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‘The Students of My Module Are Serious, Hardworking, and Very Responsible’

‘The Students of My Module Are Serious, Hardworking, and Very Responsible’

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Lev Manovich, Presidential Professor of computer science at the City University of New York and author of works on digital culture and new media, was one of the first foreign scholars to start remote work with HSE students this academic year. He is leading a project seminar at the Faculty of Humanities for students of the Bachelor’s programme in Cultural Studies.

This year, academic and research faculties and programmes have begun inviting international specialists for remote teaching and academic activities as part of a new programme for visiting scholars initiated by the University.

The idea to invite Lev Manovich was first suggested by Yuliya Biedash, Associate Professor of the School of Philosophy and Cultural Studies and Academic Supervisor of the Bachelor’s programme in ‘Cultural Studies’, who knew Lev Manovich from his work, particularly his book The Language of New Media. When colleagues discussed over email the question of which specialist they would like to invite for students of the ‘Cultural Studies’ programme, Professor Biedash noted that whomever is invited should be an experienced scholar of digital culture. The name of Lev Manovich was named first.

Lev Manovich

Dr. Lev Manovich was born in Moscow and moved to the United States when he was 21 years old. In New York, he received a Master’s degree in Visual Science and Cognitive Psychology, worked with computer 3D animation, and began teaching media art in the 1990s. In 1993, he received a PhD in Visual and Cultural Studies from the University of Rochester. He is a Presidential Professor of computer science at the City University of New York and is the founder and director of the Cultural Analytics Lab, which uses big data analytics to research contemporary cultural trends. He has taught courses as a visiting professor at universities in California, Amsterdam, Stockholm and elsewhere, including Russia.

‘I cannot say that Professor Manovich immediately agreed to our proposal,’ says Professor Biedash. ‘He practically does not work with undergraduates, and he was not particularly enticed by their number - a little under 60 students. In addition, he did not know us personally. We therefore devoted some time to discussing the details related to the organization of his work. But he liked the proposed class format – a project seminar – and I think he has managed to organize his course well.’

Professor Manovich delivered his first lecture at HSE on October 27. He is teaching a small project seminar for 3rd-year students of the Bachelor's programme in Cultural Studies during the second module. The seminar is dedicated to the cultural forms of 2050. The idea of the course is for students, based on their acquired knowledge of the theory and history of culture, to develop projects in which they try to predict what culture will be in 30 years.

Lev Manovich, Visiting Professor, HSE Faculty of Humanities

I have been very pleased with my experience at HSE. Everyone I have interacted with to organize my seminar and all the details has been very professional, very precise and very responsible. During my career, I have been a visiting professor at a large number of universities in many countries (besides universities in the United States, where I have taught regularly), and my experience at HSE is one of the best. Since I am teaching at HSE University for the first time, I had many questions, and all my emails were answered within a day. This allows a professor to focus on the class instead of wasting energy on administrative details.

What can I say about my experience teaching HSE undergraduate students? When I finish one lesson, I can't wait for another! I am very pleased with that. The students of my module are serious, hardworking, and very responsible. In my module we are discussing a new topic, which, as far as I know, has not been taught before, and there are no publications on it. So, together with the students of HSE, we are actually coming up with a new area of research. It requires being very open minded and not being afraid to try new things. I am very pleased with my experience at HSE and will be happy to teach there again.

Yuliya Biedash, Associate Professor at the School of Philosophy and Cultural Studies, Academic Supervisor of the Bachelor’s Programme ‘Cultural Studies’

I really like that Lev Manovich sets non-trivial tasks for our students and asks them to creatively use the knowledge that they have gained. At the same time, he himself is a part of this creative process, and he shares his best practices and ideas with the students. All this creates a rich intellectual atmosphere. I am sure that this is a valuable experience that will be useful for the course participants in the future when they enter the labour market.

Georgy Sharov, 3rd-year student, Bachelor’s Programme ‘Cultural Studies’

Professor Manovich teaches a very interesting course that allows us to look into the future. Analyzing the present day, identifying different kinds of trends in it, we can predict what kind of world we will find ourselves in in 2050. It seems to me that exploratory intuition is important for a cultural scholar, because we must be ready to face new challenges, and this course helps us to develop this kind of intuition. I am very happy to be a part of this project!

Valeria Stratonnikova, 3rd-year student, Bachelor’s Programme ‘Cultural Studies’

Currently my classmates and I are continuing to work on our projects and prepare for our final defense—we are creating a cyber-hut of the future. Other groups are covering topics such as fashion, design, social media, and more. The sessions of this mini-course are exciting and, most importantly, dynamic. In the lecture part, Lev Manovich talks about various cases related to new technologies and media, and in the remaining time, we discuss group projects collectively or individually and receive valuable feedback.

I am also pleased that in creating our final project, Professor Manovich especially encourages taking an original approach to visualization: this is a great opportunity to apply illustration and graphic design skills in practice and look at this or that cultural phenomenon in a new way! Another thing that cannot go unnoted is our general ongoing seminar chat we have with Professor Manovich on Telegram—everyone can send material related to the topic of the course and discuss it. As a result, the conversation turns out to be productive.

The new Remote International Specialist Programme is administered by the Centre for International Faculty Support of the Department of Internationalisation. You can apply on behalf of your subdivision here.