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The Cultural Studies PhD

Transdisciplinarity in the study of culture

The International Graduate Centre for the Study of Culture supports theoretical and methodological pluralism in trans- and interdisciplinary research on culture. In eight different Research Areas, doctoral candidates are invited to conduct research on key cultural issues alongside of postdocs and professors.


Cultural Studies Research as Cultural Research

Cultural Studies research implies doing things in innovative ways. Thus, one of the express aims of the GCSC is to develop transdisciplinary theories, methods and models. To realise such objectives, the GCSC promotes communication between the various cultural disciplines. Within the eight Research Areas, Ph.D. students, professors, and postdocs conduct research across disciplinary boundaries. Their projects cover the broad historical spectrum of research in the study of culture as well as focussing on the analysis of contemporary phenomena.

Research in a Research-Intensive Environment

The eight Research Areas of the GCSC presented below are interrelated in a number of ways. Members of the Centre do not only conduct research on specific topics within a Research Area (RA). They also work together on core approaches and interdisciplinary problems in cultural studies, enhancing the cultural-studies research profile of the GCSC in its full breadth and range.

Research on Equal Footing with Senior Researchers

The Research Areas are not only involved in advancing research. They also create non-hierarchical spaces where young scholars engage in discussion on an equal footing with professors and experienced postdocs. In the process, both individual projects and general research are in the forefront of scholarly debate. In addition, PhD students in the Research Areas participate actively in designing and implementing joint projects. In this way, doctoral candidates are able to create the research environment they need while also acquiring valuable key skills in project management, event organization, and textual editing and criticism.

Core Research Fields: The Eight Research Areas

This brief description of the eight Research Areas (RA) provides an overview of the diversity of research being conducted in cultural studies as sponsored by the Graduate Centre. Scholars at the Centre engage in research including (but not limited to) the following areas:

(RA 1) Cultural Memory Studies

RA 1 addresses approaches to memory, past and present, as well as implicit and explicit forms of cultural memory. Special focuses of research are practices of memory cultures as these vary throughout history.

(RA 2) Cultural Narratologies

Members of RA 2 research approaches to culture that foreground the significance of narrative and "culture as text". It defines culture on the basis of a dynamic and complex interplay of different signifying systems.

(RA 3) Cultural Transformation and Performativity Studies

The members of RA 3 are especially engaged in research on the performative dimension of culture. Working with concepts such as "theatricality" and analyzing processes of cultural transformation, the research of RA3 is centered on examining dynamic interactions, such as that between culture and media.

(RA 4) Visual and Material Culture Studies

RA 4 is closely linked with Visual Studies. The members of this RA explore key issues in the study of culture on the basis of images and their independent role in culture.

(RA 5) Media and Multiliteracy Studies

The research of RA 5 pursues the specific and global, material and abstract conditions under which communication processes take place in culture. In this framework, members study language as a cultural phenomenon and the various impacts of new media on everyday modes of communication.

(RA 6) Cultural Identities

The members of RA 6 look at the diverse ways in which "culture" and "identity" are mutually dependent. At the center of its work is the intensive consideration of disciplinary approaches in an interdisciplinary context.

(RA 7) Global Studies and Politics of Space

RA 7 illuminates the impact of transnationalization on historical and heuristic re-configurations of "culture", "society," "state" and "community". The functional analysis of related supra-national elements such as language, memory, identity, and media plays a decisive role in this RA.

(RA 8) Cultures of Knowledge, Research and Education

The creation, dissemination, and application of knowledge are essential elements in socio-cultural processes. RA 8 explores the range of such aspects in the context of globalization and transnationalization, social change, and becoming a subject.

Further details on the various programmes of the individual Research Areas can be found on our website.