MEVIT4700 – Screen Histories and Theories

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content

Of what importance are the histories and theories of screens for understanding our current screen cultures? Screens are now a dominant presence and interface in culture in a number of ways. Screens are no longer defined by their institutional location (the cinema, the living room, the office) but are ubiquitous. They come across as various types and scales, from mobile phones and video games to virtual realities. We carry screens with us, devote our attention to them, navigate our behaviors with them. In return, screens disclose worlds more beautiful and desirable than ours beneath their surface, capturing us into cycles of dreamy consumption. 
This course explores the historical background of current developments in screen-based media. The course looks at the more or less distant past so as to make sense of what is happening at the present, and to come up with critical conceptual tools to understand the various workings of screens – ranging from sites of spectacle and scientific vision machines to the noisy surfaces that fill today’s lived environments. The manifold culture of screens didn’t begin with the introduction of cinema, but its history extends much further, to nineteenth-century panoramas and magic lantern spectacles as well as seventeenth-century camera obscuras, among many other things. This course investigates such a “deep time” of screens. It charts critical moments from the early modern period to the present – moments that involve technological developments as well as cultural and political changes – as well as their diverse theoretical interpretations.

Learning outcome

The purpose of this course is:

  • to familiarize students with critical theoretical and methodological approaches to the study of screens and their histories
  • to provide an expansive introduction to key historical and theoretical moments and periods

Candidates who have completed the Screen Histories and Theories course will have acquired the following knowledge, skills and general competences:

  • has advanced knowledge of the histories of screens, such as the cinema, television, computer, and smartphone screen.
  • can analyze and interpret media texts and cultural artifacts pertaining to the field of screen histories independently.
  • can assess relevant existing theories and approaches in researching screen-based media, and work independently on practical and theoretical problems.
  • can use the methodological skills obtained within the fields of screen history and theory to carry out independent academic and professional work.
  • can analyze and critically assess different sources of information to make scholarly arguments within the study of screen media.
  • can use the general competence of scholarly writing about screen-based media in other academic and professional fields.
  • can communicate about academic questions, analyses and findings in the field of screen histories and theories, with specialists and society at large.


Students who are admitted to study programmes at UiO must each semester register which courses and exams they wish to sign up for in Studentweb.

If you are not already enrolled as a student at UiO, please see our information about admission requirements and procedures.

This course is not available for single course students.

This course is a mandatory course for students enrolled in the Master Program "Screen Cultures". Other master students at the Faculty of Humanities may also take the course as an elective course.


Access to teaching

The course aims to give students hands-on experience of screens in their various historical manifestations, drawing on the resources of museums, archives and other institutions in the Oslo region, and explores alternative pedagogical approaches so as to enable students to learn about screen-based communication, its contexts and modalities. Classes consist of combined lectures and seminars. 

This course has compulsory activities where the students are required to be present on at least 75 % of the classes, actively participate in seminar discussions and to give short presentations on assigned topics/texts. 


The examination consists of a portfolio and a final essay (take-home exam). The portfolio is composed of a series of shorter texts (8-10 pages in total) written during the term time. The final essay consists of 8-10 pages (à 2300 characters without spaces, not including illustrations, notes and reference).

The portfolio and the final essay count equally (50/50) in the final grade.

Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a scale from A to F, where A is the best grade and F is a fail. Read more about the grading system.

Explanations and appeals

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Special examination arrangements

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Facts about this course






Every autumn

The course is offered for the first time autumn 2019.


Every autumn

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