Universiteit Leiden

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Pepita Hesselberth

University Lecturer

Dr. P. Hesselberth
+31 71 527 2202

Pepita Hesselberth is a University Lecturer at the Leiden University Centre for the Arts in Society.

More information about Pepita Hesselberth

Fields of interest

  • Algorithmic Culture
  • Critical Theory
  • Cultural Analysis
  • Digital Cultures
  • Dis/connectivity
  • Environmental Humanities
  • Film, Television and Media Studies
  • Film Philosophy
  • Media | Art | Politics

Curriculum vitae

Pepita Hesselberth is Assistant Professor Film and Digital Media at the Centre for the Arts in Society at Leiden University. She is the author of Cinematic Chonotopes (Bloomsbury 2014), and co-editor of, amongst others, Compact Cinematics (Bloomsbury 2016) and Legibility in the Age of Signs and Machines (Brill 2018). She is currently finalizing on her project on Disconnectivity in the Digital Age, for which she received a fellowship from the Danish Council for Independent Research, and was appointed as a research fellow at the Department of Arts and Cultural Studies at the University of Copenhagen (2016-2018). 

She was recently awarded a Mercator Fellowship of the Graduiertenkolleg "Configurations of Film" which includes a four-week research residency in Frankfurt am Mainz.

She organizes a series Lectures at Leiden University called Lectures in Media Art Politics. For more info, see here.

She is a three-time nominee of the Facultaire Onderwijsprijs (2014, 2015, 2018). 


Disconnectivity in the Digital age (funded by the Danish Council for Independent Research 2016-2018). Digital detox holidays, phone stacking dinners, virtual suicide, a year without Internet. In a culture obsessed with social networking, participation and connectivity, to disconnect has come to mean going off-line: to reclaim presence in the physical world; to revitalize face to face communication; to salvage the actual over the virtual; to (temporarily) obliterate one’s online identity. To disconnect signals a desire to re_connect: with ones off-line identity, with friends, with the spiritual values of life, with ones natural environment, with the world at large. Disconnectivity thus bespeaks connectivity, and vice versa. For every form of connectivity, whether desired or feared, there is a correlative form of disconnectivity, dreaded or longed for. Each connection evokes the possibility of a disconnection that would instantly annul it, that precedes it, and that conditions it. The aim of this qualitative research project is to develop a conceptual framework for understanding the cultural and socio-political implications of the current tendency towards voluntary disconnectivity, where disconnectivity is understood as psychic, socio-economic, and/or political withdrawal from mediated forms of connectivity. Key publications coming out of this project include Discourses on Disconnectivity and the Right to Disconnect. New Media & Society OA 20.5 (2017): 1994-2010; and Creative Control: Digital Labour, Superimposition, Datafication, and the Image of UncertaintyDigital Creativity 28.4 (2017): 332-347.

Monographs & Edited Volumes

Legibility in the Age of Signs and Machines  (Brill 2018, co-edited with Janna Houwen, Esther Peeren and Ruby de Vos.)

Legibility in the Age of Signs and Machines offers a compelling reflection on what the notion of legibility entails in a machinic world in which any form of cultural expression – from literary texts, films, artworks and museum exhibits to archives, laws, computer programs and algorithms – necessarily partakes in ever-more complex processes of (mass) mediation. Divided over four clusters focusing on desire, justice, machine and heritage, the chapters in the volume explore what makes something legible or illegible to whom or, indeed, what; the kinds of reading, processing or navigating such il/legibility facilitates or forecloses; and the role critical (media) theory, literary studies and the Humanities in general can play in tackling these and related issues. Co-edited with Janna Houwen, Esther Peeren and Ruby de Vos.

Compact Cinematics: The Moving Image in the Age of Bit-Sized Media Culture  (Bloomsbury Academic 2017, co-edited with Maria Poulaki)

Compact Cinematics challenges the dominant understanding of cinema as feature  length/ big screen, to focus on the various compact, short, miniature, pocket-sized forms of cinematics that have existed from even before its standardization in theatrical form, and in recent years have multiplied and proliferated, taking up increasingly important part of our everyday multimedia environment. With contributions of Jay Bolter & Maria Engberg, Francesco Casetti, Sean Cubitt, Ulrik Ekman, Anna McCarthy, Todd McGowan, Tom Gunning, Gillian Rose, Pasi Väliaho, Kim Louise Walden, and many others, the essays in this volume ask what the changed technical, socio-economic and political situation entails for the aesthetics and experience of contemporary cinematics, calling attention to new phenomena as well as to the concepts, theories and tools at our disposal to analyze them. 

Cinematic Chronotopes: Here, Now, Me (Bloomsbury Academic 2014, monograph)

The site of cinema is on the move. The extent to which technologically mediated sounds and images continue to be experienced as cinematic today is largely dependent on the intensified sense of being 'here,' 'now' and 'me' that they convey. This intensification is fundamentally rooted in the cinematic's potential to intensify our experience of time, to convey time's thickening, of which the sense of place, and a sense of self-presence are the correlatives. In this study, Pepita Hesselberth traces this thickening of time across four different spatio-temporal configurations of the cinematic: a multi-media exhibition featuring the work of Andy Warhol (1928-1987); the handheld aesthetics of European art-house films; a large-scale media installation by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer; and the usage of the trope of the flash-forward in mainstream Hollywood cinema. Only by juxtaposing these cases by looking at what they have in common, this study argues, can we grasp the complexity of the changes that the cinematic is currently undergoing.

University Lecturer

  • Faculteit der Geesteswetenschappen
  • Centre for the Arts in Society
  • Literatuurwetenschap

Work address

van Wijkplaats
Van Wijkplaats 2
2311 BX Leiden
Room number 1.02c



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