Doctoral Research Group Representation Visuality Knowledge

Knowledge and discovery – ancient rhetoric already taught us this – are bound by modes of representation. Since the modern age, the arts, in particular, have been characterized by a reflected, critical, deconstructive or even affective preoccupation with questions of representation, as a combination of forms, content and media of representation. Artistic practices, for example, can demonstrate the extent to which the persuasive force of a visual and/or textual object is an effect of representation work. The Doctoral Research Group highlights and questions the (political) power of representation, the specific role of visuality and the impact of both on current and historical knowledge production.

The participating disciplines (art history, sociology of art, media science, philosophy, literature studies and rhetoric) have a common framework in their definition of the term representation. They therefore explore visual, auditory, textual and social phenomena.

Another focus of the Doctoral Research Group is the study of cultures of criticism. Representation is understood as the point of crystallization of various forms of criticism, which can only be compared and discussed in the context of representation.

The cooperation with the Institute of Culture and Aesthetics of Digital Media (ICAM) and the DFG-funded Institute for Advanced Study on Media Cultures of Computer Simulation (MECS) focuses on media-based and technical conditions of representation.

The Doctoral Research Group benefits particularly from its cooperation with the Leuphana "Kunstraum", which has carried out projects with internationally acclaimed artists for 25 years.

Areas of Research

  • Modern and contemporary art
  • Film, photography, urban art, fashion
  • Art theory and aesthetics
  • Players, institutions and discourse in the arts
  • Images of science
  • Cultures of criticism
  • Theory of representation
  • Rhetoric of the arts and media

Doctoral Degree

The respective faculty confers the doctoral degree Dr. phil.


  • Prof. Dr. Beate Söntgen

Doctoral Supervisors

  • Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Kemp
  • Prof. Dr. Susanne Leeb
  • Prof. Dr. Claus Pias
  • Prof. Dr. Beate Söntgen
  • Apl. Prof. Dr. phil. Ulf Wuggenig
  • Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Martin Warnke
  • Prof. Dr. Christina Wessely
  • Prof. Dr. Lynn Rother

Doctoral Courses

As a doctoral candidate at Leuphana, you not only write your dissertation, but also participate in the interdisciplinary doctoral courses to the extent of 30 credit points, which include (inter)disciplinary colloquia (Research Forum I and Research Forum II) and furthermore comprises four interdisciplinary modules on research ethics, research methods, scientific practice and current perspectives on science. Please find more information about Leuphana's doctoral courses here.


If you wish to pursue your doctorate at Leuphana, you must be enrolled as doctoral student. Information about admission to the doctorate at Leuphana and the application procedure can be found here.

Leuphana Graduate School offers advice and coaching to academics in the qualification phase. The Graduate School's advisor will be happy to support you in questions of decision-making, challenges in the course of your doctorate, and career planning and development. You can find more information about the counselling and coaching services here.