Emil Stjernholm

Emil Stjernholm

Associate senior lecturer

Personal profile


I have been working as an Associate Senior Lecturer in Media and Communication Studies at the Department of Communication and Media since 2020. After obtaining my PhD in 2018, I received the Swedish Research Council’s international postdoc grant with the research project Televising Information: Audiovisual Communication of Swedish Government Agencies. As part of the project, I spent one year at the Institute for Cultural Inquiry at Utrecht University and one year at the Department of Communication at the University of Copenhagen as a postdoc.

My research profile is interdisciplinary. My main areas of research include digital humanities, propaganda and political communication, and media and communication history. First of all, in the wake of mass digitization in the past decade, media scholars today are confronted with the challenge of dealing with abundance rather than scarcity – of cultural works, archival sources, and born-digital data. Within the digital humanities, this increase in scale presents an opportunity to engage with these materials using digital methods. Digital humanities research appeals to me particularly because it is collaborative, reaches across traditional disciplinary boundaries and provides a new way of presenting and understanding media and communication history. For the past three years (2020–2023), I have been working on the media historical digital humanities project Televising Information. The focal point of this mixed methods project, which was conducted in collaboration with KBLab, was Sveriges Television’s bulletin program Anslagstavlan, which has been a unique audiovisual communication tool for Swedish government agencies since 1972. Currently, I am part of a multidisciplinary project called Modern Times 1936 (2022–2025, funded by Riksbankens Jubileumsfond with Pelle Snickars as PI). Within this project, digital methods will be utilized to study expressions of modernity in a range of sonic and visual datasets from 1936, among them photographs from DigitaltMuseum, all surviving radio programs from Swedish Radio and all weekly newsreels and short films produced by Svensk Filmindustri. Here, an important ambition is to learn more about the possibilities and limitations of artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques in the exploration of the past. Together with Fredrik Mohammadi Norén, I will head the digital humanities research project The State Advertises, which will be conducted in collaboration with Lund University Library starting in 2024 (funded by the Ridderstad Foundation).

Moreover, I have a long-standing interest in propaganda and political communication. Today, the debates on “misinformation”, “disinformation” and “fake news” have reinvigorated interest in what was previously labeled as propaganda and public relations. What does the history of propaganda tell us about the swiftly shifting contemporary conceptual debates? This is a central question in my research, and in my view, there is an urgent need to critically historicize the potentially conflicting values, goals, and outcomes of propaganda and persuasion. Prior to joining the Department of Communication and Media at Lund University, I wrote my dissertation on newsreels and documentaries as propaganda media during World War II, and together with Mohammadi Norén, I co-edited the Swedish language collection Efterkrigstidens samhällskontakter (2019) on propaganda, public relations and information practices in post-war Sweden. The book Nordic Media Histories of Propaganda and Persuasion, which was published by Palgrave Macmillan in their Journalism, Media and Communication series in 2022, was edited together with Mohammadi Norén and C. Claire Thomson from University College London. This edited volume shines new light on the history of propaganda and persuasion during the Nordic welfare epoch. A common analytical framework is developed that highlights transnational and transmedial perspectives rather than national or monomedial histories. The return of propaganda in contemporary debate underlines the need to historically contextualize the role and function of persuasive communication activities in the Nordic region and beyond. 

A third key strand in my research profile could be described as media and communication history. In recent years, media historical scholars have gone against the grain of mono-medial disciplinary boundaries and a media history privileging teleological narratives of progress. I have produced several articles and chapters in edited volumes adopting an entangled media historical perspective, and I am currently a board member of the Nordic Media History Network (NOMEH) and member of the Entangled Media Histories network (EMHIS).

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Free keywords

  • LSSMC: Methods

Collaborations the last five years

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