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Transgressing Media Graduate Conference


Critical Themes in Media Studies

APRIL 5 – 6, The New School

Critical Themes in Media Studies presents: Transgressing Media

CRITICAL THEMES IN MEDIA STUDIES is an annual conference run by the graduate students of the School of Media Studies in the New School for Public Engagement. This year marks the 14th year of Critical Themes in Media Studies Graduate Conference. Critical Themes provides a distinguished forum for students from The New School, New York City, and the world to present original scholarship on topics related to the study of media.

We invite you to join us in exploring the theme Transgressing Media, and to explore the ways media theory and practices respond to the notion of boundaries.

discourses embedded within society. What results is a definition of transgressing that is dynamic,


Conference Co-Chairs

Bria Cole and Lauren Treihaft | @criticalthemes School of Media Studies, The New School


individuated, and always subject to change.

This year’s conference demonstrates an exhilarating heterogeneity of responses and approaches with which we can begin to address this question, ranging from the interrogation of ‘fixed’ epistemological legacies, to a resistance against corporeality as a fleshy and material body. Critical Themes in Media Studies creates a productive space to think and create anew and one, which motivates the continuation of a dialogue to transgress beyond the bounds of this conference.

For more conference schedule and collection of abstracts, please visit



Critical Themes in Media Studies presents Transgressing Media

Opening Keynote: Helen Nissenbaum, New York University

Opening Transgressive Media Exhibition

Wollman Hall, 5th Floor, 66 West 11th Street, NY, NY 10011 7 p.m. – 10 p.m.

“Obfuscation as a Transgressive Practice against Data Tyranny”

We can understand transgressing as a mutable process, analogous to the perpetual progression of our media landscape and the Obfuscation is a tactic proposed by Helen Nissenbaum as a means of resistance against online surveillance and surreptitious data collection processes. As digital technologies become more sophisticated in data collection, replication, and retrieval, it is less possible for one to maintain privacy and untraceable online activity. The concept of obfuscation draws from a history of diversionary tactics, and informs a strategy in rendering one’s data obsolete, raising a series of philosophical, ethical and technical challenges. Helen will present her obfuscation projects and their critiques. This discussion will begin our conference’s exploration of transgressive options and dilemmas when online users to obscure their traceable data.

Featuring original media works:

No Pics No Reply Jessica Kingdon

Hopelessly Devoted Josephine Skinner

Hand to Heart Kara Stone

Reception to follow Opening Keynote Address



Wollman Hall, 5th Floor, 66 West 11th Street, NY, NY, 10011

10a.m. – 6p.m.

Graduate students present their research and projects discussing transgressive qualities in their media theories and works. The panels include, in order of presentation, “User Led Spaces,” “Liminal Bodies,” “Interrogating Epistemologies,” and “Resistant Practices.”

Critical Themes in Media Studies presents Transgressing Media

Closing Keynote: Suhail Malik, Goldsmith University, Bard College

Wollman Hall, 5th Floor, 66 West 11th Street, NY, NY, 10011

7p.m. – 10 p.m.

“Normative Transgressive Media”

Reception to follow Closing Keynote Address

A now-standard case against transgression having traction for counter-power is that it has become a key operation for both extra-judicial authority and capitalization, a conjunction core to contemporary domination operationalized via the state, culture, commerce, and finance, amongst other forms of big power. Should transgression then be abandoned as yet another turn of the counter-normative screw, paradoxically characteristic of dominant power in risk societies? Given these conditions, this presentation will contend that media, qua channels of complex and anonymous socialization, are now key to operationalizing transgressions that do effective socio-political work by no less paradoxically seeking to resecure norms.