Matthias Koch


Matthias Koch
Am Sande 5
21335 Lüneburg

Matthias Koch has degrees in Media Studies and Romance Studies from the universities of Paderborn and Santiago de Compostela. He was a scholarship recipient and research associate at the DFG-funded research training group “Automatisms. Cultural Techniques for the Reduction of Complexity” (Paderborn), a fellow at the DCRL (Lüneburg), and is now research associate at the Centre for Digital Cultures (Lüneburg). Dissertation: “Methodology and Contemporary History of Media Studies and Media Historiography in Germany” (working title). Main areas of research: theory and history of media historiography, scientific history of media studies and cultural studies (Kulturwissenschaften). Co-founder of the working group “Media History” in the Society for Media Studies. Last articles: with Christian Köhler: „Wahnverwandtschaften 1900/1800: Friedrich Kittlers paranoische Medienhistoriografie“, in: Jahrbuch Technikphilosophie 2017 (being published); with Christian Köhler: „Aus der Zeit in den Raum: Zombologie, Posthistoire, Oberflächen“, in: Holl, Ute/Kaldrack, Irina/Miksch, Cyrill (Hg.): Oberflächen und Interfaces. Ästhetik und Politik filmischer Bilder, München: Fink 2016 (being published).



Methodology and Contemporary History of Media Historiography in German Media Studies

The project deals with the theory and history of media historical research in German Media Studies and thereby contributes to the historicization of said discipline. It focusses on the function of historical work in the process of Media Studies’ instutionalization and therefore takes the perspective of contemporary history, meaning that it starts in the 1960s and ends in present days.

Claiming a historical perspective, both on research subjects and the conditions of one’s own academic work, has become a major part of a certain collective concept of Media Studies: It is taken as self-evident that one needs to historicize. Connected to the concept of mediality, the spiral of permanent self-reflection has developed into a very popular interpretamen of Media Studies’ ‘calling’ and therefore also into a very successful motor of media research, specifically in its historical branch. For a major part, this is due to the reception of poststructuralist concepts since the late 1970s, a reception that, despite the popularity of said concepts, has only partially been discussed historically. In contrast to the foundation that contemporary media reseach finds in poststructuralism, the early media research from the 1960s and its different premises is paid much less attention. The ways of dealing with this problem of mediality, that has come to be obligatory for better parts of the discipline, can be well discussed by focusing on media historiography: It has to deal with the reciprocal relation of mediality/historicity on a number of levels (be it the respective theory of history, the sources and their critique or the historiographical narration). Furthermore, the degree to which media research has come to be institutionalized in Germany (be it in the form of university curricula, organs of publication, third party funded research or the formation of canons and schools) since the 1960s, a time, when this could in no way be anticipated, also invites a historiography of Media Studies.

So, in general, the project discusses the functions of historical perspectives, above all those of media historical research in the process of the institutionalization of Media Studies (or, with Ludwik Fleck: in the development of Media Studies type thought styles and thought collectives). On a second level, it discusses the discursive results of said research, i.e. specific media historiographical texts. Here, the ways in which these narrations work is examined: What theoretical premises, regarding history, media, and narration, underlie the respective text? What sources are discussed in which way and to what end? Which form of representation is used, e.g. with regard to aspects like continuity, discontinuity, or causality and which rhetoric can be identified? Such a meta-theoretical description promises insights into the mechanisms of media histories.

So, the project’s architecture combines a macro narration with micro analyses. This is due to the idea that contributing to a theory and history of media historical research in German Media Studies can only be achieved by describing both levels and their reciprocal relations, i.e. the structural and processual relation between institutions, thought styles, thought collectives, as well as specific scientific texts.