Media are a central component of contemporary society, which has been reflected in recent historical research. This is notable in the emergence of the multi-disciplinary field of Media History. Today's media situation has raised a series of new historical questions which have led to new knowledge about the past. This historical research has in turn given rise to new perspectives on contemporary discussions about the role and significance of media for human self-understanding, human relations and our ways of approaching common concerns.
Research at the department includes consideration of how the historically-changing ways in which the world is represented, in which knowledge is communicated and learning organized, has been tied to certain media preconditions and the development of specific media competences. Drawing on cultural theory, this research uses a broad concept of 'media' that includes far more than the traditional mass media. The academic lecture, the museum of cultural history, the statistical diagram and the x-ray photograph, for instance, have been variously analysed as part of shifting mediascapes. In this way the field can encompass a considerable diversity of studies, including how a particular new form of media was established, how questions of political theory have been part of the establishing of new publics, and how educational reforms have been related to new media.
(Picture: High school for girls, Södermalm, Stockholm. News paper reading lesson, 1950. Photo: Gunnar Lantz. Published by Stockholm City Museum.)