Department III: Contemporary History of Media and Information Society

Heads of Department: Dr. Jürgen Danyel and Priv.-Doz. Dr. Annette Vowinckel

The availability of audiovisual media steadily increased throughout the twentieth century, changing the daily lives of people, as well as social communication and politics. Department III researches the process of media transformation in European societies and the changes brought by the advance of new information technologies and digitalization.

Another focus is historiography itself, the question of how scholarly communication, the working methods of historians, and the communication of historical knowledge have changed in the digital age. The department’s work is closely linked to its own Internet resources on contemporary history.


Logo of Zeitgeschichte digital.

With Contemporary History Digital (Zeitgeschichte digital,, the ZZF develops its own digital research infrastructure for contemporary history.


Tamás Urbán, A team of the Hungarian TV channel MTV filming on a construction site in 1971.
© Fortepan/Tamás Urbán

The online repository, hosted by the ZZF, serves as a platform for historical research on visual sources and phenomena. It provides up-to-date insights into the growing community of visual historians and their activities, and supports the formation of professional networks.


Photo: Anna Laschke

Associated PhD project

Given the growing interest in images and objects, the material culture of everyday life has been accepted as an authentic source for historiography. Its significance for historical research, however, has been underrated on the part of professional...


American family watching television, 1958. Photo: Evert F. Baumgardner, Family watching television 1958, public domain, details on Wikimedia Commons

Since the late nineteenth century, modern mass media have increasingly shaped European societies. Whether politics, economics or culture, there is hardly an area of social life that has not been changed by the dissemination of newspapers, films, radio or the World Wide Web.


Poster of the conference, 2012.

The projects analyse the changes of society because of the process of computerisation and the use of information technology.

Modell of Ost-Berlin, Senatsverwaltung für Stadtentwicklung, Photo: Hanno Hochmuth

Exhibition Germaine Krull 2015. Foto: Sven Hilbrandt

Exhibitions supervised by staff members in Department III.


Political-cultural Journals in Germany – Heavy Metal in the GDR - Computers during the Cold War – Ofactory History of the German Partition – Biography of Walter Boehlich – Art in Germany and Poland - Pictorial Depiction of Migrants in Print Media – German (pop-)music - Advertising in the GDR...


Nutritional regimes – GDR photography - Federal Office of Information