture in a contemporary society.

    Visit the project's website for more information!