The Humanities Collaborative Research Centre 'Media Upheavals' examines the prerequisites and structures of the media upheavals at the beginning of the 20th century and in the crossover to the 21st century.
A guiding premise of the investigation is the observation that media upheavals suppose comprehensive, discontinuous, structural changes within media history. The expression 'media upheaval' may marginalize such historiographical terms as 'epoch threshold' or 'turning-point' and synonyms such as 'sea change' or 'breakthrough'. From a chronological perspective, the evolutionary processes of media history have again and again gone through the phases of an abrupt crossover into a hitherto unknown quality in terms of media development. Media upheavals arise with the dynamic force of an epoch-making breakthrough. They indicate a historically new, singular stage in media development Ð such as the history of perception. The direction of development of a breakthrough of this type is indeterminate. It can encompass technological factors and anthropological dimension of media history, along with inherited social and cultural institutions or aesthetic traditions. The Humanities Collaborative Research Centre examines the media upheavals, in terms of their meaning for the emergence and transformation of media cultures, and for the development of media aesthetics - while considering the technological factors involved. The objective of the investigation course is to compare and contrast the two main structurally characteristic media upheavals of the 20th century, which can be termed as a breakthrough in 'analogue' media at the turn of the 20th century, and as a 'digital' breakthrough at the beginning of the 21st century. The comparison with the situation regarding the media breakthrough at the turn of the 20th century permits the definition of the main focuses of contrast, which serve to underpin the historical framework of these media breakthroughs. The formation of these focal points is based on the view that 'breakthroughs' do not necessarily bring socially positive consequences in their wake. Indeed, media upheavals give rise Ð in many different cultures - to a wide range of material, chronological, social, medial and spatial consequences. The investigation work is therefore not only limited to the analysis of media-related theoretical discourse, but also requires a trans-disciplinary and intercultural approach to research. Most of the partial comparative-culture extension of questions relating to the overall project supposes, insofar as it is taken into account, that the investigation of both 'analogue' and 'digital' media cultures refers to phenomena with global dimensions. These factors each led, above all in the western industrial nations at the turns of the 20th and 21st centuries, to situations of upheaval of singular quality, whose exemplary analysis constitutes a desideratum of media-studies research.