Framing Violence. A Multidisciplinary Symposium on Theorizing Frames

01.07.2016 - 02.07.2016

Framing Violence: A Multidisciplinary Symposium on Theorizing Frames
July 1st & 2nd
Deadline: April 10th, 2016
John F. Kennedy Institute, Freie Universität Berlin

Violence can take the form of a physical or verbal act of aggression, be inherent to an institutionalized practice, can be perpetrated and experienced. Attitudes towards violence (for example, whether an act of war is ‘justified’) can hold very different if not competing implications. How violent acts are perceived, mediated, and thought about — in short, how they are framed — can have a significant impact.

Frames can therefore serve as a useful unit of analysis in conceptualizing the various aspects of violence, both as a mode of communication and as a cognitive schema. Yet there are few terms in academia so amply used yet continually contested; the definition and application of ‘framing’ differs widely between and within disciplines. Frames can be understood as mobilizers around which political and social coalitions might form, or as the mode through which actors and institutions compete over diverging interpretations of reality. In visual media, frames literally shape how reality is perceived, through the selection of what is included and what is left out of an image. Similarly, they can serve as an essential structuring device in all manner of narratives. Frames can convey emotions and experiences. More broadly, they may be described as heuristic devices and as part of cognitive schemata and knowledge networks.

Based on the idea that the range and fractured nature of the paradigm of framing can be turned into an advantage, the goal of this workshop will be to distill and discuss multiple disciplinary perspectives. We are guided by the overarching question of how the combination and juxtapositioning of these understandings can lead us to a richer conceptualization of violence as a phenomenon.


Topics may include, but are not limited to, the following areas of interest:

  • Disciplinary approaches to frames as cognitive schemas and modes of communication
  • The function of frames in visual depictions of violence
  • Frames as metaphors and narrative devices in accounts of violence
  • Framing empathy and emotion
  • Modes of communication or representation, which may overcome, break or shift existing framing patterns

 Confirmed Keynote speaker:

Prof. Robert Entman, J.B. and Maurice C. Shapiro Professor of Media and Public Affairs; Professor of International Affairs, George Washington University

Abstracts should be limited to 300 words and be accompanied by the author’s name, e-mail address, institutional affiliation, discipline(s) and a short CV. The deadline for submissions is April 10th, 2016. A confirmation e-mail will be sent upon receipt of your abstract. Those selected to present will be notified by late April 2016. Please submit all abstracts and questions to the organizers: 

 Dr. Birte Wege (JFKI Department of Literature) :

Dr. Curd Knüpfer (JFKI Department of Political Science) :