Course Schedule


The Dark Sites of the Internet (Seminar)

Dozent/in: Laura Hille

wöchentlich | Dienstag | 16:15 - 17:45 | 17.10.2022 - 03.02.2023 | C 5.311 Seminarraum

Inhalt: Anyone who ever fell into a hyperlink rabbit hole – an online discussion, twitter thread, comment section or obscure forum – knows how dark the internet can be. Hate-speech, racism, anti-semitism and sexism are only two klicks away. But it would be wrong to say that the dark side of the internet is only virtual. The hate being produced and reproduced on the web is having real life consequences: memes find their way onto protest posters at demonstrations, trolls flood a discourse until it hurts; anonymous users doxx private information; some even terrorize IRL, publish manifestos, livestream their rampage, and actually kill people. How can critical humanities research this dark side and sites of the internet? How to adapt our methods to research online communities like the Manosphere, online politics like Anonymous, online practices like trolling, online activism like the Alt-Right… In the first part of the seminar we will learn how to make a research plan, how to find the right method for your research question and what methodology may have to do with this. Qualitative research methods are well established tools in social sciences and humanities: Visiting an archive, conducting interviews, doing ethnography or discourse analysis are only some of the manifold options of doing qualitative research. The second part of the seminar will test, question and practically engage with these methods. By pairing a "classical" research method with a specific "dark" object of research we can ask how to adapt those methods for our new era of Digital Cultures. What if the object of research is found online? What if the cultural phenomenon is digital? Do interviews have to be conducted differently, when they are recorded via Zoom? Is a discord channel similar to a focus group? How to analyze a twitter thread, subreddit or instastory? In the third and last part of the seminar, we will learn what to do with the data we collected during the course of the semester. The internet is the biggest archive of the world, we should learn how to collect its data and critically engage with it.